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Bonnie Moore founded a new lifestyle for independent (but roommate-seeking) seniors with The Golden Girls Network.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Jun. 3, 2015 2 years ago

Learn to live like a 'Golden Girl' in Central Florida

Roommates for seniors
by: Allison Olcsvay

A self-described former hippie of Haight-Ashbury days, Bonnie Moore, now 70, returned to her communal living ways eight years ago.

After a divorce, she’d found herself with a large, newly remodeled home but no one to share it with – a modern day Blanche Devereaux. All she was missing were her own Rose, Dorothy and Sophia.

Inspired by the quirky ’80s TV show “The Golden Girls,” Moore was longing to share her home and companionship with other women. “My contemporaries,” she said.

Knowing that for most people her age the days of roomies had long since passed, Moore reached out to her community to see if there might be other ladies willing to share her home.

What she discovered in the process led her to found an online registry service – called the Golden Girls Network – for a growing cadre of seniors like herself with limited income and either a home to share or a need for affordable housing.

Since then, Moore has also written a book and teaches teleconference courses based on her experiences.

At a recent gathering in Maitland, Moore and Golden Girls Network regional affiliate and Winter Park resident Barbara Koehne presented the idea to a roomful of intrigued seniors.

The reasons for attending were varied; some were interested in trying out the concept for the first time, some wanted to find a roommate to share a common apartment, one gentleman is interested in building a custom house suited to the needs of senior housemates.

Maitland resident Carol Stone has had housemates in the past and has recently registered with Golden Girls Network to see if she might find a match for a new roommate.

“Someone closer to my age that I might have things in common with is what I’m hoping for this time,” Stone said.

The trend of seniors house-sharing is coming full circle as many baby boomers, wishing to age in place, are seeking affordable solutions.

There are many reasons one might consider the option, Moore said, including medical, social, economics and practicality reasons.

For Moore, the primary reasons were financial and social. “I needed help paying for my home and I was looking for someone to chat with at the end of a long day, someone to ask ‘How was your day?’ when I come home,” she said.

She currently shares her Maryland home with four housemates and, “Yes, we have a housekeeper,” Moore joked. “We couldn’t live without her!”

Moore offered guests several tips on how to make a home-sharing situation work.

First and foremost, “Check with local regulations and homeowners associations to make sure you are meeting all requirements.”

She suggested that homeowners interview potential housemates.

“Go out for coffee, get to know each other a little, make sure you get along. That’s an important first step.”

Having passed that hurdle, make sure you have a contract in place, clearly spelling out your expectations for each other, both in financial and practical terms.

“This is the place to lay out the terms of when rent is due, how it will be paid, etc.”

Moore also recommends some type of house rules defining expectations on who will do what, how common areas are shared.

“This can solve a lot of disagreements before they begin, a lesson I learned the hard way,” Moore said.

The Golden Girls Network website offers a matching service for homeowners and housemates, complete with background checks.

The cost to register is $39 for six months with unlimited searching.

So far, it’s worked out well for Moore, calling her home life “busy and vibrant.”

“We are all busy people, so busy in fact, we have to schedule intentional time to get together to share a meal,” she said. “Living this way is very freeing, many of the ladies who live with me have expressed joy over finally having the time and finances to do things for themselves, including painting, writing or traveling.”

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