TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH NANCY JEUTTEN
June 3, 2021
Hello this is Nancy Jeutton. I’m the “Get Known to Get Paid” mentor and the host of the Learn More, Earn More YouTube channel.
I am very excited today, because I have a very special guest, a client of mine in the Broadcast Your Brilliance Boot Camp, coming on live to talk about a way to learn more and earn more and live differently in a time when her particular modality has never been more relevant or interesting or worth talking about.
Let me introduce you to my wonderful guest, Dorothy Mazeau, who’s going to talk to us about home-sharing. Home-sharing! What a great idea! Imagine a [house] filled with friends! That’s what home-sharing is all about.
And if you are someone who’s mid-life or greater and you want to share your home with people that are like-minded and healthy and want to have discretionary income so that you can put more life in your years, I think you’re going to really love what we’re talking about today.
NJ Drawing on more than 20 years of living in shared homes, Dorothy Mazeau founded Golden HomeSharing Connections and its online database Golden Girls Canada in 2019 to help others learn how this way of living can add years to your life and life to your years. Dorothy aspires to smooth the way for empty nesters to find the ideal home-mates and create a successful home-sharing experience and she’s only just begun to make her best impact.
A long-time community advocate, former architect and practicing realtor, Dorothy has blended her skills and talents to create an encore business for herself in a way that makes a profound difference for everyone who crosses her path.
Dorothy, thank you so much for being my guest today. Welcome!
DM Thank you, Nancy, I’m glad to be here!
NJ It’s a thrill to get to talk to you about this! It’s been so fun to learn about home-sharing. I think that, given what we’ve seen with the last 14 or 15 months of people sheltering in place and dealing with social isolation and perhaps some loneliness, the timing perhaps couldn’t be better than it is right now for home-sharing. So what is home-sharing and why does it matter now more than ever, especially for this particular audience?
DM Home-sharing is very simply people coming together to share a home, who happen (perhaps) not to be related to each other and certainly are not involved in a romantic relationship. People have been married and raised families and shared a home with their immediate family, but this is about sharing homes with friends, with people that you know, that you get along with, that you’re compatible with. Certainly that’s a big key; it’s a question of finding people that you really like to share your home with and that’s why it’s a house full of friends.
JN I love that! So what gave you the idea of launching this connection site where people can make those connections?
DM Well, as you mentioned, Nancy, I am in real estate and I have my Senior Real Estate Specialist designation, and in working with my older clients who are looking to downsize, I was seeing that the options available to them were really quite limited. Because as they try to go to a smaller home, they’re right up in competition with all the first-time home buyers and that’s driving those prices up and the larger homes are not selling for that much more, so that there’s not that much equity left over by the time you’ve done that.
And retirement homes are expensive! I know in Canada they are — I’m sure it’s the same in the States — between three to five thousand dollars a month to live in a retirement home. The staff there say the hardest days they have are the days when they have to tell someone, first of all, “I’m sorry you don’t have enough resources to move in,” and then even worse than that is, “I’m sorry you’ve outlived your resources and now, at age 90 or 95, you’re going to have to find someplace else to live.”
So that’s a terrible position to be in! Rental accommodations are hard to come by and rents are really high. For people who are living primarily on their pensions, if they’re spending 30% of their income, it’s really not more than maybe a thousand dollars a month, and it’s hard to find anything available for that.
So I was puzzling over this. And then it dawned on me that I was living the answer! Because I’ve been sharing homes myself for well over 20 years. I’ve found it’s a great way to live. There’s always company around, there’s someone to watch a movie with, there’s someone to bounce ideas off when something’s bothering you, there’s just so many good reasons why it works.
NJ Brilliant! I mean, there you are a real estate professional reasoning through the options that people have and innovating a whole new way that people can enjoy. But it’s not completely new. I think there was a television program that was on for a number of years called “The Golden Girls.” Tell us just a little bit about that.
DM Okay, well, I was curious — because of course people have heard of “The Golden Girls” and often when I’m talking to people about what I’m doing I say, “Did you ever watch the TV show ‘The Golden Girls’?” And of course, many people have. So I say, “Well, this is about living that way!”
