Affordable Housing Shortage Triggers Major Spike in Shared Accommodation Searches

Affordable Housing

House sharing is typically associated with students and younger people looking to combine independence with affordable living. But as the living-cost crisis tightens its grip on UK households, more over-50s than ever before are setting their sights on shared accommodation.

The latest figures published by a flat-sharing website indicate an almost 240% increase in the number of 55- to 64-year-olds seeking shared housing over the past decade. The site also noted a 114% increase in shared accommodation interest in the 45-to-54 age group.

Most of those seeking shared accommodation are aged 25 to 34 years old, but the number of older adults showing a willingness to share accommodation with other renters paints a stark picture of the UK’s housing market.

Unsurprisingly, the communications director of the website in question told the BBC that astronomic monthly rents coupled with the cost-of-living crisis were the main factors motivating older adults to seek shared accommodation. Mr Hutchinson also said that more people than ever before were accepting the prospect of becoming lifetime renters, having been completely priced out of the housing market.

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, average rent prices have been increasing steadily and consistently for well over a year now. More people are spending greater proportions of their income on monthly rents than ever before, as landlords continue to increase their prices due to skyrocketing demand.

On average, monthly rent prices have increased by 3.2% over the past 12 months, taking the average monthly rent outside London to £1,126.

The pros and cons of shared accommodation

Surveys conducted by leading home-sharing sites and services suggest that most of those considering shared accommodation are doing so purely for financial purposes. Elsewhere, others have reached the conclusion that the financial benefits (i.e., savings) of house sharing outweigh the potential disadvantages.

Even so, those who are considering moving into shared accommodation at any age are advised to consider all pros and cons carefully.

For example, the main advantage of shared housing is comparatively low living costs. Your monthly rent payment is much lower, and you share the utility bills with your housemates.

In addition, you may be able to secure a place in a property that is otherwise out of your price bracket. This is particularly true when it comes to city centre accommodations and homes in desirable locations in general. By renting a space in a shared house, you could live somewhere that would otherwise be out of reach.

Some older adults moving into shared accommodations have also spoken of the potential social benefits. Making connections as an older adult is not always easy. Shared housing brings the benefit of ‘built-in’ friends. This can be particularly beneficial for those who feel lonely or insecure about living alone.

On the downside, there are no guarantees that you will get along with your new housemates. Their lifestyles and behaviours, in general, may clash with yours, making it difficult to live together harmoniously.

Likewise, conflicts over facilities and resources in shared housing are common. You may have become used to the freedom of having your own kitchen and bathroom, for example, only to now have to wait in line for your turn.

There is a lack of privacy and seclusion that comes with shared housing. Even if you have your own private space within the house, you still technically live with several other people. Whether this is a good or bad thing is a matter of personal preference, but it can still be quite an adjustment to have lived independently beforehand.