When Does Your House Stop Being Your Home If You Need to Apply for Medicaid?

Medicaid is a state and federal program which pays medical costs for low-income adults with or without children. Medicaid also covers people aged 65 and older, blind or disabled, or pregnant and cannot pay their medical bills.


However, most people do not realize that Medicaid also pays for nursing home care as well. For seniors who require long-term care and meet the financial eligibility criteria, Medicaid has a program which covers long-term care and pays for almost 100% of their nursing home costs.


To qualify for Medicaid, you must have under a certain amount of non-exempt assets. In 2020, in Illinois, for example, to qualify for Medicaid long-term care benefits, applicants must have less than $2,000 worth of non-exempt assets. As an elder law attorney, one of the biggest questions I am faced with when helping individuals with Medicaid planning, is “can I keep my house?” And in typical attorney fashion, the answer is, “It depends.”


In this article, we are going to discuss situations in which you can keep your home while remaining eligible for Medicaid.


Homestead Property

If a Medicaid applicant applying for long-term care benefits to pay for nursing home care has a “homestead property”, i.e. their home, it will be regarded as an exempt asset under the Medicaid rules as long as it is occupied by the applicant, the applicant’s spouse or the applicant’s minor, disabled or blind child.

The home will also be regarded as an exempt asset when the applicant intends to return to the home from a nursing home or medical institution. The Federal Medicaid guidelines use a subjective standard in making this determination and the house will be exempt as long as the applicant expresses an intent to return home.

If the Medicaid applicant does not intend to return to their home, it can still be exempt as homestead property if it is occupied by either:

The person’s spouse;

A dependent sibling of the person;

The person’s child under age 21 or the person’s adult child who has a disability; or,

The person’s son or daughter who provided care to the person and resided in the home for the two years immediately before the person moved to the long-term care facility.

However, if the Medicaid applicant abandons homestead property without the intent to return, the property becomes non-homestead property and will be considered a non-exempt asset.

Another important point to remember is that the Medicaid applicant’s income cannot be used to maintain this home; that must be transferred directly to the nursing home (some exceptions are made for spouses.) If the occupant cannot afford to maintain the home, that should be a factor in a discussion of whether the home needs to be sold.

Transferring Homestead Property

Be careful if you are considering transferring your home as a gift to avoid it be counted as an asset. Medicaid treats the transfer of the applicant’s home like any other asset and you may incur a penalty making you ineligible for Medicaid for a period of time.

Medicaid provides a five-year “lookback” period in determining whether the applicant transferred assets for less than fair market value. The timing of the transfer and when the applicant applies for Medicaid are also very important. If done correctly, the applicant may be able to transfer the home to the following classes of people without incurring a penalty:

The applicant’s spouse;

The applicant’s minor child or disabled adult child;

A sibling with an ownership interest in the home who has been living in the home for at least one year before the applicant went to a nursing home;

or, An adult child with no disabilities who has been living in the home for at least two years prior to the applicant going to a nursing home, AND, who cared for the applicant, allowing the applicant to live at home rather than in a nursing home.

It is important to reiterate that transferring your home to the above individuals does not guarantee the transfer will be exempt from Medicaid consideration. If Medicaid finds that the transfer was done solely for the purpose of making the applicant eligible for Medicaid, it may be counted as an asset and you may incur a penalty. A Medicaid Planning attorney or benefits specialist is essential to ensure your application is done correctly and your assets are properly titled to better your chances of approval.

While this article is meant to provide general information about Medicaid asset exemptions, these rules are not absolute and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have questions about Medicaid, Medicaid Planning or asset exemptions, it is important to contact an experienced Medicaid or elder law attorney in your area.

Experienced Charleston Realtor specializing in Homes for Seniors

I have been a licensed Realtor since 1987 and a broker since 1995.  Because, I am also a Senior, it seemed natural for me to further my education and become certified as a Senior Real Estate Specialist.  I will help you with all of your real estate needs including selling your current home.  We have many communities built just for those 50-55 and over but we also have some beautiful Senior Centers in other areas.  I'll help you to gather the information you need to make the choice and guide you through the entire process and beyond.  We will be friends for life! I am the  owner and broker in charge of ON THE MARKET Properties of Charleston LLC. I am also a listing specialist in Charleston SC, and can help you find out what your home is worth, whether it is in Goose Creek, Summerville, Charleston or Mt. Pleasant.  Contact me for a list of homes for sale in any area around Greater Charleston.  I look forward to meeting you and welcome you to my site.


