Sharing a flat: give it a try

elderly roommates

February 17, 2021

Sharing a flat has never been easier and better. It’s usually done in college so that the cost of rent and others can be divided between flatmates. Obviously, it can go both ways from there, you can develop a great friendship, possibly even romance. But on the other hand, things can get sour really quickly if you don’t click. That’s what can happen when there’s a lack of options. When you get to retirement, it can definitely become an option, not because you need to share, but because you want to. It’s most certainly a great way to experience old age without feeling lonely and sad. This can also be arranged in order to avoid going to a retirement home. Sharing a flat can be a truly amazing experience, give it a try!

Want to learn more? Keep reading the article!

For a few years now, a new kind of advertisement has been appearing on the Internet on senior citizens’ websites. They come from people who are looking for a new way to share a house.

The experience is not new, many young people try it during their studies. Sharing the same flat with one or more strangers allows you to limit your expenses by dividing the cost of rent and utilities. The flat-sharing arrangement lasts for the duration of the university or until the protagonists enter into a stable romantic relationship.

When they reach retirement age, those who want to live in this way no longer have the same motivations. This time it is no longer a question of short-termism but of commitment to a new way of life in which the costs, but also the tasks, joys and sorrows of daily life are shared. It is a new way of combating loneliness and loss of autonomy without having to go to a retirement home. The concept comes to us from Northern Europe and is starting to gain followers in our country.

Since 1998, French-speaking Switzerland has been timidly tackling the issue with what is known as “domino flats” (domino = DOMIcile Nouvelle Option; and means “Assembling for a better life together”) imagined by Professor Hermann-Michel Hagmann. Installed in the heart of traditional rental buildings where people of all generations live, and which must be located in the city center, or in the heart of a lively neighborhood, these flats are managed by the Centres Médico Sociaux (CMS) offer flat-sharing to seniors who wish to do so. It is important to note that the number of flatmates is limited to 4/5 people, in order to facilitate social integration and intergenerational relations with the rest of the building and the neighborhood. Each person has his or her own bathroom, kitchen, and personal space, which is looked after by a carer. Valais is a forerunner in this field, followed by Jura, while the canton of Vaud is also planning to set up Domino flats. Domino flats are integrated flats with medical and social supervision; they are not so-called protected flats, of which there are unfortunately too many to avoid the risk of ghettoization. This way of life allows seniors to live in their own furniture and to benefit from the services of life assistants and meals at home for a reasonable sum, including rent, of around 2000 francs per month.

Roommates – how to deal with

The colocation experience also tempts people aged 40, 50, 60, and over, who wish to live in a community in complete freedom, without having to use the services of a CMS. In search of a new convivial and supportive life project, they commit themselves to it, alone or as a couple, determined not to lose any of their independence. The websites advertising shared accommodation for the over the forties and fifties offer several possibilities: accommodation offered for sharing by an owner who does not live there or who only partially occupies it, or searches for other people to form a mixed or all-female or all-male flatshare. Without going through these ads, some applicants prefer to go into the adventure with long-time friends with whom they have been preparing this project for a long time.

The experience can be extremely positive, but it can also turn into a fiasco if certain precautions have not been taken. The break-up of families, the fear of loneliness, the financial advantages, the desire not to depend on one’s children, the desire to live differently, all push senior citizens to take the step of sharing a home. The desire to share a place to live under the same roof with other people is commendable.

However, it is important to make sure that you can get along with them in the long term. To do this, you have to get to know each other, make sure that each person has more or less the same expectations, and is sufficiently sociable to be able to envisage sharing a flat. Getting along well does not mean that you do not have to set some rules before you move in together. They must take account of each person and be thought out together. In the event of a dispute, your rules, drawn up in writing, will be indisputable and will serve as an arbitrator. For the payment of rent, unless your landlord has included a solidarity clause, each flatmate is responsible for his or her share. When you sign the contract, be aware that this clause can have serious consequences. If it is clearly mentioned in the rental contract, the other tenants may be obliged to pay the full rent if one of them suddenly moves out.

Choosing the right one

Whether you decide to live with two, three or more people, it is important to choose the right people. Not everyone lives at the same pace or has the same tastes. If you share the house with someone who goes to bed at the same time as you get up, who likes to party while you are more of a homebody, there is a risk of disagreement at some point. Respect for others is the basis for harmony in this type of cohabitation. But it is still preferable to find people who have the same rhythm of life as you and who share some of your tastes. Sport, cinema, gardening, going out, traveling. The fact that you share the same passions will be a good basis for your future life.

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