Finding a Roommate When You’re in Your 60s


“I have a master’s in fine arts, so I love to go to the museums, ballets,” she said. “If I’d have stayed in Georgia, the only question would have been where to eat every night and I couldn’t take that.”

Ms. Tall, a frequent museumgoer who also draws and paints — she has been taking figurative art classes at Spring Studio in SoHo for the past 25 years — quickly sensed that she had found a kindred spirit in Ms. Halter, who moved in last October.

“Loretta loves culture and I saw her as a very responsible person,” Ms. Tall said. “I was drawn to her positive nature and had great respect for the fact that she’d picked herself up from Georgia and came to New York. That takes a lot of courage.”

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A home-sharing program for older renters matched the two women.

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Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Ms. Halter’s papillon dog, Aes, sealed the deal. “I fell in love with Aes immediately,” Ms. Tall said. “He was the pièce de résistance!”

Fortunately, Ms. Tall’s cat, Noah, who had never met a dog before, didn’t object.

“I’ve got to brag on her,” Ms. Halter interjected. “She is the perfect hostess.”

The home-sharing program, which requires only one participant in a match to be 60 or older, made sense for both women.

“It’s not easy to find a roommate,” Ms. Tall said. “Home Share will follow up; they call after and make sure the match is going well. You feel that they know what they’re doing.”

As the one on the hunt for a furnished room, Ms. Halter said searching on Craigslist felt “treacherous.” She said she would hear things like: “There are 30 other people who also want the room.” Or sometimes more disquieting: “We were looking for someone younger.”

The women touch base each day to coordinate schedules and avoid any potential bathroom conflicts. Sometimes, they’ll attend a movie or a Broadway show together — they recently saw “Chicago” — and they both love going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Drop-in Drawing sessions. But they are also careful to give one another space.

It is, Ms. Tall reflected, “a very adult situation.”

“We’re both independent,” she said. “We live together, but also separately, as individuals.”

Name: Beverly Tall and Loretta Halter

Ages: 65 and 66. Rent: A little over $1,000 a month, plus utilities. Occupation: Both retired. Ms. Tall did administrative and reception work. Ms. Halter worked in store management for a national grocery chain in Georgia. How Ms. Tall found the apartment: She was living in a market-rate studio on the Upper West Side when the landlord decided to renovate the building. “I looked at them and said, ‘I don’t know where to go,’” Ms. Tall said. “I think they saw the fear in my eyes. The landlord said, ‘We have another apartment further uptown.’ I’d never been above 96th Street!” What she thought when she saw the apartment: “I was very grateful,” she said. “I’d always lived in studios before. I’d never had an apartment with space in it.” Moving to Manhattan: Ms. Tall, who grew up in Queens, relocated in her 20s. Ms. Halter arrived five years ago from Georgia, leaving behind a three-bedroom house on a six-acre lot with two ponds. “I sold everything,” she said, “or gave it to my family and friends. I said, ‘Here — pretend like I died.’” The stairs: Can be a challenge. “But we take it at our own pace,” Ms. Tall said.

The apartment is Ms. Halter’s fourth Home Share. Most recently, she lived in Midwood, Brooklyn, but had to leave when her hostess broke her hip and needed Ms. Halter’s room for a live-in health aide.

The change of boroughs has proved a huge boon for a culture lover like Ms. Halter. In Midwood, she would have to allow up to three hours for a trip to the Metropolitan Opera, which involved two buses and a subway. After the performance, she sometimes would not get home until around 2 a.m., especially if she had waited at the stage door to get her program signed. And she almost always did, especially if Matthew Polenzani was performing.

“Matthew Polenzani is my favorite tenor — someone of his caliber only comes along every few hundred years,” Ms. Halter gushed. “I’m a bit star-struck. When you meet someone like that, knowing what they’ve accomplished. ”

While her host in Midwood was understanding about the occasional late opera nights, Ms. Halter said she felt that it was disruptive to the household.

“They were kind about it, but I could tell it was hard on them,” she said. “I don’t like to go against the desires of the house. Beverly though, she takes it like a trooper.”

Ms. Tall laughed, saying, “She comes home and I’m like, ‘Hi! How was it?’”

“She’ll be up painting or watching a program on PBS,” Ms. Halter said.

“It’s wonderful that we can share a cultural event,” Ms. Tall said. “We’ll talk about it a little bit, and then we’ll each go into our own room.”

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