National Median Age Increases 1.2 Years as Aging Boomers Grow Older According to a recent US Census Bureau population estimates report, boomers have increased the national median age by 1.2 years. Growing to 34.2% in the last decade, the nation’s 65-and-older group contributed to the rise of the national median age of 37.2 years to 38.4 years. The increase of over 65-year-olds is expected to rise from 16.5% to 23.41% within the next 30 years. Areas of the country with the highest median age reported, in 2019, have been found in Maine and Florida, with the lowest median age in Utah, Washington DC, and Alaska. This was taken from my Senior Real Estate Specialist Newsletter. 


 If you will contact me, I can send  listings to your email.   You are under no obligation but you will have access to all homes which meet your criteria PLUS new listings as they come on the market.  Through me, you can get information on all new home builders and all re-sale homes listed by all Realtors in this area.  It takes a lot of research and legwork to see everything Charleston has to offer.  I can make it easier for you.   You can go to new home builders on your own but then you will only see what one builder has to offer.  The agents at New Home Builder's Communities REPRESENT the seller.  You need someone who can REPRESENT  YOU at no extra cost to you.  In SC, the seller generally pays the real estate commission from the proceeds of the sale.  My services are of my no cost to you if you are a buyer.



 Moving is a big job, but when you're a senior and you're moving from the home you've raised your family in to something smaller, you have some specific considerations you have to make. You can take measures to reduce the stress of the days ahead. Here's a guide to help you through the process as you get ready to downsize and prep for your move.

1. Knowing When It's Time to Downsize Life happens quickly. One day you're in the midst of raising your kids, tripping over one another in a house that barely seems big enough, and the next your kids are grown and you're left with a large house that's more work than it seems to be worth. Most homeowners do not buy their homes with the intent of downsizing, but as they enter their senior years, the realities of owning a large home begin to catch up with them. Knowing when it's time to downsize is not always easy, but these tips and guidelines should help a little. Here are some signs that it's time to consider downsizing: Need to Stretch the Budget - Your retirement savings are only going to go so far. If you need to stretch them, then it's time to consider downsizing to stretch your housing budget. House Upkeep Becomes Overwhelming - If the task of cleaning and maintaining your home is overwhelming, and you don't have the budget to hire outside help to do the job, then it's time to consider downsizing. Vacant Rooms - If you have multiple rooms in your home that you never use, then you don't need them. They are costing you money to heat and maintain, and downsizing will fix this problem. You Need a Different Layout - As we age, getting up and down stairs gets harder and harder. If you have a multi-story home, you may need to downsize to a single-story home or apartment to ensure you can navigate your home successfully. If you're noticing any of these are true about you, then downsizing is going to be the right choice.

2. Sorting Belongings Once you've made the decision to downsize, then it's time to sort through your stuff. Moving to a smaller place means you can't take everything with you, no matter how attached you are to your things. To sort, you will need to sort your things into four basic categories: Keep, Store, Sell/Give, and Trash. Start with one area of your home at a time, even if it's just one closet or one dresser, and go through each item, deciding which fits into which category. If you're having trouble figuring out what to toss, look for these key signs that something is best thrown out or given away: You never took it out of the box It doesn't fit your style or needs You think "I might need this someday" It's old or out of date You won't use or read it again It's an unfinished project It hasn't been touched in more than a year and holds no sentimental value Furniture that won't fit in your new space Next, know which items should be stored. Some items you don't need for day-to-day living, but need to keep for a variety of reasons. Items that are best stored include: Paperwork and documents Items with sentimental value Seasonal items you don't have room to store at your new home Finally, decide what you should keep. Make sure you don't overlook: Sentimental items that you want to see regularly Items with high value that you wish to keep close Clothing items important for special occasions Keep in mind that the more you get rid of before your move, the easier time you will have fitting everything into your new space.

