Living in ‘republic’ at age 66: how rising rents push more Brits into shared housing | Economy

More and more people over 50 live in apartments or shared houses in the UK due to rising rental prices.

According to the largest shared rental website in the country, SpareRoom, since 2011 there has been a 239% increase among people between the ages of 55 and 64 looking for a shared place to live. Among adults aged 45 to 54, there was a 114% increase in this same search.

But most people looking for this type of housing are between 25 and 34 years old.

Five years ago, 66-year-old Karen Miles moved into a house with 13 people to save money.

She previously lived in a two-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Eastbourne, in the south east of England, but began to struggle to pay her rent and property bills.

Rising cost of living has made it more difficult to pay rent alone — Photo: Getty Images via BBC

Today, she shares a house with people who are between 20 and 50 years old. Though she gets along well with everyone, they don’t tend to socialize together and Karen, who works part-time as a housekeeper, says getting along with younger people can be problematic.

Previously, she had problems with some of her roommates because of the noise they made and because the shared kitchen and bathroom used to get dirty quickly. However, she recognizes that living with other people also has its benefits, such as having someone around to talk to.

“If I moved somewhere alone, I think I would probably feel a little lonely,” she told the BBC.

Many older people struggle to pay rent and bills — Photo: Getty Images via BBC

Situation that lasts

Karen is trying to find a one-bedroom apartment for rent, but with rising prices, she’s had trouble finding something affordable. She also wanted to share housing with friends, but says it can be difficult for older people to find someone their own age to share the rent.

“My friends have husbands and families, so it’s hard,” she explained.

SpareRoom’s Communications Director Matt Hutchinson said the main reason more seniors are sharing a home is their financial situation. As he told the BBC, the rising cost of renting or buying a house means more people share for longer.

For example, people who have ended a long-term relationship could previously buy or rent a one-bedroom apartment, but this becomes more difficult in the current scenario. Hutchinson believes the trend will continue as housing values ​​and other costs rise further.

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at financial firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said official figures also indicate that tenants are aging. And she added that figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggest that the cost-of-living crisis is felt more by tenants than by those who own their own property, as tenants spend a greater proportion of their income on home.

Susan wanted to live alone, but started sharing housing to save money — Photo: Susan Laybourn/BBC

In addition to the difficulties in finding other people of the same age to share the house, many suffer from the fact that there is still the stigma of living in a shared place after a certain age.

Susan Laybourn, a 58-year-old woman who moved into shared housing to save money in March 2020, says she initially felt “almost ashamed” that she couldn’t pay the rent on her own.

“Now I’ve accepted it and I try to see what’s positive in that instead of negative,” she said.

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