And if you go back to the very first episode of the show — it starts a little bit into their time together, but it comes out that it was Blanche who had owned the home that they’re living in with (I guess) her husband, who passed away. She put up an ad in the supermarket looking for house-mates and Dorothy and Rose responded. Then by the end of the first episode, or maybe it was the second episode, Dorothy’s mother Sophia (I think her name was) shows up, having just decided to leave her retirement home because she’s had enough of that! So that’s kind of where it started. Of course it went on from there, and you know, they had their ups and downs and that’s what made the show interesting. It’s living life, but it’s a great way to live!
NJ And boy, we got to voyeur into that great way of living as we watched their dating escapades and everything else they were doing. And it’s so nice to be able to have someone in the home to share a meal with and share your stories from the trenches with and even look after each other if you need some help.
So when is the right time to think about sharing your home and how do we even know if we even want to consider doing that?
DM Well, the right time is certainly while you’re still young and able-bodied. As I mentioned, most of the clients I’m talking about are seniors, but they’re really the younger seniors, even people in their 40s and 50s. It’s not too early to start thinking about it. In fact, I was talking to someone just the other day who’s probably in her 40s and she said she and her husband had decided not to have kids. So many of their friends are in the same situation and they’re realizing, “What are we going to do when we’re older?” So she was really fascinated with this whole idea of sharing housing.
It’s never too soon to start thinking about it. And even a couple could share a home with someone else. You know, maybe you don’t need the money right now, but you can always put it towards your retirement. It’s just a friendly way to live! I mean, where I live right now I’m sharing a home with a couple; I’m a single woman but I’m sharing a home with a couple. And I raised my son in shared housing. So it certainly can happen at any stage of life.
The website that I’ve done is based on people that are looking at where they’re going to “come in for a landing.” I mean, people sometimes share homes when they’re launching their careers, launching their lives before they’re married. In university I shared a home with three other girls and a lot of people have done that, so that’s when you’re launching. And then often people get into their careers or they get married and start raising a family and then there’s that whole period, and then at the other end of it their kids are starting to leave home and life happens. Sadly, many people do lose a spouse at some point either through divorce or they pass away. I think the statistics are that one in three baby boomers will probably be aging without a spouse.
So it’s good to think about these things ahead of time. I know that there are a lot of women — particularly women. It’s no reason it can’t be men. In fact if you go to my website you’ll see the logo is “Golden Girls” with little carrot “and Guys”
because there’s no reason it can’t be guys, but mostly it seems to be women.
But I’ll hear stories of women who are getting together to enjoy a glass of wine with their friends and thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if we just had a place together?” and I say, “It’s so do-able! It really is! This doesn’t have to be a pipe dream!”
And start planning now, not when it becomes an emergency situation. Because it’s very sad when I get phone calls from people who say, “I need to move by the end of the month. Do you know anybody that I can share with?” It’s really not about that, it’s about finding people; it may be your friends, maybe your friends could form a great household. But some people love their friends dearly, but they’d drive them crazy if they tried to live together!
So that’s why the compatibility is such a big piece of it. That’s what the website really promotes. There’s a whole section on “How do you like to live?” because you really have to look at that. And at the workshops I do, that’s a big piece of those, too: to really look at yourself. What’s important to you? What can you not possibly live with? What do you have to have? I mean there’s some obvious ones like smoking and drinking and pets. If you’re allergic to cats you can’t live with cats. But there’s so much more. Just how you like to live? Do you entertain a lot? Do you like it quiet? You know?
And some people say, “Oh I could never share my home because I need my privacy.” Privacy is important and that’s certainly one of the keys to a happy household is make sure that the privacy of each individual is respected. Your space is your own; no one could go into your space without your permission. So it’s there; you can have your privacy if you want it.
NJ I’m sort of thinking about my own life. I remember – well, I’m married happily to my husband of 33 years and we were watching a television show. There was a movie and it was sort of a party scene where people were drinking lots of cocktails, and they were dancing on the ceiling, and they were behaving in such a manner, and I was sort of winking and grinning, and I turned the volume down and I said to my husband, “You see what we’re seeing on the screen here?” He says, “Yes.” I say, “This is my worst nightmare! This is not what I want to do when I go to a party.” And he says, “I know, that’s why we’re married to each other.”
