Getting Started

How many is too many in a shared living home?

One of the initial decisions you need to make is how many homemates you want to live with. There are a few things to consider before you firmly settle on a number, so let’s take a closer look at this issue.

Show me the money…..

Shared living should be more economical than living alone, so let’s look at how the number of people you live with can affect your costs.

Naturally, one of the major influences on the cost of a housing unit are where it is located. The larger centers like Toronto and Ottawa tend to have higher cost houses and apartments. Even within an area, the cost of housing can depend on the popularity of a specific neighbourhood.

Nevertheless, the number of people sharing the rent always makes a difference too. When the rent is split in half or in thirds or in fourths, the cost per person naturally goes down.

So, here are a few tips to help you decide how many homemates will work out best for you financially.

  • Be clear on how much you are able to pay for rent and utilities such that you are still able to have money for other things. The gold standard for this comes from the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC). They say that we should be paying no more than 30% of our before-tax income for our housing to be considered affordable. Make a note of how much you can afford to pay at no more than 40% of your before-tax income.
  • Check the costs of renting in your chosen area or areas on various rental sites. Let’s say you see a housing unit that is currently renting for $2500 per month. Then, divide this by 2, 3, 4 etc. to see how much your rent would be depending on how many homemates you have.

Doing this is just an estimate, of course, because rents often go up and down over time and depending on what is available when you and your homemates are looking. But it will help you have a better idea of how many homemates you need to consider upfront.

Odds or evens…..

Another factor to consider is whether you are more comfortable with an odd or an even number of homemates.

Some people prefer an even number, like 2 or 4; some prefer an odd number, like 3 or 5 for various reasons. Sometimes, one person feels left out in a threesome, whereas when there are 5 people or more this isn’t usually an issue.

It’s a personal choice and it might not matter to you at all. It’s just something to consider.

The more, the merrier……

One of our Facebook group members had this to say about sharing with 4 or more homemates.

“If you want to do something, you’re likely to find someone else who’s interested. If you don’t want to do something on offer, there is someone else to companion the homemate looking for someone to join them. There are more varieties of relationship and no one homemate needs to provide anything they’re not good at. Someone might be a lot of fun to cook with, but doesn’t care to garden with you. It is also easier to accommodate the normal range of human emotion in a group. If you feel like being alone and reading or creating undisturbed for a week, you don’t have to worry about a homemate feeling unloved or bored. Someone is feeling grumpy… well, you are not living alone with that person. You can hang out with someone else. Also, someone in the house is likely to be good at cheering grumpy people up. That same cheerful person may be a bit much all the time, but again, you’re not living alone with them. Someone is bound to need good cheer when 4 or 5 people live together.”

Shared bathrooms…..

The more homemates you choose to live with, the more likely it is that you will be sharing a bathroom with at least one other person.

For some, sharing a bathroom may not be acceptable; for others, it’s not a problem. There is no right or wrong way to look at this. You need to choose for yourself.

Noise and confusion…..

For some, the thought of living with more than one other person is overwhelming. They worry about the noise and/or the confusion of too many voices, too many opinions and not enough privacy.

Keep in mind that you and your homemates will make shared decisions when you co-create your Homemate Agreement. You may decide to have a quiet time from 9 PM to morning. You might decide that everyone needs to use headsets for their TV and computer. There are numerous ways to decrease the noise and confusion through your homemate agreement.

Creating a homemate group……

Members who want to live with more than one person, should start searching for just one other that is a good match. Once you find her, the two of you can look for another who is compatible. And then the three of you can search for a 4th and so on.

In order to communicate together, you can create your own private group to chat and share ideas and concerns. Simply go to the Group Directory and click on “Create a group”. Then follow the prompts to make it private and invite other members to join you.

To get started looking for compatible homemates,
go HERE to become a member.

Getting Started

Do I have to be 100% sure about this?