3. Packing to Move Now comes the job of packing. This is not an easy task, so make sure you give yourself enough time to do the job well. It's important to remember that packing is a physically demanding job. You are not as young as you once were, so give yourself enough time to handle the task without physical stress or injury. Here are some tips that will help make the job a little safer: Tackle Small Jobs - Break the task of packing your home into smaller jobs, which are much more manageable. Remember, you took many years to accumulate your belongings, so don't expect to be able to pack them in a week. Set aside an hour or two every day to work at the task until it's complete. Be Aware po Box Weight - Even if you have help on moving day, you might need to move boxes around your new home as you unpack, so keep the weight of the boxes in mind as you pack. Mix heavy items with light ones to keep the weight of each individual box reasonable. In general, make sure no boxes weigh more than 50 pounds. Ask for Help - This is probably not a job you can handle on your own. Ask for help. If help is not available, consider setting aside some funds to hire movers. Handle Fragile Items with Care - Be sure to wrap fragile items carefully, and add more layers than you think are necessary to ensure they come out of the process unscathed. Use Plastic Tubs - For items you will be storing for the long-term, use plastic tubs instead of cardboard to ensure that they are protected and safe. Pack a "Open First" Box - Unpacking is just as stressful as packing, so make your job a little easier by keeping one or two "open first" boxes with the essentials you will need for your first days in your new space. Items like bedding, linens and toiletries will be enough to get you through the first few days so you do not have to stress yourself to unpack quickly. Put this box in the truck last. Label Well - Labeling your items so that you know exactly what is in every box will help you unpack more quickly and effectively once you're settled in your new space.

4. Hiring Movers or DIY Move? After you have started downsizing your belongings and packing, you're going to need to make one of the most important decisions in this process - are you going to handle the move yourself, or hire someone else to do it for you. Before weighing the pros and cons, ask yourself a couple of questions: What is your health like? Can you handle taking on much of the tasks and come out healthy? How much family help is nearby? Does your family have time to help? How close is your timeline? Do you have the luxury of time? How far are you moving? If you think you could handle the move on your own, then you need to weigh the pros and cons of this decision. The main benefits of doing the move yourself are: Spending less money Ensuring your fragile items are handled well Moving on your own timeline, with the ability to move a little at a time The drawbacks are as follows: More physically stressful Greater demand for help from friends and family Expensive if you are moving cross-country If you choose to hire movers, you enjoy several benefits, including: Limited stress in packing More efficient and safe moving practices Better protection of large items with experienced movers Faster move Cheaper for long distance moves No need to rely on friends and family In general, if you are moving 500 miles or more, a professional crew may be the cheapest option, and will almost certainly be the least stressful option. However, there are some drawbacks to moving companies to consider, which include: Having strangers pack and handle your stuff More expensive for local moves So what's the bottom line? The answer to this question will depend on many factors, but if your health is compromised, you are moving a long distance or you don't have friends or family nearby who can help, then you're probably going to want to hire a professional. Otherwise, you can save some money by doing it yourself.

5. Keeping Moving Day Safe After all of your planning, packing and preparation, when moving day finally arrives, you're going to want to take some measures to ensure everyone and everything is safe. This is a big job, so a little forward planning is not going to be a bad idea. First, you are going to want to make sure you are not injured during the move. To avoid a serious back strain or even more serious injury, make sure you: Get sufficient help. You can't handle your move alone. Don't pack any boxes that weigh more than 50 pounds. Use proper lifting techniques. Leave the heavy lifting to someone younger, or use a dolly. Keep a clear path into and out of your home. Keep your pets away from your home on moving day. In addition, make sure you take care of your nutritional needs. It's easy to skip meals and drink breaks in the hustle and bustle of moving. Make sure you do not get dehydrated, and provide plenty of food for yourself and your team of movers to ensure everyone has the energy they need to do the job well. Next, make sure you take measures to avoid damage to your belongings. Make sure you stack boxes carefully, with heavier boxes on the bottom and lighter boxes on the top. Label the boxes so the top and bottom are clearly seen, and make sure you load the truck so that the heavy times are distributed near the front. This will protect the balance of the truck while driving to your new home. Finally, make sure anything that might shift during transit is tied down and secured properly. You don't want to arrive at your new home with damaged belongings!

