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Category Archives: Golden Girls Living

Getting Ready to Downsize? Don’t Go it Alone!

There are many events in life that can prompt you to move or downsize to a smaller, more appropriate-sized living space. Some of them, unfortunately, are fraught with stress: divorce, death of a spouse, changing finances, and increasing frailty are just a few examples. Combine this stress with the logistical and emotional struggle involved in sorting through a lifetime of treasured possessions, and you have the makings of a truly unpleasant experience.

That is why if you are considering downsizing or moving, you might think about bringing a professional in to help you deal with all these potential problems.

A move (whether it is to a shared living arrangement, an apartment, or to a smaller house) usually involves getting rid of a lot of personal belongings that may not have a place in your new home. Deciding what to keep and what to sell or donate can be both physically overwhelming and emotionally traumatic for many people. Bringing in a professional organizer – someone who can help make clear, objective decisions about what to keep and what to part with, as well as find the right resources for donating or selling the things you no longer need – can take a huge burden off your shoulders. A professional organizer can also help you determine which items will fit well into your new, Golden Girls home, and which possessions do not.

Another area that some professional organizers specialize in is paper management. In getting ready for a move, you may come across years of accumulated files that are out of date and no longer needed as you transition to your new home. A professional organizer can help you decide which papers you need to keep, which ones you can scan, and which ones can go straight to the shredder or recycle bin. The last thing you need to be doing is packing and moving boxes of useless paper!

Professional organizers can also help you plan the logistical aspects of your move and provide both physical and moral support on moving day (sometimes taking the place of a son or daughter when they can’t be there to help a parent). A professional organizer can help supervise the move itself, and then on the other end make sure that everything gets unpacked and organized into the right spot, so that your new place feels like home right away. Starting out with “a place for everything and everything in its place” can make moving to a shared house, new apartment or home that much easier.

Finally, consider a mental health professional as an essential part of the equation, especially if your move is due to a major life change. There are many professionals that specialize in helping people work through these kinds of transitions. They have the ability to help you through the mental and emotional turmoil that accompanies life-changing events such as divorce, illness or other loss, and make you feel at home in your new life.

There are many experienced professionals who can help you navigate these choppy waters – don’t go it alone!

This post was contributed by Penny Catterall, founder of Order Your Life. Since 2009, Order Your Life has helped clients in the Washington, DC Metro area control clutter, improve workflow and make life simpler. Order Your Life offers home organization services, as well as downsizing, move management and settling in services. They are also available to help you organize ‘virtually’ anywhere in the world.

21 Inexpensive Ways to Have Fun With Your Golden Girls Housemates

21 Inexpensive Ways to Have Fun With Your

When you move into a Golden Girls home, you not only save money on housing, but can find great friends as well! But moving in with one or more strangers and getting to know new people can sometimes be difficult. Here are 21 ways to have fun with your housemates that won’t break the bank, but will turn new roommates into lifelong friends!


  1. Binge watch a favorite TV show. Don’t waste a perfectly good rainy day by watching TV alone. Grab your housemate and a bowl of popcorn and fire up your favorite old shows or the new ones you’ve been dying to watch.


  1. Schedule a morning walk. Make a habit of taking a morning walk together several times a week. Fitness is more fun and more likely to happen when you have a friend exercising with you.


  1. Enjoy a “Grandchildren Day.” Invite everyone’s grandkids over for fun. Arts and crafts? Barbecue and slip n’ slide? Embrace your inner child and come up with fun ideas for all the housemates to celebrate each other’s grandchildren.


  1. Have a picnic. Eating a meal outside just seems to make it special. Cart up the house’s dinner and take it to a nearby green space, or plan an outing together and grill at a favorite park.


  1. Join or start a team together. Whether it’s a bowling league, a golf team or a bocce ball league, playing a sport together is a great way to encourage a team spirit among your housemates on the field and at home.


  1. Stay-at-home spa day. Pull out the nail polish and facial masks and enjoy a spa day at home together. Soaking feet in warm water is a great way to break the ice for new roommates.


  1. Introduce a new housemate to your favorite place in town. Whether it’s a coffee shop, movie theater or local bookshop, take your housemate to a place you really enjoy in your community. Ask her to do the same. It will give you both insights into what makes the other person smile.


  1. Host a wine tasting. Have every housemate contribute an inexpensive bottle of wine. Try them in small sips and decide which one you like best. Wine.com is a great resource for finding short descriptions and ratings of wine. Have an alcohol-free home? Have a coffee tasting or sun tea tasting!