Shared living, for most of us, is a brand new way of life. You may remember the “Golden Girls” show and laughingly wonder if you are most like Blanche, Dorothy, Rose or Sophia. But then remind yourself that it was a sitcom and not real life.

As you move around the Senior Women Living Together site, you might sometimes feel excited by the prospect of living with others…….at other times, you might wonder if this life-style is right for you.

It’s normal to have some concerns when contemplating such a big change.

Read our informative articles …..

We have a list of articles designed to explain the most common questions about shared living.

Things like managing pets, the best number of homemates, whose furniture to use and getting prepared for the changes are some of the topics.

Read our Getting Started articles HERE

How much commitment is enough…..

As you continue discovering what our shared living option is all about, you may decide to become a member to learn more. Even though you may not be 100% certain, checking out the profiles of potential homemates may give you a better idea of what’s possible.

Eventually, 100% commitment is required. But in the meantime, it costs little to explore and imagine yourself living together with other like-minded women.

Enjoy the adventure. Become a member HERE

Getting Started

How much togetherness is too much?

Women often say, “I’m an introvert, so shared living would never work for me.”

My response is usually, “Maybe yes, maybe no. It all depends on who you live with. So why don’t you look for other introverts or women who would respect your need for alone time?”

Almost everyone, introverted or not, wonders about having some private space and time in a shared living arrangements. Of course, a private bedroom is a must, but will that be enough?

Much depends on the size and configuration of the space you rent together. If it’s a large house with extra bedrooms or easily divided common areas, each of you may be able to have other private space besides your bedroom.

Perhaps, you are more worried about always having to negotiate private time for yourself or having to constantly justify your need for alone time? Naturally, this would be an exhausting way to live.

So, finding compatibility on these issues is important and a subject you will want to checking out with your potential homemates.

By design, the first topic in our Homemate Agreement is about this very issue. (As a member, you will get access to all of our tools, including our Homemate Agreement.)

Your homemate group of 2, 3, 4 or more can choose low, medium or high levels of interaction and companionship. A suggested definition of each follows, but your group can define it any way that works for you.

Low Level:
– homemates live independent, parallel lives
– shared meals and activities are very rare

Medium Level:
– homemates share occasional meals and activities (once or twice a week)

High Level:
– homemates share daily meals and/or activities

Are you ready to become a member?

Getting Started

Less can be more: Downsize first!

Whether you plan to find homemates to live with or you are a homeowner or leaseholder looking for homemates, everyone needs to do some downsizing before starting to live in shared housing arrangements.

I expect you have all heard people say that downsizing was the best thing they ever did or that they gained more than they lost.  But these sentiments mean little when you are facing the enormous task of choosing what you want to keep and what you will get rid of.

I’ve always found that gathering “things” was easy but letting them go was not.  Giving away anything that belonged to my deceased husband brought a little tear to my eye. Saying goodby to my mother’s collection of Blue Mountain pottery was a bit wrenching. Even selling my own set of silverware was difficult.  But nothing was impossible to let go of compared to the advantages I now have living together with my two chosen homemates.

Things we want aren’t necessarily things we need…..

I learned that I don’t need my husband’s “things” to clearly picture his smile or hear his laugh inside my thoughts. All of the wonderful memories I have about my parents are still easily available without having any of my mother’s “things”. And all of the personal belongings I sold or gave away were “things” I wanted, not things I needed.

So, take a deep breath and get started downsizing now.  Before you have to pay someone to move things you don’t really need and will have to get rid of anyway after the move.  Or before your new homemate moves into your home with the things she needs to find a place for.

Downsizing Tips…..

Here are some tips that might make your downsizing easier.

1.  Get a friend with great organizational skills to help you or find a “downsizing diva” and pay a reasonable fee for her services.