6. Prepare for the Emotional Side of Moving For some, moving involves a new adventure, and as such is an exciting time, but this is not the case for everyone. Some people find the transition to be a challenge, especially if they are giving up living in a place that they made family memories. The home where children were raised and grandchildren were welcomed can be hard to leave. To prepare for the emotions of moving, make sure you first embrace them. It's normal to feel a bit sad when making this type of transition! Don't fear these emotions, as they are a healthy part of settling in to your new normal. That said, sometimes the sadness can turn into something more. Be aware of the fact that some seniors will struggle with a condition called Relocation Stress Syndrome after making a major move. This is defined as a "physiologic and/or psycho-social disturbance as a result of a transfer from one environment to another." Signs of this syndrome include: Depression Sadness Despair Confusion Apprehension Anxiety Sleep problems Withdrawal Isolation If you are noticing these signs in yourself, or if your senior loved one is experiencing them, be prepared to get medical or psychological help to ease the transition a bit.

7. Getting Settled in Your New Home Once you've moved, take some time to get settled in your new space. Here are some tips to help you settle in more quickly. Meet the Neighbors - Establishing social connections early will help you feel at home in your new space. Get to Know the Community - Whether the social events of your assisted living community or the stores and social opportunities around your town, take some time to get to know the community where you have settled. Unpack Logically - Start with the items you need right away, then unpack a little at a time until you're fully settled in your new home. Schedule a Party - Invite your family or friends over for a little housewarming. You may need to limit the guest list to ensure everyone will fit, but don't be afraid to show off your new space. Establish Routines - Routines go far in making you feel at home, so move towards routines as quickly as possible. Bring the routines you loved from your old home, if possible, to your new one. Change Your Address - Missing bills because you never received them is stressful. Change the address on all of your utilities, medical bills, insurance companies and credit or bank statements as soon as possible to ensure you are getting all of your mail. File a Change of Address form with the post office as well.

8. Extra Belongings: Store, Bequeath or Sell? As you sort through your belongings, you will find that you have a number of items that are still in good shape, but you simply don't need. In these instances, you will need to decide whether you are going store those items, sell them or bequeath them to your beneficiaries now. Making this choice is not always easy. Here are some guidelines that can help. First, decide which items you want to hang on to for a while. This is a highly personal decision, and will depend on how much storage space you have, or whether or not you choose to purchase a storage unit. If items hold specific sentimental value, are items you need on occasion and still think you will need or want to bequeath but aren't ready to do so now, then you need to store those items. Keep in mind that the more you store, the more you will have to spend for storage. Next, decide if there are any items you want to go ahead and pass along to the next generation. This can be a very rewarding way to part with your items. You will be able to see the next generation enjoy your items, but you won't have to store them. Some items that it makes sense to bequeath now include: Heirloom furniture you won't have room to use Special dishes or sets of china Decor that might have a sentimental value Antique and vintage items Finally, decide what items you can sell. Often, antique and vintage items can bring a significant price. Make sure you're getting a fair deal, though. Have items appraised by an antiques dealer before selling them to protect yourself.

9. Tips for Family If your elderly loved one is planning a move, here are some ways you can help with the transition: Plan more time than you think for the move. Older people take longer to make decisions, pack and settle in, so give enough time. Know when your help is wanted, and be ready to step in. Provide space when it's needed as well. Be prepared for frustration on the part of your parent, especially if the move involves a move to assisted living. Encourage your loved one to make friends as soon as possible after they move, which will help them get settled more quickly. Watch for signs of emotional distress. Even a move that was your loved one's decision can create trauma and stress as the time progresses. Have compassion for your loved one and the changes they are facing. Set the time schedule, and keep everyone on task. Help with the preparation of checklists that will help everyone stay on task.I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. I'm a great place for you to tell your story and let your visitors know a little more about you.