  1. Create a question bowl. Write open-ended questions on slips of paper and put them in a bowl in the middle of the breakfast table. Answering questions like “What was your favorite vacation?” and “Which superpower do you wish you had?” when you’re lounging around the table is a fun way to get to know your housemates.


  1. Cultural day. Take advantage of the museums or other arts opportunities in your area. Research before you go – most museums offer free tours that will give you and your housemates an even richer experience.


  1. Cook one meal a week together. Housemates can alternate who cooks the meal or everyone can chip in.


  1. Plant a garden. Have a green thumb? Work together with your housemates on a garden project! Or if a full vegetable garden isn’t your thing, clear a small patch together, grab a pack of mystery seeds and see what blooms. Friendship certainly will.


  1. Take a fitness class together. Check your local gym or senior center for a fitness class that you can take together. Area churches many times provide space for pay-as-you-go fitness classes such as Jazzercise and Zumba that do not require a long-term commitment.


  1. Create a birthday tradition. Celebrate the wonderful years your housemates have been on this planet by establishing a house birthday tradition. Keep it simple so that you’ll keep the tradition going; a cupcake and a favorite cup of coffee is a great way to let each other know you care.


  1. Book club. Hearing your housemate’s perspective of the book you’re reading is a wonderful way to get to know them. Alternate between the latest best seller and the classics.


  1. Plan a daytrip. Once a month, take turns planning a fun day out of town. That day spent on a hike, at an outlet mall or exploring the next town over will create inclusive, “Remember when…” memories for your group.


  1. Grocery shop together. Nothing makes the mundane task of grocery shopping more fun than strolling the aisles with a friend.


  1. Create a house music collection. Ask every housemate to go through their albums, tapes, CDs and iPods and select favorite songs. Then compile them to create a house music collection. A great way to start a morning or end an evening is with the gentle strains of everyone’s favorite music playing through the house.


  1. Play cards or a board game. A little healthy competition is a great way to get fired up with your housemates. Just remember to be nice! You still have to live together when the cards are put away.


  1. Dessert buffet. Indulge your sweet tooth and follow up dinner with a dessert buffet! Each housemate can cook or purchase their favorite dessert to contribute. Make it even more fun and invite other friends, too!


  1. Be spontaneous. You can’t always plan those moments when your housemate has a little more pep in her step and is ready for some fun. If she wants to chat or go for a walk or just get out of the house, go with it. The spontaneous fun you share with her now will build trust and affection for the future.


How else are you bonding with your housemates? We’d love to hear about your ideas! Share with us on Facebook!

3 Innovative Options that Make Aging in Place Possible

The old standard of retiring and shuffling off to a retirement community is being re-written by baby boomers who want to enjoy their homes, embrace their communities and age in place as long as they can. By renovating their homes, engaging in the “Village” model, and finding innovative solutions like the Golden Girls Network’s Home Companion program, it’s now possible for baby boomers to stay in their homes longer.

Only 7 percent of retirees have moved into a retirement community, according to a recent study, and 85 percent of retirees hope that when the time comes for long-term care, they can receive it at home. Why is aging in place more attractive to baby boomers than seeking the kinship and services of a retirement community?

  • Two-thirds of retirees say they are living in the best home of their lives. With work and family obligations no longer weighing on them, retirees have more freedom to choose the home and location that meets their wants instead of their needs.
  • Many retirees want to use their free time to re-connect with their communities and a majority of them (67 percent) want that community to be diverse in age rather than homogenous.
  • With family members living in different parts of the country, half of retirees are keeping their larger homes instead of downsizing to make it possible to welcome family back for vacations and holidays.

And to make staying in their homes more feasible, retirees are developing creative solutions.

Home remodeling – Home modifications for aging in place is the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry, according to the National Association of Home Builders. 55+ households account for half of all home renovation spending. Many retirees are interested in making investments in technology – such as apps that control appliances, health sensors and cleaning robots – that make their homes safer and easier to maintain. The NAHB provides a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist designation to builders who have received education on the topic, and the AARP has a HomeFit Guide to guide homeowners through the process of making their home age-in-place ready.