2.  Start with just one section of your current home, like the kitchen, bathroom or even just one bookcase.

3.  Create 3 piles:
– the Donate/Sell pile,
– the May Keep pile,
– and the Must Keep pile.

4.  No matter what size the Donate/Sell pile is go ahead and giveaway or sell everything in it.  Try not to second-guess your decision. Just get those things gone and out of sight.

5.  Tackle the May Keep pile next and ask yourself when you last used the item.  If it was more than a year ago, it’s definitely not something you need, so get rid of it.  Ask yourself if you are just keeping it because you feel like a bad person for getting rid of it.  If so, give it to a friend or relative that would just love to have it.

6.  Next, take a hard look at your Must Keep pile and consider your answers to the following questions: Will this fit into my new home/lifestyle?  Will there be room for this in my bedroom?  Will there be a spot in the shared spaces of the home for this?  Will I actually ever use this thing again?  Chances are good that you will find items in this pile that really aren’t keepers.

Have a “Downsizing Party”?

I once read about a senior couple who were leaving their home of 30 years to move into a senior residence. They decided to have a “Downsizing Party” and invited all of their friends, relatives and neighbours to come.

They laid out everything they were giving away on tables throughout the house and said, “This is all stuff we don’t want or need. If you want something and can use it, just take it home with you.” 

Apparently, almost everything was gone at the end of the party.

It’s unlikely that you will gain space when sharing a home…..

The reality is that most people don’t gain more personal space when they start living in shared housing.  There will likely be no space for any stuff that you don’t currently use or need to maintain your quality of life.

Also, consider this. Let’s say you will be living with two other women. So, there will be at least three sets of dinnerware, pots and pans and cutlery; three sofas and three favourite armchairs; three vacuum cleaners to make decisions about.  Collectively, there will be no lack of “things” in your new home.

Since downsizing myself, and now living with two wonderful homemates, I have become one of those people who emphatically says, “Less can be more”.

Are you ready to start exploring our Member Directory for potential homemates?
Have a look at our membership options HERE.

Getting Started

Common Concerns about Shared Living

It’s natural to have some concerns or questions about sharing a home with others. So, we have pulled together the most common ones into this article.

We have offered suggestions because for most of these issues, there are no set answers. Each homemate group has to determine for themselves how they will manage these things.

It’s been said that flexibility is the single most important attribute needed for successful shared living. I think you will see why after you have read this article.

Can I share my car too?

Cars are expensive to maintain, particularly if you only use the car once a week or less. So sharing a car might be a great solution for you and for your homemates.

There is a lot to discuss and consider, of course, but we found a great resource to help you make decisions. Go HERE to learn more about car sharing.

What about cleaning?

Not many of us love to do the cleaning but sharing the tasks can actually be fun, if you approach it the right way.

The first thing to do is to find out what your prospective homemates opinions are about what “clean” means. And whether or not it is a deal breaker for them.

For some, clean means spotless. For others, it means tidy. And so on.

Then together, you can discuss the specific “rules” you want or need in regard to:

  • who will do the cleaning and how often
  • will each person clean their own bedroom
  • how will you keep the common areas (living room, kitchen, bathrooms) clean and tidy

Naturally, rules should be somewhat flexible and account for certain times when the cleaning does not get done for good reasons. Also, everyone has to be tolerant about how the cleaning is done because everyone will likely have various ways of completing the tasks. For instance, one person may prefer to dust first and then vacuum, but another homemate may do it the other way around.

It’s a mistake to expect your homemates to do things the way that you do them. Just keep that issue to yourself and be grateful that the job is getting done and you don’t have to do it.

However, you might want to consider what you will do if one homemate never seems to get her jobs done or if she never fully completes her jobs. Then, include your decisions about this in your homemate agreement.

Instead of doing the cleaning themselves, some homemate groups hire a cleaner once a week or so. Others hire a cleaner to do the harder jobs (ceiling light fixtures, windows etc.) once or twice a year.

Who’s cooking tonight?

Meal preparation, grocery shopping and kitchen clean-up usually require lots of discussion.