COPIED FROM Senior Real Estate Specialist Newsletter

Baby Boomers: What To Consider When Choosing Your Home to Retire In

As more and more baby boomers enter retirement age, the question of whether they should sell their homes and move has become a hot topic. In today’s housing market climate, with low available inventory in the starter and trade-up home categories, it makes sense to evaluate your home’s ability to adapt to your needs in retirement. According to the National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents (NAEBA), there are 7 factors that you should consider when choosing your retirement home.

1. Affordability “It may be easy enough to purchase your home today but think long-term about your monthly costs. Account for property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, utilities – all the things that will be due whether or not you have a mortgage on the property.” Would moving to a complex with homeowner association fees actually be cheaper than having to hire all the contractors you would need to maintain your home, lawn, etc.? Would your taxes go down significantly if you relocated? What is your monthly income going to be like in retirement?

2. Equity “If you have equity in your current home, you may be able to apply it to the purchase of your next home. Maintaining a healthy amount of home equity gives you a source of emergency funds to tap, via a home equity loan or reverse mortgage.” The equity you have in your current home may be enough to purchase your retirement home with little to no mortgage. Homeowners in the US gained an average of over $9,700 in equity last year.

3. Maintenance “As we age, our tolerance for cleaning gutters, raking leaves and shoveling snow can go right out the window. A condominium with low-maintenance needs can be a literal lifesaver, if your health or physical abilities decline.” As we mentioned earlier, would a condo with an HOA fee be worth the added peace of mind of not having to do the maintenance work yourself?

4. Security “Elderly homeowners can be targets for scams or break-ins. Living in a home with security features, such as a manned gate house, resident-only access and a security system can bring peace of mind.” As scary as that thought may be, any additional security is helpful. An extra set of eyes looking out for you always adds to peace of mind.

5. Pets “Renting won’t do if the dog can’t come too! The companionship of pets can provide emotional and physical benefits.” Consider all of your options when it comes to bringing your ‘furever’ friend with you to a new home. Will there be necessary additional deposits if you are renting or in a condo? Is the backyard fenced in? How far are you from your favorite veterinarian?

6. Mobility “No one wants to picture themselves in a wheelchair or a walker, but the home layout must be able to accommodate limited mobility.” Sixty is the new 40, right? People are living longer and are more active in retirement, but that doesn’t mean that down the road you won’t need your home to be more accessible. Installing handrails and making sure your hallways and doorways are wide enough may be a good reason to look for a home that was built to accommodate these needs.

7. Convenience “Is the new home close to the golf course, or to shopping and dining? Do you have amenities within easy walking distance? This can add to home value!” How close are you to your children and grandchildren? Would relocating to a new area make visits with family easier or more frequent? Beyond being close to your favorite stores and restaurants, there are a lot of factors to consider. Bottom Line When it comes to your forever home, evaluating your current house for its ability to adapt with you as you age can be the first step to guaranteeing your comfort in retirement.

If after considering all these factors you find yourself curious about your options, contact me so I  can evaluate your ability to sell your house in today’s market and get you into your dream retirement home! 

Copied from Keeping Matters Current

I have a new TEAM MEMBER

My husband, a retired Navy Veteran and Maintenance Director, has joined my real estate team........helping wherever he is needed.  If you are looking for a team to work with, choose us, the Fursts, for first class service.

