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‘We share food and save money!’ Why living with friends in retirement is great for these two Swansea locals

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Swansea residents Cei Kerslake and Gillian Morgan say living next door to each other in retirement has brought them closer together and helped them to save money – and they’re not the only ones that think living with friends in retirement is a good idea.

Cei, 85, and Gillian, 77, have been friends for over 40 years and now live in apartments next door to each other at Homegower House, an independent-living FirstPort retirement development in Swansea.

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The pair met while at their local Scouts group and have been friends ever since.

Gillian explained: “We each experienced the loneliness of living alone in larger houses and wanted to downsize. I would come and visit Cei who moved into the development first, and eventually I decided to buy a flat of my own right next door.

“Living next door to each other has brought us closer together as friends, and we now spend five days a week together, doing activities like eating out with friends and joining in the development activities.”

Cei says that living close to each other in retirement gives them the peace of mind that they can rely on each other when its needed, whether that’s a medical emergency or just borrowing milk for a cup of tea.

She added: “We actually tend to share food and save money on our weekly shop. We never expected to live so close to each other in later life but the company we offer has brought us so much joy, we would encourage anyone in a similar situation to us to do the same.”

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It’s not just Gillian and Cei that think living with friends in retirement has its benefits. In fact, one in three (30%) people over 55 would consider having a housemate in later life to save money and avoid living alone, according to research by FirstPort.

Almost a third (31%) of the 2,000 over 55-year-olds polled said they would be open to moving in with a friend in retirement, with more than one in six (18%) admitting that they’d rather live with friends than family.

The UK’s leading property management service provider, FirstPort, who commissioned the study, believes the ‘retirement roomie’ trend will only continue to grow as people look to save money.

The company has seen a 27% increase in enquiries for independent-living retirement developments in the last year, with many requesting to move to the same development as their friends – some even as next-door neighbours.

According to the research, one in eight (12%) of the Baby Boomers questioned said the pandemic had changed their attitude towards communal living but financial fears (63%) remained their biggest concern.

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Other reasons cited for co-living were company (40%), safety (25%) and sharing household chores and admin (15%).

Gareth Cayford, Director Retirement at FirstPort says: “The events of the last few years have had seismic impact on people’s attitudes towards later life, leading many to completely re-think what they want in retirement, and who they want to spend it with.

“We are seeing a growing number of enquiries for friends and families looking to live near each other or in the same development buildings, and we expect this to continue to rise in the future – especially with increasing living costs.

“It’s not just a prudent choice but one that demonstrates that independent retirement development living – with communal lounges and spaces to socialise with friends – is more important than ever”

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