You and your homemates will need to consider things like:

  • how many shared meals, if any, per week
  • the timing for cooking and kitchen use when not sharing meals
  • who will do the clean-up when you share meals; how soon after using the kitchen should a homemate clean-up after herself
  • how will we organize grocery shopping and the costs of shared meals

Again, flexibility is essential because not everyone may want to eat the same foods or at the same time of day.

Whose furniture to keep, store or give away?

Check out our “Less can be more; Downsize first!” article for
more information on this topic.

This article assumes that everyone in your homemate group has already gotten rid of things they no longer need or want, or they are in the process of doing this.

Naturally, it is preferred in shared living homes, that each homemate’s personal space (usually just a bedroom) is hers to furnish and decorate as she sees fit. However, which furniture and decorations end up in the shared spaces is generally decided by all homemates together.

So, your homemate group will need to share information about the furniture each member has and wants to keep. It can be helpful to visit one another’s homes to have a look at the furniture, pictures etc. and then decide as a group which pieces will work best in the common areas of the shared home.

There may be a need to store some furniture and/or personal belongings, and some homemate groups will get a storage locker and share the cost. Sometimes, there is a basement or garage where things can be stored.

The most practical solution is for everyone to get rid of what they don’t need before moving in together. However, some homemate groups have a garage/yard sale after they are living together, and this can also work out well.

What about guests…..

Living with others means that we can’t make independent decisions about some things any more. Inviting guests, friends and/or family to visit is one of these issues because it affects everyone in the home, not just you.

Here are some of the things your homemate group needs to discuss:

  • how many guests at a time; how often and for how long
  • just adults or also children
  • arranged ahead of time or on the spur of the moment
  • how to manage extra costs related to guests, like food

Overnight guests is a more complex decision. For instance, will your homemates be okay with you having an intimate partner stay overnight?

Naturally, the size of your home will determine how many guests can be accommodated for a visit and whether or not there is a place for them to sleep. So some decisions need to be made after you have found a place to live.

Managing outside maintenance…..

Most people are not aware that landlords are required by the Residential Tenancies Act to maintain the yards and walkways of their rental units. This includes houses, not just apartments or condos. So, your landlord is responsible for snow removal and yard maintenance like grass cutting, removing or repairing hazardous things in the yard etc.

(Once you are a member here, you will receive more specific information about this issue.)

If your homemate group prefers to do the snow shoveling or grass cutting themselves, you must get a separate agreement about this added to your lease and include how the landlord will compensate you and what equipment the landlord will supply, like a snow blower, shovels, ice melt, a lawnmower, rakes etc. Your landlord should lower your rent by a reasonable amount to compensate you.

Since none of us are getting any younger, SWLT recommends that your homemate group DOES NOT take on these tasks. Keep in mind that your physical strength and ability will wane as you age. For instance, at age 60 you may be physically able to do the work but at age 65 or 70, it may be impossible. Plus, if you get hurt doing the work and need special treatment to recover, an insurance claim might be needed and this gets complex relative to your landlord.

Gardening is a different issue, though. Landlords are not responsible for beautifying the property but most of them have no problem if the tenants do things because it improves the value of the property. So, if you enjoy gardening and want to spend the money and time putting in flower beds or a vegetable garden, you can likely go ahead. Just check it out first with your landlord.

How to handle the rent and utility payments…..

In shared living arrangements, with everyone responsible for a specific portion of the rent and utility payments, these portions need to be collected prior to the payment dates.

Your homemate group needs to decide how the collection will be done and who will complete the payments to the landlord and utility companies. It is usually simple for homemate groups to agree on how to do this.

What is a little more complex is determining how you will manage these payments for short-term or long-term absences, and if a homemate leaves for good. We provide lots of helpful information about these things once you are a member.

Safety Issues…..

A lot of women worry about being safe when they are living alone. Living with others appeals to many because of this.