Baby Boomers to Drive Home Design Over the Next Decade

February 26, 2019

By 2030, the number of people who are 65 and older will be larger than the number of people under the age of 18, for the first time in the nation’s history, according to recent U.S. Population Survey projections. The year 2030 is when the last of the baby boomer generation will turn 65. After that, one in every five Americans will be of traditional retirement age. The aging population will reshape interior design over the next decade, according to the American Society of Interior Designers’ 2019 Outlook and State of Interior Design report, released last week. The “traditional family household model is being replaced by more fluid, variable configurations based on lifestyle and social identity,” according to the ASID Outlook report. Single-occupant housing, shared housing, same-sex households, and single-parent households are all becoming more standard. Here are a few characteristics worth considering with the aging population: Accommodating aging in place: A growing trend of remodeling homes to accommodate older adults will likely continue, whether they are moving into a family member’s home or making their own home work as they age. Some of this may be tech-oriented design, such as supportive “smart home” additions for senior wellness with beds, flooring, lighting, window panes, toilets, and more. "Designers need to keep up with the changes and anticipate how new technologies may alter the design paradigm in the future,” according to the ASID Outlook report. There are five aging-in-place remodeling projects that have seen some of the largest growth from 2013 to 2017: Added lighting, such as task lighting; curbless showers; grab bars; nonslip floors; and wider doorways, according to a 2017 remodelers survey from the National Association of Home Builders. Growth of shared homes: Older adults—particularly women 60 or older—comprise the largest demographic of Airbnb hosts (about 45 percent), according to a 2016 Airbnb study, endorsed by AARP. On average, hosts 65 and older earned $8,350 in supplemental income annually for a single property, as of April 2016. They may be using home sharing to supplement income or offset other expenses, the ASID report notes. Saying the term “age in place”: Using the words “age in place” to describe renovations for the aging population may not be as enticing to baby boomers as the term “thriving in place,” suggests a separate 2016 report from Home Advisors. “‘Aging in place’ is a misnomer,” according to the report. “Whether we’re 25, 45, 65, or 85, our homes aren’t for aging. They’re for thriving. From pancake breakfasts with our kids and Sunday brunches with our friends to holidays with family, movie nights with our spouses and curling up with a good book, our homes are where we do the things we love to do, with the people we love to do them with,” according to the report. “Looking at aging in place through a new lens that acknowledges how we live–not just how long we live–will usher in a new generation of home-improvement projects that benefit the young, the young at heart, and everyone in between.”

Source: “ASID 2019 Outlook and State of Interior Design,” The American Society of Interior Designers (2019) and “This Demographic Will Drive Interior Design and Trends in Coming Years,” Forbes.com (Feb. 25, 2019)

Different Strokes for Different Folks- Don't buy what you don't Need

Senior Real Estate Specialist Pam Furst of Charleston SC

I am one of a small minority of Realtors who holds the designation of SENIOR REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST.   The classes I participated in covered many issues and topics that are unique to Seniors and Baby Boomers........I specialize in finding homes for active and independent Seniors (and baby boomers).   I am a member of the National, State and Local Association of Realtors.  I am also a member of the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service.  The LOWCOUNTRY SENIOR NETWORK is a group of business people dedicated to the service of the Senior Citizens in our area, and I am an active member.  In addition to THOSE qualifications, I have been licensed for over 30 years and am a SENIOR/Baby Boomer myself.  For fun and health, I participate in two local senior centers, joining in activities and exercise classes......



My husband and I at the Nursing Home. We love to spread Christmas cheer.

To care for one another, many retirees are living together

 The tenants make house rules, share chores and movie nights and decide collectively who gets to join the community. 

The tenants make house rules, share chores and movie nights and decide collectively who gets to join the community.

The first conflict came on the day that Deborah Knox moved in. It concerned a coffee table, or rather two.

Tired of living alone in a Tucson, Ariz., condo, Knox had sought to share a house. “I wanted some sort of relationship; I wanted intimacy,” says the 74-year-old. A mutual friend introduced Knox to Sharon Kha, who had Parkinson’s disease and needed help to stay in her three-bedroom house. “I had reached a point where I knew that I couldn’t stay at home by myself anymore,” says Kha, 75. “I’d either have to do assisted living or find someone who would live with me.” Another thing Kha had: a beloved coffee table, made of a mission door that had weathered the heat for decades in Mexico. But Knox came with her own sentimental table — a glass top on a base made of river driftwood from Verde Valley, Ariz., and carved by a friend who had recently died. Ultimately, Kha relented. “I thought I could win this argument — it’s my house, it’s my coffee table,” Kha says. “But if I win this argument, I can probably look at my coffee table at an assisted living place.”

Making a match Knox and Kha are an example of a modern retirement dynamic — older Americans seeking companionship, mutual care and, in some cases, a less expensive living situation.