The “Village” Model Neighbors Network – serving Winter Park, Maitland, Eatonville and other communities north of Orlando, Florida – is one example of the “Village” model, which involves coordinating volunteers to help with the inside-and-outside of the home tasks that might become difficult as a person ages. Minor home repairs, picking up and returning library books, and friendly visits are all benefits of becoming a member of Neighbors Network. They also provide access to paid professionals for services the Network can’t provide. The first “Village” – also known as virtual retirement community – was established in Boston in 2002, and the Village-to-Village Network helps to establish and manage models of it throughout the country.

Golden Girls Network – One of our goals at Golden Girls Network has always been helping people 50+ stay in their homes by matching them with like-minded housemates who can share expenses and provide companionship. Our Home Companion program will take our assistance to those who wish to age in place a step further. Managed by our soon-to-be-established Golden Girls Foundation, this program will match older Golden Girls with housemates who, in exchange for reduced rent, will handle household duties the homeowner is no longer able to handle on her own. This is not a replacement for a home health agency, but rather a great complement that allows women (or men!) to stay in their homes longer. We’re very excited about this new offering, and will release more details soon.

10 Tips for Finding a Great Golden Girls Roommate

Ready to join the movement of mature adults sharing housing? You’ll enjoy an affordable living situation and have the opportunity to make friends for life.

But like all good things, finding a great roommate takes work! But it doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are 10 tips to help make your path toward shared housing an easy one.

  1. Join Golden Girls Network! Even if you search and don’t see anyone in your area immediately, join! If you don’t, the next woman (or man) that visits the site won’t know that you’re out there either.
  2. Create a detailed profile. Take the time to tell others what makes you a great roommate. Remember the old adage, “you only have one chance to make a first impression.” Make yours as fabulous as you are!
  3. Search! And, connect. Be proactive. Don’t wait for others to contact you. Search the network for others that fit your criteria, write to them, and get the conversation going.
  4. Respond! If you receive a message from an interested roommate, give her the courtesy of a response even if you’re in the process of talking to someone else, have already found another roommate, or aren’t interested. Be sure to respond directly to the member contacting you and double check your message is going to her – not back to Golden Girls Network. You’d hope for the same to your inquiries! Plus, you never – even if the person that contacts you isn’t the right fit, she might know someone who is.
  5. Stay engaged. Check your spam. Sometimes inquiries from members end up in your spam folder. Check there! To help inquiries land in your inbox, add info@goldengirlsnetwork.com to your email contacts.
  6. Search again. Didn’t find your match on your first day on the network? Look again! New members are joining daily so there’s always someone new that might be the right fit.
  7. Be flexible. Perhaps there isn’t a Golden Girls home right in your neighborhood. But have you considered one town over? Or a condo instead of a single-family home? We’d never recommend compromising on your non-negotiable criteria, but for other factors, be open to options and alternatives – it will greatly increase the pool of available homes and roommates and you might find something terrific you hadn’t previously considered!
  8. Take your time. Living with a stranger is a big commitment. While some homeowners offer month-to-month leases, even a few weeks can feel like an eternity if the roommate match isn’t a good fit. Spend time interviewing one another up front. Look for any red flags that might make the potential roommate simply not the right fit. There’s a home for everyone so don’t feel bad if you’re not the right lid for someone’s pot.
  9. Update your profile. Once you’ve found your match, update your profile to indicate that you’re not actively looking. You don’t have to leave the network – we love having you! Plus, should you need to move (for whatever reason!) or need to find an additional roommate, your profile will already be there and ready to go.
  10. Bottom line – make it happen! We can’t stress it enough – take an active role in finding your next home or roommate. Registering alone is not enough. You need to search, respond, and engage. By taking a few extra minutes, you’ll set yourself on a path to a great shared housing experience.

If you’re having trouble, we’re here to help! Email us at info@goldengirlsnetwork.com or call us at 301-383-1482 and our fabulous customer service manager, Regina, will be glad to help.

In Bonnie’s Words: My Kitchen Story

leek-640530_1280Not long before we divorced, my husband and I remodeled our kitchen and it became a dream place to be.  I bought every gadget and new dishes.  The colors all matched.  The countertop was pristine, and it was mine.  Guests would come over and offer to help.  “No, that’s OK,” I would say as the captain of my own ship.  Every two weeks, the cleaning lady and I would scrub and polish.  I was in heaven!

Fast forward three years and I am alone in my home.  I didn’t want to leave my newly remodeled home and decided to get a roommate.  Then one day, my roommate decided to make a large pot of homemade soup.  She bought lots of stuff, chopped, sliced, quartered, and generally made a mess.  IN MY KITCHEN.