Because it’s there are some things that you like to do — Where you live is so important, especially you know 50 and better. It’s where do you live? Who do you live with? And what do you do? If you are aligned in your values and you have consideration and respect, you can enjoy a wonderful life shared with someone who’s not a member of your family. But you have to get clear about what is important to you before you get yourself into that situation, because otherwise there could be conflict and that could be very uncomfortable. Right?
DM Yes, absolutely! And that’s why we really start with: you have to know what’s important to you. And you can’t budge on those things that are really important. You can’t say, “Well, that’s okay I can [live] with that.”
I know that there was a one woman who was looking for a place to live and she found one through Kijiji — or Craigslist, I guess, in the States more likely — and she went to this place and she liked the people, they seemed great. She noticed that the sink was full of dishes and that was something that she knew wasn’t her style, but she said, “Well, that’s just a little thing, I can handle that.” But she couldn’t! She was there for a few months and it just bothered her more and more and eventually she moved out.
Because, you know, these things are important. Especially when you get to be in your 50s and 60s and you do have things that are important to you. But the thing is, there are other people out there that share those things. So again, there are people that you like and respect and you’re compatible enough that you’re comfortable living together.
NJ Is your website kind of like a dating site in a way?
DM Yes, really that’s how I envisioned it. When I first started thinking about it someone suggested, “Why don’t you interview your senior clients and help them find someone to share with them?” And I realized, well, that really takes an agency. Because you have to follow up, you have to make sure it’s working. There’s liability involved there, and I’m just one person; I don’t really want to get into that. There are agencies out there. I know it’s expensive and it’s labour intensive to run those organizations.
So I thought of something like a dating site where I can teach people — or the dating site part of it is giving enough information so you get a feel for who the other person is before you contact them. It’s not just about the space. When you see “room for rent” what does that tell you?
[On the website] you get into how you like to live. There’s a whole section of up to 500 words about how do you like to live, and up to 500 words as well about what you’re looking for in a place, if you need an office space or you need to have a park nearby, that kind of thing. Or what you’re offering if you’re the homeowner. There are some basics like parking, public transportation, internet access, all those basic questions. Age range, pets, no pets, that kind of thing. But you can really write in a fair amount of detail, and I think the more you write the better it is, because it gives people a better idea of who you are. And the workshops I do really go into that part. We spend a good deal of time —
NJ So let’s break this down a little bit more specifically. Let’s say there are homeowners out there that are empty nesters. They have empty bedrooms and extra square footage and they want to put more life in their years and they might be thinking, “Hmm. if we had housemates that were paying rent and that were aligned with our values, then we would have someone to look after the cat or the dog perhaps when we travel and we would have perhaps hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars of additional discretion where we could travel and put more life in our years.” Is that a fairly accurate characterization?
DM Yes, that’s totally accurate. Certainly the money, the extra income is great — and I do caution people, don’t look at what market rents are, because that’s kind of the problem, the fact that people can’t maybe afford to pay market rents. But if you’ve lived in your home for 40 years, it was built with 40 year old dollars a long time ago and your mortgage may well be paid off. So just having any extra income whether it’s $500, $700 or $ 800 a month can certainly help you. If you want to travel it can go to your travel fund; if you’re still saving your retirement it can go into retirement saving fund. And then, you do have someone else around.
In fact, when I moved to where I am now, the couple had been planning to go away for a month down to Florida and they said, “Can you move in before the end of the month? Because we’re going away and that’d be terrific!” So we worked it out that I could I could move in and be here. So, someone to watch the dog, water the plants you know, rather than having to get a pet sitter in and all that kind of thing.
NJ So for the homeowner that’s the advantage. And for the home sharer they get the opportunity to live in a home and be part of — it’s almost like a family unit, in a way, of friends.
