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Meet the Odd Couple: Q&A with Intergenerational Roommates Rebecca and Vanessa

 

Two intergenerational roommates sitting on a patio bench, both smiling

Rebecca (right) and Vanessa (left) were matched in October 2020 through Odd Couples Housing’s homesharing service.

What do a retired RN and occupational therapy postgraduate have in common? Well, a lot more than you might think! Homeowner Rebecca and seeker Vanessa found one another with help from our unique homesharing and roommate-matching platform. Vanessa’s studies required a three-month stay in St. Louis, and she was on the hunt for just the right place.

Here, the former housemates — and now, friends — answer a few questions about their experience, the matching process, and how our Matching Team became their silver bullet.

First thing’s first: Why did you sign up for Odd Couples Housing?

R: I had four years of experience hosting international high school students. And after COVID-19 hit, they couldn’t come back. A friend of mine tried Odd Couples Housing and had a great experience; She referred me.

V: I’d never been to St. Louis, and was a bit nervous to travel there alone! I wanted a safe housing situation with someone who knew the city. I was also interested in the concept of intergenerational living and thought it’d be a fun opportunity to try something new — a homeshare program that assisted with matching roommates was perfect! And, being on a student budget, having lower monthly expenses was very appealing.

Has homesharing impacted your life in any way?

R: It has enriched my life. Vanessa and I still keep in touch, and I’m looking forward to her returning for a visit someday! My new roommate, Neera, is very sweet and kind. I’ve had some health issues lately, and she’s always willing to help. Neera is from Nepal; I enjoy learning about her home. Our age difference makes things interesting as we both learn from one another. You can make good friendships through Odd Couples Housing, which is a big plus!

“I could not be happier with my Odd Couples Housing experience!” –Vanessa, Seeker

V: I could not be happier with my Odd Couples Housing experience! It was a fabulous fit for me. I had a safe and affordable place to live while keeping my housing costs down. And I made a great friend who helped me fall in love with St. Louis. I’m so happy I made the choice to sign up!

What would you say to someone on the fence about joining?

R: You meet the best prospects through Odd Couples Housing. The matching quiz is instrumental to see who’s a good fit. You can meet your matches virtually, or the Matching Team can arrange a home visit for you, which is great. I am now in my second homeshare. And I find it reassuring knowing that I have their support if there are any difficulties.

V: Odd Couples Housing is committed to making sure that every match is a success. Rebecca and I met in a Zoom meeting, where we thoroughly discussed our living styles and preferences. The Matching Team communicated with both of us throughout my entire stay, which made me feel secure that if any issues came up (which none did!), they’d be there to help.

Answers have been lightly edited for clarity.

About Odd Couples Housing

Our mission is to connect generations. Intergenerational housing gives older and younger people the chance to strengthen their community while enhancing their own lives. Whether you’re looking for a compatible roommate or a less expensive place, we’ll connect you to the right people who fit your lifestyle and personality.

Looking for a compatible roommate in Denver or St. Louis? Sign up now to get started FREE!

Announcing Denver Colorado – Press Release

How Two Generations Facing Loneliness & High Housing Costs Became Housemates

Before Yuki, an international college student, returned home to Japan due to the coronavirus outbreak, she and Amy (a physician) had been happily living together in Amy’s University City home for months. Despite their age difference, Amy and Yuki enjoyed each other’s company and bonded over their love of Amy’s cats. They both appreciate the financial benefits of home-sharing, but that’s not their main motivation for participating in Odd Couples Housing. They agree that the main advantage of living together is feeling more connected and less lonely. 

Amy and Yuki were among the people interviewed last week on Saint Louis Public Radio (NPR) by host Sarah Fenske. Last Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air episode also featured Odd Couples Housing Co-Founder, John Levis, and Director, Brian Carpenter who discussed the company’s mission and how we work. Tune in to hear the interviews!

Pandemic Housemates

Like Amy and Yuki, many of our homeowners and their roommates are glad to have companionship while sheltering-at-home. We’ve stayed in touch with our matches during this difficult time, and are happy to report that all is well. We especially enjoyed hearing from the daughter of one of our longest-standing matches who told us that having a younger person living with her mom has given her considerable peace of mind. She said, “especially during the pandemic, it has been such a gift to have them there. The Odd Couples Housing program has been a lifesaver and a true blessing for our family!”

