OWN THE GREY

Golden Girls Living

March 01, 2021 Debra Jones RM with Dorothy Mazeau Episode 9
OWN THE GREY
Golden Girls Living
Show Notes Transcript

Whether you're thinking about ageing in place, or you need to sell your home, downsize, and find somewhere to rent, OR you're helping a parent to decide - you'll be interested in listening to this episode.

Website: Golden Girls Canada

Dorothy Mazeau, B. Arch. SRES - Senior Real Estate Specialist Sales Representative 
Phone: 905 857 0651 
Email: [email protected]



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00:00 Debra Jones
Hi it's Debra Jones - podcast host of Own The Gray

Whether you're thinking about ageing in place or you need to sell your home and find somewhere to rent or you're helping a parent to decide you'll be interested in listening to this episode

00:40 
Do you remember the golden girls the tv sitcom of the 80s with Bea Arthur and Betty White who just celebrated her 100th birthday by the way

00:51 
They were four seniors sharing a house, sharing their dreams and a whole lot of cheesecake and maybe you knew this but they came to be living together because Blanche posted an ad on a grocery store bulletin board for a room she wanted to rent out

01:12 
and Rose AND Dorothy answered it, and the rest is history or herstory

01:20 
Well, did you know that there's an easier way for a homeowner and a housemate to find each other it's through an online database appropriately called Golden Girls Canada? The website is a solution to a need identified by Dorothy Mazeau - a realtor who specializes in helping older adults find the perfect living situation

01:47 
and today she's joining me to tell us about how it works. Welcome, Dorothy!

01:54 Dorothy Mazeau
Thank you, Debra, I'm glad to be here

01:56 Debra Jones
So I read on your website an article about 5 million spare bedrooms that's how many spare rooms there are in Ontario alone

02:05
and you go on to demonstrate just how much that storage room is costing you. Can you share that with us?

02:13 Dorothy Mazeau

Sure! Happy to. uh yeah just to give you an example is: supposing you have even if you have one spare room in your house that perhaps your son or daughter used to live in and now they've they've moved on

02:24

um well if just to give it a simple number - supposing your house is 2 000 square feet and supposing your monthly cost for mortgage taxes utilities all the costs surrounding owning a house are about two thousand dollars that would work out to about a dollar per square foot of your house

02:42

and if that's the bedroom where your son or daughter used to live uh is say it's 10 by 12 feet that's 120 square feet that is 120 a month that you're paying for that space

02:55 Debra Jones

Not a very cost-effective way of storing things.

02:59 Dorothy Mazeau
No. Consider if you have two or three spare bedrooms I mean maybe it has your kids stuff in it or maybe you've used it to store the extra stuff that you have that you don't know what to do with but it's storage space basically and that's a lot to be spending for storage space

03:10 Debra Jones

It is! And so you being a senior real estate specialist what are you seeing in today's market?

03:20 Dorothy Mazeau

Well when I'm working with my senior clients who want to downsize and I mean seniors but anyone really over 40 or 50 whenever they feel like it's time to make a change really, as soon as they try to downsize they're really up against the first time buyer market because they're both looking for the same product a smaller home that's an affordable range

03:40

so by the time they find something they could live in it probably is not that much difference between what they can sell their house for which was their often their biggest investment so if you're thinking well I'll downsize and have all this money left over to support me as I age in place then uh it's not going to be that much money

03:56

and the alternative one alternative many people look at is the retirement homes that cost between three thousand to five thousand plus a month and if you need additional care it goes up from there

04:08

and a lot of people are finding uh that number one they may not have the resources they need to move in there once they've talked to the staff at the facility and number two they may outlive their income

04:18

and say they reach age 95 and suddenly they've used up their resources and they're told by the staff "I'm sorry you've got to find another place to live you can't stay here,"

04:26

and that's such a predicament to be in by the time you reach an age when you really need to be settled and otherwise the rental accommodations

04:33

are pretty hard to come by and uh yeah so it's not easy and I realized when i was considering this that i was living the solution because i have been living in shared homes myself for more than 20 years and i've enjoyed it it's a great way to live

04:48 Debra Jones

Wow! So it's tried and tested!

04:53 Dorothy Mazeau

Indeed. It hasn't all been perfect but i've learned along the way and i'm pretty well housebroken now

04:59 Debra Jones

well there are different kinds of sharing out there aren't there 
there's co-housing there's co-ownership there's house sharing what's the difference

05:10 Dorothy Mazeau

well,  they are all different ways of sharing.