I was horrified!  I sat on the stool across the counter from her.  My teeth clenched as she used my costly Henkel knives.  Waste accumulated in the sink.  She spilled a thing or two.  She stirred the soup and left the spoon dripping on the counter.  I couldn’t stand it.  I bit my tongue, clenched my jaw, and wrung my hands.  After all, this was a shared living situation, and she had full kitchen privileges.  This was my stuff and she was misusing it.  She moved the canisters out of the way so she could work.  I poured a glass of wine and watched.  I don’t quite remember, but maybe I commented a time or two.

Eventually, the soup was done, the trash was taken out, the counter was cleaned, the disposal was run, and the knives were back in place.  I survived.  She survived my deeply suppressed wrath.

I have a big house and have filled it with roommates over the past eight years.  One roommate had raised six children and took over the kitchen almost every evening.  She cooked.  I sat on the stool and she would take out a plate, fill it, and pass it over, “Here’s your dinner.”  Another roommate had a bad habit of breaking things.  She always replaced the item but sometimes it didn’t quite match.  Another roommate fried a lot of her food, and the grease got on the cabinets and stove hood.  I started buying cheap stuff, and accumulating those plastic contained that stuff comes in.

A few of the dishes have been broken.  There are some chips here and there.  The knives need sharpening.  The pots and pans are well used.  The cleaning lady still scrubs the kitchen every two weeks.  It’s still pretty, but it is just stuff.

Will I remember this stuff?  No.  I will remember the times we got together and did a group dinner, everybody working on something to contribute to the meal and taking turns at the stove.  I will remember how often someone offered me a slice or a serving.  There are the great cookies that someone made for Christmas and the birthday parties.  I will remember the new foods that someone cooked that I had never tried before and the conversations and laughter over dinner.  I will remember how quickly a group of women can clean up after a dinner party!

Now, I look at my wonderful stuff in the kitchen, and realized that it doesn’t matter if all the silverware doesn’t match.  I will remember the friends who came over and shared a meal with us. I continue to enjoy the stuff and I’m glad to have it, but it is not the stuff that matters any more.  It’s a nice way to approach life.

Golden Girls Shared Living on the Rise

Bonnie Moore (left) and Victoria Clarkson

Bonnie Moore (left) and Victoria Clarkson

If you’re like me, you weren’t surprised to read about the recent Age Wave/Merrill Lynch study finding that two-thirds of retirees now say they are living in “the best home of their life.”

I too am living in my dream home, but with a different cast of characters than I could have ever imagined. When a divorce left me living alone in newly remodeled 5-bedroom home in 2008, I searched for and found four roommates to fill the bedrooms.

Now more than eight years later, my roommates have become an important part of my life. In addition to contributing rent that makes my mortgage affordable, we throw parties together, get to know one another’s friends, and help each other out.

Golden Girls Living on the Rise

I call it the Golden Girls (or Golden Guys) Lifestyle and it is shared housing for mature adults. In 2000, there were 820,000 households where single people ages 46 to 64 shared housing with non-relatives, according to Bowling Green State University’s Center for Family and Demographic Research. By 2013, that number had risen to 1,090,000.

That’s right—roommates aren’t just for college students anymore! The shared living movement is being embraced across the country as an exciting aging-in-place option for baby boomers.

People are looking for answers because housing cost are too high both for retirees and those of us who are still working. People are lonely when kids grow up and their spouse is no longer around. Many struggle financially. Shared living is a great solution.

Finding the Right Roommate

“Finding the right person” is at the top of the list when you decide to embark on this adventure. But, who is right for you? How do you know? Start with, “Who am I, and what is important to me?” When you know these answers, you know who you are looking for!

Start by considering these common deal-breakers. Does she/he smoke? Is it OK with you if the person is an outside smoker? Will she/he bring a pet? Sometimes pets don’t like to move, and they let you know. Bringing in a new pet is a “two-fer!”

Are there cultural or lifestyle differences that will become too difficult? I encourage diversity, but sometimes you can live next door to someone but not in the same house. For instance, are there significant differences in religious practices, eating habits, hobbies, political interests, working hours, and a bunch of other things that are important for a comfortable living situation? You have to decide what works for you, and then talk about it.