By 2035, the number of households headed by renters 65 and older is estimated to swell by 80 percent, to 11.5 million, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. From this, a cottage industry has emerged. Companies like Silvernest and Roommates4Boomers charge a fee to match older renters and homeowners and help with background checks. Nonprofits such as Home Share Now in Vermont pair older homeowners with housemates who may help with chores. “There is a lot of discussion about the Golden Girls model,” says Wendi Burkhardt, the CEO of Silvernest, referencing the popular TV show of the ’80s and ’90s in which older women lived together.

The trend is more common among women, according to those who run matchmaking services. A couple of possible reasons are that women tend to live longer than men and may feel more comfortable living communally. But living with a housemate isn’t without challenges. Real life is not a sitcom. A homeowner may feel possessive of routines and belongings, while a renter may feel a loss of control. “Sharing housing is not the American dream,” says Michele Fiasca, the founder of Let’s Share Housing, a housemate service in Portland, Ore. Choose wisely Four years ago, after her husband died, Margaret McMullan began looking for a tenant to share her three-bedroom home near Montpelier, Vt. McMullan, now 79, could not afford to pay her bills on her small state pension and Social Security income. Home Share Now paired her with a retired man who had relocated from Texas. The relationship soured fast. Deborah Knox, left, and Sharon Kha are roommates. The pair had to decide which sentimental coffee table of their own to use in their living room when Deborah moved in with Sharon. It was Sharon's wooden mission door turned table versus Deborah's river dri KENDRICK BRINSON From left: Deborah Knox and Sharon Kha “He was obviously used to being in charge,” says McMullan, who likes to keep busy in her retirement with quilting groups and a wide circle of friends. By contrast, her new housemate rarely left the house. “He just was home all day, and was somebody with a lot of presence,” she says. He didn’t do the agreed-upon chores, like mow the lawn or lift heavy items. By the end of the two-week trial period — part of the Home Share Now process — McMullan suspected that the relationship might not work, but ignored her instincts. “I thought I could handle him,” she says. A month later, she told him to leave. But he refused. It took another two months, with help from Home Share Now staff, to get him out. When McMullan was ready to try again, she found the right fit in Brian Remer, 60, who was commuting to a new job two hours away from home; he needed a place to stay in Montpelier just four nights a week. For $400 in monthly rent, Remer gets a bedroom, sitting room and private bath. But he also shovels light snow, mows the lawn, lifts heavy items, cooks twice a week and provides some companionship. “We sometimes sit at the table chatting until 10 o’clock at night, talking about life,” McMullan says. “If you asked me if I’d ever live in a house with more than two women, I’d say, ‘Are you nuts?’ ’’ — Linda Simmons-Wilfert, 67. 

Extreme cohabitation Shared housing often means moving into someone else’s established home and agreeing to live by their rules. When Christine Bowdish, a real estate broker in Portland, Ore., bought an eight-bedroom house in a Portland suburb last year, she saw a way to change that equation. She wouldn’t live there herself, but instead rent the rooms to women like her — singles 55 and up. “We just want to survive and live out life to the fullest and be with our friends and our family,” says Bowdish, 62. “How do we do that?” She began filling the house last spring. By the beginning of this year, all but three rooms were rented. The tenants make house rules and decide collectively who gets to join the community. Linda Simmons-Wilfert, 67, a retired bookkeeper, was the first to move in. She had met Bowdish at a Let’s Share Housing meetup. Bowdish invited her to see the house, and it was there, while sitting on the porch sipping tea, that Simmons-Wilfert had an epiphany. “She’s telling me what she sees and what she wants and her vision,” Simmons-Wilfert says, recalling lilacs blooming in the garden. “And immediately I thought, This is absolutely my place. This is where I need to be. “If you had asked me even a year ago if I would ever live in a house with more than two women, I’d say, ‘Absolutely not! Are you nuts?’” she says. Instead, she’s discovered that she can live comfortably with a half dozen. “We get to explore what and who we are now at this stage in life.” At monthly meetings, they discuss problems and concerns. Rather than assign chores, the women do the ones they like best. So far, it works.


For Knox and Kha, any initial conflicts have been overshadowed by a newfound friendship. The two women started their cohabitation by mostly living in separate parts of the house but now share the space harmoniously. In exchange for free rent, Knox prepares some meals and helps Kha get dressed. “I expected my last years to be struggle and loneliness,” Kha says. “And it’s really turned out to be one of the happiest times in my life.”

