Home Sharing – Golden Girls Canada

With an ever-increasing aging population and the costs of home ownership skyrocketing, it is becoming increasingly difficult for single seniors to own and manage a home.  Seniors living alone often face financial, physical, and emotional challenges, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the isolation that resulted from it has been particularly hard on this demographic.

Dorothy Mazeau, licensed Realtor and owner of “Golden HomeSharing Connections” specializes in home sharing solutions for seniors. “With limited options for downsizing, competition for smaller homes is pushing prices up, and seniors who choose to move to a retirement home run the risk of outliving their resources”, says Dorothy. “The preference is often for seniors to stay in the comfort of their own home – so why not share it?”

Dorothy, a single, working mother has been living in shared homes for more than 20 years. At the age of 50, she was laid off from her job with an architectural firm and she ended up working in a construction supervision position where she spent her days working on site. She eventually returned to working as an architect for about 4 years. During this time period, sharing a home gave Dorothy an affordable living solution, and offered her the help she needed at home with her son when she was unable to be there. Dorothy was an active member of the Brampton Board of Trade, and it was during one of the BBOT meetings that she met a real estate broker who encouraged her to pursue a career in real estate.  She quickly pursued her license and has been selling real estate for Royal Lepage since 2004. Dorothy subsequently achieved an additional designation as a Seniors Real Estate Specialist, and she has been working since then to help seniors find solutions to their housing needs and home sharing is a great option for many of them.  “The sheer number of empty nesters is staggering, and more than one third of these are aging without a spouse”, says Dorothy. “There are so many women in the Caledon area living alone in the country. Home sharing offers them companionship and financial security, as well as the reassurance of having someone there to help around the home and to be there in case of an emergency.” She stresses that the goal is mutual support among peers, creating a “family of friends.”

There are several factors to consider when exploring a co-habitation situation, and Dorothy offers monthly workshops to educate people on what they need to do to create a successful home-sharing experience.  “Home Sharing is a win-win situation for everyone, and it can be life-changing for many seniors who find it difficult to manage a home on their own” says Dorothy. “However, there are several things to consider when deciding to share a home with someone. My company, Golden HomeSharing Connections, specializes in educating clients to ensure they are able to enjoy all of the benefits of home sharing, and help them to mitigate the risks by properly screening potential roommates. I can also guide them through the co-ownership process, if they wish to pursue that option with friends.

Some things to think about when considering home sharing as an option include:

Compatibility:

Choose people/someone you like and respect, whose lifestyle is compatible enough with your own.  For example, if you are very tidy you probably would not want to live with someone who is extremely messy!

Be Proactive:

Consider home sharing BEFORE you actually need help! If this is something you are interested in, look for people who might be considering the same thing, and start preparing in advance so that you have lots of time to find the right people/person to share your home with.

Do Your Due Diligence:

Prepare a list of lifestyle questions and compile a home sharing list. Meet in person and ask for references. Request a personal and financial profile to ensure that the match is right for you.

Have a Written Agreement:

Home sharing is not covered by the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act, so be sure to have a written agreement and run it past a lawyer. Make it a prerequisite to have next of kin and POA information for each roommate.

Keep Money Issues Clean:

As you would in the case of a prenuptial agreement, it is important to ensure that the financial commitment is clear and in writing. How will groceries and utilities be split? Who is responsible for maintenance or incidentals? Clarifying these items up front will avoid conflict in the future.

The benefits to home sharing arrangements are far reaching and offer a safe, financially viable alternative to retirement homes and independent living facilities.  The emotional connections and friendships that are formed can be life changing, and the ability to stay in your home has many benefits -financially and emotionally.  As our demographic landscape changes with our aging population, in the absence of affordable housing, home sharing offers a viable solution to seniors and the opportunity to enjoy an extended family environment and a sense of community like no other. There is no doubt that these types of scenarios will continue to gain in popularity, and it can only benefit our communities as a whole when we begin to realize the inherent benefits of the increased health and well-being of our senior population.

Dorothy has a monthly blog, and she is actively involved in housing seminars and conferences. She serves on the Advisory Committee for Peel Homeshare which matches seniors living on their own with post-secondary students looking for a place to live. Dorothy’s website www.GoldenGirlsCanada.ca operates on a membership basis, with membership fees of $60 for 6 months or $90 for a full year.  Membership provides access to a database of potential home-mates, whether you are looking for a home or someone to share yours and includes attendance at [one of her monthly] workshops and a variety of other resources. The platform is self-directed, but Dorothy offers additional services, to help draft agreements, search for properties (If required) and offers valuable advice from her personal experiences with home sharing.  Dorothy Mazeau can be reached via email at hello@goldengirlscanada.ca or on Facebook at Golden Girls Canada.

Written by: Tanya Bottomley

Author: LivingSpaces

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