Other Shared Living Considerations

Age Differences. Look for a roommate that is within ten years of your age, and don’t go beyond twenty years on either side. With too much of a difference, you will notice the age nuances and it will frustrate you!

Cleanliness factors. Most women are accustomed to housework and will keep a place in good shape. Some women, however, really need things to be back in their places immediately, every spot wiped off the counter, and the floor swept daily. If this is you, find someone like you. If this is not you, same advice.

Can you get along with his/her personality? Are you fairly assertive and outgoing? Are you quiet and bookish? How would you assess the personality of a potential roommate? Can you sense an “angry” factor beneath the surface? How would you assess the “honesty factor”?

Interviewing a potential roommate is a lot like a job interview. He/she will tell you what you want to hear. It is your job to listen below the surface and hear danger signals. Trust your intuition. Selecting a good roommate takes patience, but it can be done. You also learn a great deal about yourself and you learn to develop assertiveness!

Where to Start

Once you identify the factors that are important to you, start advertising and talking to your friends. Print up a flyer and pass it out at your church or community groups. Develop a listing for some of the major roommate sites, including Golden Girls Network, and keep talking about it! Don’t be afraid to interview a number of people before making a decision.

Most of all, start developing your written house agreements and a written lease. Even if you decide to rent on a month-to-month basis, you need it in writing. Don’t take anything for granted…get those details down in writing. Be positive and forthright, and decide what is important to you.

*This article first appeared on changingaging.org
See the original article by clicking here.

Is Golden Girls Living Right For You?

Golden Girls

Roommates Bonnie Moore, 69, Lori James, who is in her early 50s, and Gloria Holloway, 63. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Are you wondering if sharing a house and household duties with like-minded women and men over 40 would work for you? Check out our list of qualities that make for a great housemate.


You’re looking to re-invent yourself. Perhaps you’re questioning the circumstances, meaning, and direction of your life and resolving to do things differently. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to surround yourself with other people seeking change? Sharing your home and life with other Golden Girls who are “reinventing” provides laughter, companionship, and financial and emotional support as we go down that crooked path called life.


You have an extra room where you live. That home with all of those wonderful memories can begin feeling a little haunted when you’re the only one roaming around in it. Sharing a room in your home, townhouse, or apartment with a Golden Girls housemate will give you someone to say “hello” to at the end of the day, someone to share your grandchildren stories with and someone to call when your car breaks down.


You enjoy home-based activities. You enjoy cooking a meal and doing some gardening and getting some exercise. Now imagine how much more fun the meal planning and dirt digging and taking a walk could be with another person. Golden Girls Network allows you to find like-minded people who can help transform the household duties into household delights.


You are healthy and not ready for assisted living or moving in with your children. The momentum we had as younger adults can feel like it’s stalling as we age. The end of a marriage and childrearing and a career can leave us wondering what is next. We’re here to tell you that it is not a retirement home. Golden Girls Network can help you arrange a living situation that will provide an exciting next step in your life.


You would like to make new friends. Perhaps that one person who received all of your unconditional love – a spouse, a child, a parent, a best friend – is no longer around. But we all deserve lives filled with laughter, joy, and companionship. Golden Girls Network can connect you with people who share your interests and value the unique qualities you bring to a friendship.


You can no longer afford to stay in your home by yourself. All kinds of circumstances – job loss, a divorce, an economic downturn – can make keeping that home you love difficult. By inviting a Golden Girls housemate to live with you, you can gain the confidence of financial stability while creating a welcoming environment for someone who might become a lifelong friend.


You are feeling a lack of community. Golden Girls Network can help you build your own “community” using the resource of your home. Find individuals interested in the same passions you have like cooking, the environment, or spirituality. Or, if you’re new to an area, you can quickly integrate into a community by becoming a member of a Golden Girls household.


You feel like you’ve become too focused on your job. If your job or volunteer position or hobby feels like the only activity you have to occupy your time, your Golden Girls housemates can bring new energy to your life. Inspiration from others is what keeps us from stagnating.


You like activity in your home. If you’re the kind of person who likes to have a friend over for dinner, host a committee meeting, or invite a crowd at Thanksgiving, then you are a perfect Golden Girls housemate. All housing situations are different, but the best ones thrive on the energy of like-minded people living and having fun together.


Ready to get started with your own Golden Girls home? We wrote the book on it! Get your copy of  “How to Start a Golden Girls’ Home” here and learn all the ins and outs of getting going.