Where Will You Live? A Curated Reading List for Solos
By Mary B. Young, D.B.A.
“Can you recommend any good reading on living arrangements for Solos?” asked a subscriber to The Soloist. Can I ever, I replied. As a researcher (who is also a Solo), I collect everything I can about aging solo—including the factors to consider in choosing your living arrangements.
Here’s a curated list of resources.
If you’re a Solo, I highly recommend two excellent books, each of which addresses the factors that make for good and bad living arrangements, as well as other topics.
- Sara Zeff Geber’s Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers (2018) has an entire chapter on “Deciding How and Where to Live” and several other related sections.
- Joy Loverde’s Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old? also has a chapter, “Where You Live Matters.” Her book is not just for Solos, but the topics covered are highly relevant.
These books may be available at your library. But I recommend getting a new or used copy of your own if you can―a small investment in your future well-being. For more insights, the shorter, online content below is free.
Articles and Blogs
I’ve clumped my recommendations into categories so you can find what’s most relevant to you. The first group identifies the factors Solos should consider when making decisions about where to live. The second cluster critiques popular options like continuing care communities, over-55 active-senior living and assisted living and suggests what would make them better for Solos. The third section discusses other options, including co-housing, communes, home-sharing, intentional communities, and naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCS).
If it appears that Geber and Marak are over-represented on this list, that’s because they truly “own” the topic of solo aging. They’re prolific bloggers and popular speakers; when journalists look for experts, these two are at the top of the list.
Solos’ living arrangements can make a huge difference in their overall quality of life. These articles discuss the factors that matter.
- How Do You Want to Live as You Grow Older?
- The New Aging Dilemma: Growing Older at Home Alone
- The Perils of Living Alone
- Keeping ‘Solo Agers’ Happier and Safer
- Living without Family: Five Stages of Self Care Seniors Should Know
- Let’s Focus on Community in Retirement
In addition, Making Room: Housing for a Changing America, published by AARP and The National Building Museum, presents innovative housing models to meet the needs of the country’s changing demographics—including Solos. You can read it online or request a free print version, which will arrive surprisingly quickly in your mailbox. The 80-page booklet is jam-packed with illustrated examples from across the country. While it’s written for policy-makers, community planners, and service providers, there’s plenty here to stretch the thinking of individuals who are thinking about their options.
Why Existing Options May Not Work for Solos and What Would Make Them Better
The housing market for older adults is in a state of flux. Developers, local communities, and agencies that serve this population are scrambling to meet the needs and expectations of the “new old.” These articles discuss some of the reasons that traditional living options fall short.
- Why Current Senior Housing Options Don’t Appeal to Solo Agers
- Will Boomer Solo Agers Move to Senior Housing?
- Is the Assisted-Living Community Ready for Solos Agers and Baby Boomers?
Living Options You Might Want to Consider
My previous blog, Finding a Home, describes a range of living arrangements that might be options for Solos. The articles (and one book) below discuss these options in greater detail.
- Aging in Place: Context Matters
- Elder Orphans Have a Harder Time Aging in Place
- How Do We Know What Works to Support Aging in Place? An Overview of the Village Model
- Plan for Aging in Place or Choose to Move to a Senior Setting
- ‘Active Adult’ is the Newest Housing Option for Older Adults
- Here’s How Senior Cohousing Differs from an Over-55 Community
- Communal Living & Cohousing: Types and Benefits of Intentional Communities
- Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities Score Lower on Livability
- Sharing Housing: A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates
Feel free to pick and choose since you may not want to read everything I’ve selected. Any of these resources will help you think about your needs and make sure your living situation will support them.
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