Just a few weeks ago, a very prominent person referred to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies as “The Joint Center for Doom and Gloom.” So who is this negative person? Answer: it’s Christopher Herbert, the center’s own managing director. The reason is that the future state of housing for boomers as we move into our late 60’s and beyond is gloomy indeed, if you’re looking for a landscape of seniors mostly living alone.
In fifteen years, 20% of the population will be 65 or older, and we boomers aren’t in the same financial state our parents were when they reached that threshold. Right now, 30% of those 65 and older spend more than 30% of their income on housing, and 70% of Americans in their 50s and early 60s are still paying off mortgages. Housing is now and will continue to be a huge drain on our income – to the point of forcing us to skimp on essentials like food and medical care, if we insist on living alone.
We’re going to need to plan for the next years in terms of where we are now – not where we expected we would be by the time we were entering our later years. Shared housing is going to be a choice that is increasingly preferred – which is good, since living with others not only saves expenses and eases the work of maintaining a home, it certainly fosters independence and bolsters one’s social life. Not least important, as we’ve talked about in earlier posts on this blog, living with other women actually fosters better health and a longer life. What could be better?