DM Yes, it’s very much like a family unit. I mean it’s different from marriage in that you’re not kind of joined at the hip, if you will, financially. Usually (maybe not so much now as they used to), [married couples] pool their resources and reallyimpact each other with every financial decision whereas in this case, yes, you’re sharing the household expenses and you have a commitment to pay the home owner a certain amount, but you’re still free to travel, you have your own friends etc.
There’s a group of women that I know who bought a home together — which is another way you can do it. You could actually purchase a home together and that’s certainly fine. They said, well, they’re not best friends but they’re friendly and they watch movies together, they do things together, but they still go off and do things with their other friends. Or they travel and visit their grandkids or whatever. And you’ll have to consider, if either party has grandkids, can they come and stay? And you work out all those things. If someone wants to stay overnight how much notice do you give? You know, how’s this going to work?
I offer on the website, and also as part of the workshop, a checklist on creating a home-sharing agreement which covers as many things as I could think of that you want to talk about and put into a written agreement so that you cover as much as you can. I was at a conference a couple of years ago (before ovid), a co-ownership conference and there was a lawyer there and he said look you can be as creative or as paranoid as you want to be about what you put in the agreement.
NJ It reminds me of that show — I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the show on television called “The Big Bang Theory.” It’s a fun show where these two characters are sharing an apartment and Sheldon is the person who had the apartment first. He has this very complex roommate agreement and in the beginning he was running through roommates like crazy until Leonard moved in, and they ended up being roommates for a really long time. But it was a point of contention or a point of huge humour about who could use the bathroom at what particular time and which shelf of the refrigerator belonged to who and this and that and the other thing. But it’s really important!
DM Yes, it is important. And there’re certain things that you would put in the home-sharing agreement which may have more to do with finances and insurance and what happens if something serious happens to one party or the other, that kind of thing. You also might do some household rules. It’s a little bit like having a constitution and bylaws, if you will. One is the basics and then you still would have household rules perhaps which are more flexible. The thing is to talk about these things before anybody signs anything. And, as you say, you don’t want them to be too scary because you’re going to scare away people, right? It’s just practical to think about it, in terms of sharing the refrigerator and so forth.
I mean where I’ve lived over the years we’ve always just eaten together, we shopped for groceries together. We just kept a list; whoever would shop would write things down and then at the end of the month you added it up and divide by three or four, however many people there were. But there are other people who do have, you know, “This is your corner of the fridge and this is my corner of the fridge,” that kind of thing. People ask me, “So you’re sharing a home. What do you do with the kitchen?” I say, “Well we cook in it!” You know, I feel it works best when as much as possible you can be like a family.
Currently I’m living in a home where I do have my own kitchen, but we share the chest freezer and so forth. We’re back and forth. I make something and I’ll bring them some, and they’ll get something and they’ll bring me some, or you know, we order in Chinese or something. We’ll do that together, different things like that. But the easier you can make it, the more it is like — it is your home.
That’s why I really call it “home-sharing” rather than “shared housing.” Because shared housing just is a roof over your head but it’s like a boarding house. It’s like people — just ships passing in the night or whatever. And that’s not my idea at all! Again, you’re not in each other’s pockets, you still have your own lives, but there’s somebody there that knows if you need help or something comes up.
NJ Which, you know, I think would be really important, especially when you get to be 50 and better or 60 and better or 70 and better, even if you’re able-bodied. Sometimes life hits the fan and you’re not well and you need someone to look after you, and if you don’t have children nearby, and you don’t have a spouse, and no extended family nearby, what a blessing this can be for people! Don’t you think?
DM Yes, absolutely! And it’s not that you become a professional caregiver. I know that’s one thing — I had a woman on the site who was in her early 80s, and she did find it hard to find someone on the site, because I’m sure the concern was there, “Yes, you’re fine now, but what’s going to happen down the road?” And that’s one reason I say that it’s better to do these things when you’re a bit younger, so that you bond together.