However, there are still some safety considerations when living in a shared home.

A lot of landlords do not allow appliances like a kettle, a mini-fridge or a microwave in the bedrooms. This is due partly to the risk of fire but also these kinds of appliances gobble up electricity, and the home may not have enough capacity.

If your landlord will allow these kinds of appliances in the bedrooms, your homemate group needs to decide if it is worth the risk.

No one wants to be responsible for burning the house down. Let’s face it. We are not getting any younger. Although, our mental capacity and memory might be good now, how will it be in 3 or 5 years? Perhaps using electric appliances in the bedrooms is simply not a good idea.

Your homemate group may want to consider some other safety issues. Like no scatter rugs that are tripping hazards; checking that doors are locked; adding safety bars in the bathtub area; ensuring everyone has a spotter if using a stepstool.

A broken hip, arm or leg is not something any of us wants for ourselves or for our homemates.

What about insurance?

Your landlord must maintain building insurance, so you don’t need to worry about that. But contents insurance can be a good idea.

The problem is that it can be hard to get contents insurance for unrelated people living together. The insurance companies have not yet caught up with shared living rentals, so often they will only insure families for contents insurance.

SWLT has a relationship with an insurance broker who has been able to get contents insurance for some of our homemate groups. Once you are living together with your homemates, contact us for more information about this.

More information on these and other topics…..

If you have concerns about your pets and shared living, check out this article: Including Pets in Your Shared Living Home

For links to all of our “Getting Started” articles, go HERE.

Are you ready to become a member and start looking for potential homemates?
Go HERE to learn about our membership options.

Getting Started

What is different about living with a homeowner or a leaseholder?

Shared living with a homeowner or leaseholder can be a very satisfying experience. Once you are certain about your compatibility, the relationship can often become a source of joy for both of you.

However, the option of renting space with a homeowner or leaseholder does come with some risks you should know about. To explain, first let’s look at the Residential Tenancies Act and how it governs landlords and tenants.

The importance of the the Residential Tenancies Act…..

In Ontario, the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) provides rules that landlords and tenants must comply with. And the specific rights that tenants have are enforced by the Landlord Tenant Board. The Board makes binding decisions on the issues brought forward, and both landlords and tenants are required to comply.

Consider this example. The Residential Tenancies Act requires that landlords give 60 days notice of eviction in writing to tenants. If a tenant believes the eviction notice from her landlord does not meet the legal requirements, the tenant can request a Board hearing. Ultimately, only the Board can evict a tenant.

But the RTA doesn’t cover homeowner rentals!!

However, if you live with a homeowner and share a bathroom and/or kitchen with this individual, you are not considered a tenant and the homeowner is not considered a landlord, so the Residential Tenancies Act does not apply. You are essentially considered a guest in this situation.

Neither the homeowner nor the homemate have any legal requirements to meet, and the homemate has no protection or recourse if something goes wrong.

Making an informed decision…..

We believe in full disclosure about all aspects of shared living. So, we provide information on this issue to enable you to make an informed decision if you choose to live with a homeowner.

We are in no way suggesting that homeowners can’t be trusted or that living with a homeowner is too risky to even consider. In fact, we welcome homeowners in SWLT as a good shared living option for some senior women.

In order to provide some protection for homemates, we developed a separate process for homeowners. They enter into a social contract with us and agree to provide specific clauses in their homemate agreements that protect their homemates.

If you own your home and are looking for homemates
to live with you, go HERE to learn all about
our homeowner process.

What about leaseholders?

A leaseholder is a person who has signed a lease with a landlord. The Residential Tenancies Act definitely governs this rental relationship. However, when a another person is living with the leaseholder, they are only covered if they also sign the lease.

Unfortunately adding another person to a lease can get tricky. Some condo corporations will simply not allow it. Some landlords may refuse to allow it.

Our requirement regarding leaseholders….