05:13

Co-housing was brought to North America around the 1970s from Denmark and that was that model is basically developing a community it's the people that want to live their get together and become really developers of their own community

05:24

and they decide what it's going to look like and what's going to be included but it is primarily individual residences with extensive shared common facilities which often include a commercial kitchen or a common kitchen

05:36

but each one has their own kitchen as well so they can have as much community or as much privacy as they want and it's really a development project

05:43

it's it's costly it takes a long time people need a lot of patience and it really tests the bounds of you relationship with your people you're working with it can work a lot more on the west coast than in ontario although recently there are some in ontario that are trying again and i certainly wish them well

05:59

but co-ownership, that and the other forms of home sharing are a single house which can be co-owned by the people that want to live there as is the case with the four women in port perry who bought a home together back a few a number of years ago, who call themselves the golden girls of port perry and they each sold their own house whatever they sold it for pooled their resources and bought it was a century home which they renovated and added to, to accommodate the four of them so they each have their own generous bed sitting room with washroom and the shared kitchen. They actually have two dishwashers in their kitchen because one of their agreements was they didn't want any dirty dishes left out anytime so one is for the dirty dishes and one is the clean dishes but they decided that amongst themselves. And as it happens i think their monthly cost including their mortgage i'm not sure if they have a mortgage but their their taxes, insurance, even their groceries, even their wine I think it comes to about uh fifteen hundred dollars each a month so it's it's a phenomenally affordable way to live and they are really enjoying their time together

07:06

so that's co-ownership and they very generously shared with me the uh ownership agreement which their their lawyer had drafted for them and i can't share that but i used it to back out the list of questions that people need to ask in order to create a co-ownership agreement that will work for their situation which they then would take to a lawyer and have a lawyer review it of course

07:25

but i can get them started on it and then there is home sharing the way my website works which is one person owns the home and they would like to stay there uh perhaps they're on their own they love their neighborhood there's so much they love about where they are um and it's a lot to manage sometimes for people whether it's just doing the day-to-day maintenance or expensive repairs or anything like that and there are so many people and that are looking for an affordable place to live and as yes you can earn extra income from renting out your spare rooms and having the companionship that goes with that

08:00

but it's also a benefit to the people who are looking because an average senior is earning somewhere between $25 000 and $30 000 a year and they say you shouldn't spend more than 30% of your after tax income on housing and that would only be about $700 a month which is you cannot find anything to rent for that little that's anywhere near decent and even if you spend half your income it's still, you know, a thousand or $1200 and it's hard to find anything more than a basic bachelor apartment for that.

08:30

yeah so it's a benefit for both sides and it is really more about just the financial benefits, it's the companionship benefits and that's why I sometimes refer to my website is almost like a dating site because so much of it is about the relationship it's not just about finding a room to live in it's a place where you'll feel comfortable and where you can both feel at home.

08:50

or even really i think three or four people is ideal because then there's always a nice dynamic of you know people can share with each other in different ways

08:59 Debra Jones

yeah and so the way you've set it up so a bit like a dating app but there's lots of questions for people to answer so that you can really get a sense of sharing who you are and what your expectations are and also of sharing what you expect from a housemate what kinds of questions do you ask?

09:20 Dorothy Mazeau

well there's the basic ones which are really check marks which is uh do you allow alcohol in your home, this is for the homeowner listing uh what about smoking, pets do you have pets will you welcome pets, and things like are you near public transportation some people need that, do you have parking some people need that, and internet a lot of people especially if they're still working they may need good internet service

09:42

some people would prefer to live in the country, so if you're a rural or suburban or urban location, but those are the easy ones to just check off, but also there's up to 500 words where you can write about what you're like how you like to live, your lifestyle and also up to 500 words about your home and what you're sharing or on the other side what you're looking for and to support that there is on the website a number of member resources

10:06

one of them is a questionnaire called 'How do you like to live?' and on that it covers everything from whether do you like to entertain a lot, do you want your home to be a refuge from the storm and very kept quiet, do you have the tv on all the time or do you like to have it silenced, Do you travel a lot, are you away a lot, are you home a lot

10:26

and how do you use the kitchen and if you have a kitchen that you're sharing, do you want to share your meals with people or do you want to totally keep it separate. and all of these things are perfectly wonderful options for different people but it's a question of finding people that share that

10:39

and truly with dating sites people actually get married that meet on dating sites so there's no reason you can't find a perfectly wonderful compatible person to share your home with you

10:47 Debra Jones

yeah i think the key is in those questions i mean when you're just sharing some of those we don't usually think about them until we have to find an answer and and yeah the the way you live your life you you certainly don't want someone who's living circumstances are totally opposite to yours so i could see the validity of being able to go through a database and really see what you're getting.

11:12 Dorothy Mazeau

and that's again just the first step because then you can email someone through the website and then you compare there's always what you have to have and what you can't possibly live with, and you have to make sure you're both clear on that before you even take the next step

11:25

and then eventually you can talk and have conversations you know there's so much involved and especially during covid, you might not want to be visiting people's houses but you can do so much just on zoom or getting to know people and then when you can meet face to face you're already halfway there.

11:40 Debra Jones

yeah so covid, it's really a time for people to feel isolated and and maybe having some companionship would ease that burden a little bit do you find that that's a big deal for people?

11:54 Dorothy Mazeau

oh absolutely i mean people that are living alone are so used to being able to go out in the community to play bridge or to go golfing or to do whatever people do with their friends and suddenly here you are just by yourself in your home, and yes you can zoom and you can do phone calls but it's just not the same.