Before I lived where I’m living now I did share a home with a mother and daughter who — We had been friends for years, but when we first started sharing, the mom had bought this house (she was 72) and she wanted her daughter to come share with her. Her daughter and I were sharing a home with some other friends and she said, “Sure, Mom, I’d love to come with you, but can I invite some of my other housemates to perhaps share with us?” And she said, “Sure, that’d be fine!” And for various reasons it turned out to be me. Then fast forward another 10 years and she was beginning to have health issues. We had personal support workers coming in, we had a lot of help coming in, but because we were already friends who had really bonded, it was fine. I was happy to help out where I could it; it was not an issue.
But again, do this while you’re still able-bodied, so that you do bond together and form a friendship or friendly relationship. You know? You may never be best buddies, but you just will help each other out. It’s like being good neighbours, but you don’t even know your neighbours half the time anymore! Would you know if your neighbor was sick and needed some chicken soup?
NJ Well, I think community is so important! And I think if we’ve learned anything this last 12 or 15 months about what it’s like to be isolated and alone at home — I mean, I think that’s something that a lot of people can identify with, since we’ve been sheltering in place. The whole idea of being able to shelter with friends, and to have a someone to share a meal with, someone to share an experience with, someone to laugh at a movie with, someone to take a genuine interest in what you did today and to be able to reciprocate — I think that’s beautiful! And I think that that’s deeply needed, not just for people that are 50 and better, but for people of every age, especially given what we’ve seen lately.
DM Yes, truly! And I’ve had people of all ages come to the workshops that I do, too. So even though the website at this point is primarily for older adults, I’m happy to help anyone of any age to put together a home share agreement or to come to the workshop and just tell them what’s involved and how to go about it.
I mean, I know there are things like Craigslist and so forth and people look on them to see what’s there. And there again, I’ve heard of a woman who was about 59 years old, and she went on Craigslist and found all these rooms, but all the households were people in their 20s and 30s! So it wasn’t going to be the right fit for her. At that point I hadn’t launched the website yet and I was thinking, “Yeah! Look at people that are our age, you know, the baby boom generation!” You know, we’re all pretty fit and able-bodied and raring to go, but the 20-somethings don’t particularly want to live with us and we don’t want to live with the 20-somethings, necessarily.
NJ Yeah! You know, it’s been said in business “There are riches in niches!” and when you think about how many people there are that fit the description of 50 and better, able-bodied and ready to rock and roll, I think it’s brilliant that you’ve carved out this exciting niche that you want to bridge with your offering. Now a couple of times during our chat today you’ve referenced this workshop. What is the name of the workshop? Tell us a little bit about it and how we can gain access to it if we want to.
DM The title of the workshop is “A Golden Solution to Your Housing Crunch: learn how to create a happy home and save money at the same time.”
I like to chat with people first to find out what their experience is, because some people have shared homes in the past, in university or whatever, and sometimes even now. Then we really get into “how do you like to live?” and we sort of go through the whole questionnaire which is on the website, in terms of: ”Do you like it quiet? Do you like to entertain a lot? Do you travel a lot? Are you home a lot? Do you work from home?” You know, all those kinds of things.
Then we’ll talk a little bit about the cost involved. If you’re a homeowner, you really need to look at what your costs are and whether you need a certain amount to be able to stay in your own home or is it just you’d like the extra money to travel or to do other things? (If you do need a certain amount of money, keep in mind, you might need two or three housemates. And I always do recommend having two or three people in the house. I find it’s a much better dynamic to have three or four people together than just two; I just find that it’s a nice balance.)
And from the home-sharers point of view, look at what’s your total income. Because they say you should not spend ideally more than 30% of your after-tax income on housing. But some people are spending even up to 50% and they’re at risk of — if anything happens you could find yourself out of a home because you can’t afford it anymore. So it’s a question of finding the right balance. So that’s the money part.
Then we talk about how to find people. Certainly that’s the purpose of my website, but there’s no question that there are things like Craigslist, there are supermarket bulletin boards (like the Golden Girls), there’s word of mouth. I found the current house-mates I’m living with by word of mouth. We happen to be in the same exercise class and book club and so forth. I mean there’s a whole great story around how that all happened. As I was launching the business I was trying to find another place to live, so that was an interesting exercise! But it’s worked out fine; that was two and a half years ago.