In order to ensure protection for our members, we require that leaseholders agree to add their homemates to the lease. And they sign a declaration indicating their landlord has agreed.

We highly recommend that homemates sign the lease prior to moving in.

If you are a leaseholder and looking for homemates to live with you,
go HERE to learn all about our leaseholder process.

Join the adventure.
Go HERE to learn about our membership options.

Getting Started

Including pets in your shared living home

You may be wondering how your beloved pet will fit into a shared living arrangement. Or if you don’t have a pet, you may be wondering how much care you will need to provide for a homemate’s pet.

(If living with pets is a deal breaker for you, seek out others who feel the same way.)

Pets need to be compatible too…..

As a pet owner, when you are looking for compatible homemates for yourself, you are also looking for compatibility for your pet. As well, your potential homemates may also have pets. Then, you are looking for compatible petmates for your pet.

It sounds a bit complex, but it can work out perfectly with a little planning. Here are a few tips.

1. Check the profiles for those who have pets and those who are willing to live with pets.
2. Include lots of discussion about your pets when you chat with potential homemates. Share both the good things about your pet but also the behaviours that might be troublesome for others.
3. Be sure to introduce your pets to each other and let them spend time together to ensure that they get along well.

The Internet has lots of information and even YouTube videos about how to introduce pets to each other and then help them get along. It’s well worth the time to share this information with potential homemates in order to create a workable and effective plan for introducing your pets.

Discuss and agree on specific rules for pets…..

Pets need lots of care and attention and for the most part, the owner of the pet will likely provide what is needed. However, all homemates may have to take a caregiving role from time to time. So, it is essential that details need to be discussed and decisions added to your homemate agreements.

Have discussions and create agreement on how your homemate group will manage all of the following pet issues:

  • feeding, exercise and elimination
  • discipline and training
  • allowed on furniture and beds
  • cats allowed on kitchen counters
  • chewing and scratching
  • barking and other noises
  • managing the pet when the owner is absent

Would you like to chat with others
who are looking for homemates?
Check our our membership options HERE.

Getting Started

Take Your Time: A happy home isn’t created in a day

Probably the worst way to use our service
is to rush through it.

Take the time to learn, to get all of your questions or concerns answered, to take a good look at yourself through each step. After all, sharing a home means sharing your life to at least some degree. Make sure you feel some confidence that this is the right kind of housing for you.

Having said that, I also need to warn you about “analysis paralysis”. This happens when we over-think something to the point that we simply never make a choice or decision. And therefore, we never solve the problem.

And you came to this website to solve a problem, right?

What problem are you trying to solve?

Maybe your problem is your rental costs are so high there’s nothing left over for fun. Or you are going further and further into debt each month just to keep a roof over your head.

Perhaps you find it lonely to live alone. Or you are worried about being alone with no one to help you if you fall or get sick.

Keep the problems that brought you to our website in mind as you work through our process. Know that the end result (happily living together with compatible homemates in an affordable home) will solve your problems………….if you take your time and do it right.

Start by learning…..

Check out our step-by-step process to get an overview of what we do. Then read our getting started articles to learn how to prepare for your journey into shared living.

Start to picture it…..

Take the time to imagine it. What would it be like for you to share meals with others, share a kitchen, perhaps share a bathroom? What are the pros and cons for you? Would you like to share your personal activities with others or not? How much time would you want to spend with your homemates?

As you go about your daily activities, start to picture what your day might be like living with homemates. Think about your best case scenarios and your deal breakers. For instance, would you want to live with someone who smokes cigarettes or cannabis? How about alcohol use? What personality traits would you want your homemates to have?

There is no right way to share a home…..

Keep in mind that some members will be interested in a high level of interaction with their homemates; others will prefer less interaction. Some potential homemates will be a good fit for you and others won’t. No matter what your preferences are, there will surely be others with the same ones.

We will support you through the whole process.
Click HERE to learn more about becoming a member.