Noticing an unmet need for older people looking for flatmates in the City, 58-year-old Londoner Suzanne Noble launched a flat-sharing service aimed at this underserved group.
Contending with the high price of rent and the seeming impossibility of getting on the property ladder are not just blights of young Londoners. In today’s economic climate, older people are experiencing these difficulties too, and more are looking to find flatmates to share the burden of their rent or mortgage and others are hunting for a fairly-priced room and a companion.
When Suzanne Noble was looking for a flatmate to help with her finances and for a place in London for her long-distance partner, she realised that there was next to nothing catering to the needs of older people and the idea for Silver Sharers was sparked.
“It was when I was trying to help Bob [her partner] find a new place to live that I realised the challenges of trying to find him a shared home that matched his budget, with people who shared his interest and of a similar age,” Suzanne explains on the services’ website.
“I started talking to others about this who had also experienced the frustration of trying to find or fill spare rooms. I decided to take the plunge and set up Silver Sharers to find a simple solution to a complex problem.”
A resilient mother to two grown-up children, Suzanne has run multiple businesses and had her share of financial highs and lows.
At a point in later life when she wanted to carry on with her portfolio career and have the flexibility around how and when she worked, sharing her home seemed the only possible option.
After an assortment of Airbnb guests, Suzanne found the perfect roomie in 53-year-old Ameet. Despite having her reservations about house-sharing in her 50s, Suzanne wrote in an Age UK blog post that “I like our setup far more than I would have imagined.”
Suzanne and her roomie, Ameet.
“Ameet and I often share meals together, we have mutual interests and, when I just want to have a chat, he’s available.”
After successfully sorting her own housing situation, she helped her partner, Bob find a similar arrangement with a couple in their sixties.
Now she is helping other’s in London do the same through Silver Sharers.
Unlike other flat-sharing sites, compatibility is their key focus.
“The idea of Silver Sharers is to connect older homeowners with compatible people who seek a spare room in which to live and can provide them with social connection, a passive income or help around the house, if need be,” Suzanne wrote.
“There are multiple reasons, beyond financial necessity, why flat-sharing is desirable.”
“There are those seeking someone to live with an elderly parent in order to provide them with companionship and a sense of security. For others, it’s about having someone pay them to fill a spare room which affords the older homeowner the financial freedom to pursue a passion they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.”
Although most people who use the service get matched with people around there own age, there is no lower age limit.
Silver Sharers, says: “We’ve set our sights on older homeowners but see the benefits of ‘olders’ living with ‘youngers’ too.”
Younger people who prefer the company of the older and wiser to house party enthusiasts their own age can find a motherly or fatherly type roommate, while the young at heart can find someone to invigorate them.
While it is still early days for Silver Sharers, Suzanne is confident that it will continue to grow.
“I believe the way I and so many others like me live, in this type of shared housing arrangement, is a blueprint for the future as the cost of living in cities as expensive as London escalates and more and more people find themselves renting for life.”