NJ So it sounds like it’s a very educational session that will help people reason through whether this is for them or not. Is that something that people can attend virtually? Or is it something they do in person? How does that work?
DM Well, it was in person up until the pandemic. But now that it’s started [being online] I’ve had people — I’m in Ontario myself and I’ve had people attend from Alberta! I’ve scheduled it now so it starts at 12:30 ET in the afternoon, so it’s not too early for people out west to join in if they like.
I also do presentations to groups such as Rotary Clubs and church groups or seniors clubs, different organizations. It’s just a 15 or 20 minute PowerPoint that I do, with questions and answers afterwards. I’m happy to do that for anyone! I’m really trying shift the paradigm, to get people thinking about this as really a really viable way to live! It’s not a question of hunkering down and making do, it’s a way of really opening up and living with more freedom, really.
And then, of course, also at the workshop, we go through home-sharing checklist.
I have another one that’s more geared towards home ownership. The women who had purchased the home together that I knew, actually gave me a copy of their legal agreement, which is like gold! I mean, they spent thousands having that put together! I can’t share that, but I used it to back out a list of questions that people need to address if they’re going to share a home, because it’s one thing just have your name on the title, but there’s so many things to think about and we touch on those in the workshop.
It’s only a two or two and a half hour workshop. I’m debating whether I could even do other workshops just focussed strictly on the agreement, if there is a group of people that want to do this. And I’m happy to arrange a workshop, too, if there’s a group of people that would like me to talk to them specifically. I’d be happy to arrange something to do that for them.
NJ Well, you’re clearly an expert in this area and very, very passionate about it. I know that we’re probably sparking some ideas among people who are watching today.
You know, when I’m sitting in the doctor’s office sometimes I’ll pick up a magazine and it’ll ask me, you know, “What kind of a parent are you?” or “What kind of a spouse are you?” Do you have some kind of a quiz that we can take to determine if this is something that we want to take a closer look at? And if so where did we go to get it?
DM Actually I do! If you go to the website: www.goldenhomesharingconnections.ca, right in the middle of the page there’s a button that says: “Find out if home-sharing is right for you! Click here,” and there’s a quiz that you can take that goes through all the advantages of home-sharing.
NJ So let’s say I take this quiz and the result says, “Wow, you’re a perfect candidate for home-sharing!” What would be my ideal next step after discovering that? What is my next step, what should I do then?
DM Well certainly, if you’re that keen there’s a button right there you can click to register for a workshop. Or if you just have more questions and you’d like to talk to me directly, there’s a link there that we can book a one-on-one call.
NJ Oh, very good! Well, my fondest hope is that when people watch this interview they rush to take your quiz and they discover that this is a whole new option.
What I love about what you’re doing is – you know, Craigslist is like: everything and a bag of chips besides! Everything and a bag of chips besides! You’ve carved out a very specific audience of people that would have interest in this and want to save time, effort and money getting to a place of connection with the right audience, people to potentially connect with, so that they can create these perfect matches.
So I just want to wish you every success as you grow this thing. Because I think with the baby boomers growing older and the economy giving some people a run for the money, some more than others, I think you could potentially be sitting on a very powerful service that could bring gold all the way around and that would be my wish for you.
DM Thank you. I certainly hope so! Because I just know it’s such a great way to live and it could be — as I think we talked about, this could be the “Airbnb” of affordable housing! You know, it’s just grassroots, it’s people doing things themselves, not waiting for the government to figure it out for them.
NJ Oh, my goodness that was great! So where’s that website one more time to go to get that quiz?
NJ Very, very good! I will be sure to put that in the show notes. I’m hoping that hundreds or thousands of people take the quiz and discover that home-sharing is a brand new idea that they can’t wait to make their new lifestyle. And I hope that they are bellying up to the bar to learn from Dorothy Mazeau, who is clearly the expert in this area.
Dorothy, thank you so much for being my guest on the “Learn More to Earn More” show. I think we’re going to learn more, earn more, and live more, based on what it is that you shared today. So thank you so much!
DM Well, thank you, Nancy. It’s been a pleasure!
NJ All right, I’ll see you for the next episode! Thanks so much!