Find the right roomie

Living with another person who is not family isn’t always easy. Before you pack your boxes and move in, be sure you and the person you’ll be sharing the kitchen and living room with are compatible.

Go deep

When you have your initial meeting (or better yet, multiple meetings), explore potentially thorny issues like politics or religion, says Annamarie Pluhar of SharingHousing.com.

 The women collect money for household items and split up chores. And discuss your living style: Do you like to spend hours quietly reading on the sofa, or do you prefer to have friends over for long chats?

Sweat the details

Decide how household costs will be divided. Does each person buy their own paper towels, or are such communal items paid for out of a common fund? How often is that fund replenished? Who is responsible for paying for the upkeep of the home?

Put it in writing

Draw up an agreement for rent and utilities, explaining due dates, late fees and termination terms. Stephanie Heacox, founder of Senior Homeshares, an online housemate service, recommends drafting an agreement that addresses questions such as: How often do dishes need to be washed? How will household chores be divided? Are overnight guests permitted? Will decisions be made by consensus or by majority vote? Or does the homeowner have ultimate say?

Try a test run

Set a trial period, usually two weeks, giving both parties a painless way to bow out of an unpleasant situation, a method used by Home Share Now in Vermont.

Hold house meetings

Seasoned housemates suggest setting aside a regular day and time for monthly or weekly meetings to discuss conflicts, concerns and household business.

But have fun, too!

Foster a sense of community with housemate activities, like a meal together or an outing, so friendship can blossom.




Ronda Kaysen is a columnist for the New York Times, writing about homes and real estate. 

Housemate Wanted. Must Lift Heavy Objects To care for one another, many retirees are living together by Ronda Kaysen, AARP, March 14, 2019

ANOTHER website of mine


is another of my websites with general information.  In case you forget this website, you can find me at this one or at my facebook page with the same name  CharlestonRealtorPamFurst


At the top, there are several names of pages and or categories.......you can click on any of them to move around.


CONTACT ME and My SPECIAL TRAINING are on the bottom row.

Under Senior Centers, you will find a list of Senior Centers in the Charleston Area.  These are ACTIVE community centers who generally only accept people 50 years or Better, with minimal membership fees.  These are not nursing or daycare centers.  They are for independent active people but if you need a little help now and then, someone will be close by. Under Senior Centers, you will also find a LONG list of places who give Senior Discounts.

If you click on Real Estate For You, you will see a drop down menu with several choices...........  Selling Your Home, Senior Communities and My Real Estate Blog.   Selling your home tells a little about the services I offer for selling your current home, Senior Communities has links and descriptions of several of the neighborhoods in the area who limit their ownership to people over 50-55 years or better.  These are not assisted living or nursing homes.  They are homes for active, independent mature people.  My Real Estate Blog is just some of my opinions about what is going on in the world or real estate. 

If you click on MORE THINGS TO DO, the drop down menu will give you the choices of The Good Old DaysPeace Thru Prayer, Charleston Events and My Youtube channels The Good Old Days are just some things to make you laugh, Peace Thru Prayer is made up of inspirational and spiritual quotes and prayers.  Charleston Events is a list of events happening around the Charleston area.  My Youtube videos is a page with links to my two youtube channels.  

Hospitals is a page of links to hospital websites and phone numbers.

If you get lost moving around the site, you can always click on either HOME or MORE to get back to where you started.   CALL ME please if you have any problem with the site.   843-509-5200 Pam Furst. I am open to suggestions. 

pamfurst@hotmail.com to email me directly or call me on my cell phone at 843-509-5200 ............This website is UNDER CONSTRUCTION.............New things will be added each day so stay tuned...............the best way to connect with real estate in the Charleston area is to contact me directly  ..........  Let me do the work for you!

Touring the INSIDE walls and ceilings of a D R Horton Home while Being Built

A glimpse into THE PONDS................Senior Community is Cresswind

My YOUTUBE Channel Southern Hatlady with videos of Charleston and More!