We’re happy that our roommate matches are able to support each other right now. Who are your biggest supports during this time? How do you stay connected with them? Take time to check in with your friends and family, seek things out that make you smile, and find ways to keep your mind and body active. 

Whether you live with housemates, family members, or by yourself, you’re probably adjusting to increased time at home. Limiting social time and activities can be hard. But, it can also create time to think about what you’re grateful for, reconnect with loved ones, and plan for the future. We don’t know what life might look like in the coming months, but we have a feeling that we won’t be taking our social connections for granted! 

Did You Enjoy Hearing Yuki & Amy On The Radio?

If you enjoyed hearing Yuki and Amy’s story, we recommend tuning into this episode of The Mark Reardon Show. Earlier this year, another Odd Couples Housing match (Erika and Diane) shared their experience as roommates on the air. Start at 9:25. 

If the home-sharing situation might be a good fit for you–-now or in the future–-please sign up on our website.

Aging in the 21st Century: Challenge and Opportunity

Odd Couples Housing has the pleasure of working directly with Dr. Brian Carpenter, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Carpenter, whose research and teaching focuses on aging, has a pulse on the challenges and opportunities of an aging society. He offers new perspectives and raises important questions about the changes we’ll face in our homes, communities, and the national front, as the U.S. population grows increasingly silver. At Odd Couples Housing, we’ve learned much from Dr. Carpenter  to support our mission to create a sustainable future through inter-generational home sharing.

Recently, Dr. Carpenter recorded a brief Ted Talk style lecture that highlights key themes for those considering inter-generational living. We recommend you watch it. The graphics are particularly powerful. Below, we’ve summarized the main take-away from Dr. Carpenter’s talk and we’ve posed a few questions to help you think about our aging society.

Did you know the world’s population is aging? 

The number of adults over the age of 65 has grown steadily over the last 100 years, and it is expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future. As the baby boomer generation ages, we will see more and more people living into their later life. In fact, we are already seeing the demographic shift towards an older population, with expectations that the U.S. population over the age of 65 will double by 2060. Interestingly, the age group that is growing the fastest in terms of its proportion of the total population are our centenarians, or those over 100. 

How will this affect your own life, now and in the future?

What are the implications of an aging society?

In coming years, our population will begin to resemble the demographics of Florida, where approximately 20% of the population is over 65 years old. This shift towards an older demographic will impact many areas of our daily lives. It will affect health care, transportation, technology, finances, travel, leisure, culture, and of course, housing.

Where do you see indications that the U.S. is growing older?

What about Aging in Place?

Many older adults prefer to stay in their homes and communities as they age. While aging in place has many advantages, there are also challenges on many fronts.  Physical changes can impact mobility, cognition and ability to live independently. Financial changes can threaten a person’s ability to maintain a home. Changes in social networks might mean that a person is more isolated in their home.

Have you thought about where you or your loved ones would like to age? How will you plan to meet their needs?  

Why is remaining socially connected so important?

Staying connected to a social network or support system is vitally important for people throughout their lives.  As we grow older, the psychological benefits of social engagement are particularly powerful. Research indicates that strong social networks are associated with lower risk of depression and dementia, and higher life satisfaction. 

What do you do to stay connected to your friends and social networks?

How does inter-generational connection help?

Socializing with people across age groups is a vibrant form of social connection. Through inter-generational interactions, both younger and older people can learn new skills and perspectives that help to break down age-related stereotypes. When we spend time with different generations, we are more likely to engage with people as individuals, rather than lumping them into a trope or stereotyped category. 

How can you connect more frequently with individuals from another generation? 

If this has piqued your interest, Dr. Carpenter makes many more fascinating points about what it means to live in an aging society in his full talk. Consider setting aside ten minutes of your day to watch! 

What are the challenges and the opportunities we will face in years ahead in response to the aging of our population?

4 Tips to a Great Start With Your Next Roommate

Living situations are important parts of our lives. Whether you are older, younger, moving into a new place, opening up your home, used to roommates, or sharing space with someone for the first time, it’s important to be comfortable in your home space. Settling in with a new roommate can be an exciting time–full of opportunities to connect with someone new–but it can also bring about a sense of apprehension about the unknown. What if things don’t go as smoothly as planned? What if I need a night to myself? Could we eat dinner together sometimes?