12:10

i'm so grateful that i live in a home with two other people. It's a couple who are in their early 80s very healthy able-bodied, they beat me to the shoveling today i didn't even get to go out and help the shoveling.

12:20

but they're there and you know somebody knows you're home you know supposing something did happen to me i know there's somebody that would realize it, you know.

12:27

that is just to say that's the safety part of it too that's an important aspect. It's just a natural simple way to be, you know i can shout upstairs and say good morning and so forth.

12:36 Debra Jones

Living together in harmony with the people that you're living with. The other thing to think about is you know as we get older and when we retire and then the government does give a little bit of money but by doing something like this and helping yourself you're not waiting to be helped are you, it's more of a, you know, jump in and direct your own life kind of situation wouldn't you say?

13:01 Dorothy Mazeau

absolutely, absolutely yeah that i think of that same article what i read about the five million spare bedrooms i wrote about it but of course i discovered that myself in another article and someone pointed out that 5 million spare bedrooms is equal to about 24 years worth of affordable housing construction. So if we're waiting for the government to build the housing for us you know we may be long gone by the time it's actually there, not to mention the cost to the government and not to mention the impact on the environment, which is another advantage to sharing a home because you have a smaller footprint on the earth if that's something that's important to you.

13:35 Debra Jones

mm-hmm yeah i love that idea, and so when do you find that people start thinking about this and is that the right time?

13:45 DorothyMazeau
well i think there's another there's another blog on my website about are you riding the wave or are you wiping out and i have had calls from women in particular who say oh this would be perfect for my mother. But really if she is asking on behalf of her mother, is her mother still able-bodied and self-directed and able to make her own decisions or does she need help at this point?

14:06

and there are agencies which will match someone that needs help with a younger person to come in and perhaps lower rent help around the house but that's not a peer-to-peer relationship that's someone that needs help and probably that person will change over time

14:19

whereas you know i'm looking more at peer matching and so i really encourage people like the woman who asked about her mother i would say well what about you, you know. Maybe she's married with a partner, maybe she's not she could be 55 her mother's 75 you know.

14:32

but it's start early.  i know women that you know sit around have a glass of wine with their friends and say wouldn't it be great if we had a house together and it's like so what's stopping you?

14:42 Debra Jones

yeah, yeah good i hear that a lot too 

14:45 Dorothy Mazeau

oh it is not impossible especially if you own a house your mortgage is either paid off or very low you have equity in your home that you could invest if you want to purchase together

14:54

um and as a realtor again i'm happy to do that with people but if you want to stay where you are maybe you have friends that could sell their house and either rent from you or you could perhaps sell them a share in your home. there's different ways you can work that with a lawyer but yeah don't wait you know.

15:12

I've been sharing home since my son was small

15:14

and when he went through his adolescence

15:16

uh with three adult women in the house

15:19

and when i met his fiancee's father uh

15:21

he said to me your son's the best thing

15:23

that ever happened to my daughter

15:25

so it can't hurt him too much

15:28

it's it's going back to that um you know

15:30

it takes a community to

15:32

to rear a child right to when when you

15:35

get together and

15:37

your child has the best of of all the

15:39

advice from

15:40

not just his mother and and often with

15:43

children we don't want to listen to our

15:45

parents

15:45

but yeah and you know obviously

15:49

we have lived with other families with

15:50

children as well and that's a

15:53

dynamic you have to be careful with

15:54

because you have to have similar ideas

15:55

about

15:56

child rearing and so forth um which can

15:58

still work it could still work

16:00

but uh you just have to be aware of that

16:02

and be willing to to work with that

16:03

whole thing

16:05

so as as a real estate agent i mean

16:07

you're you've got the bird's eye view of

16:10

this whole

16:11

scenario you get to hear people's

16:13

concerns and what they need and

16:16

and i presume that's why you started

16:18

golden girls

16:20

canada so that you could fill a need

16:23

absolutely yeah yeah because i was

16:25

puzzling over this whole situation

16:27

and that's what i say as i say i

16:29

realized i was i was living the answer

16:31

to it this is a good answer and not for

16:32

everybody

16:33

some people are just folks that just

16:35

want to live by themselves or

16:36

well we're all different aren't we

16:38

everybody is different and there are

16:40

these various options and this is this

16:42

is one which i think is is really a good

16:43

one

16:44

and so when somebody goes to the website

16:47

um i i took a look at it myself you can

16:50

actually

16:51

uh take a little look and see if there's

16:54

uh

16:54

anybody in your area and i know the

16:56

database is growing it's

16:58

it's a fairly new database but i

17:01

i wonder what what are the benefits of

17:03

the membership

17:04

and what is the membership yeah well

17:07

most people who join are either people

17:09

with homes that they would like to share

17:11

or people that are looking and what you

17:13

see in the little thumbnails which you

17:15

were able to look at is

17:16

what area this person is in and how much

17:19

they are looking to charge for rent or

17:20

how much they are able to pay for rent

17:22

and then but in order to actually access

17:25

those people and contact them you would

17:26

need to become a member

17:28

and once you become a member you have

17:29

access to their full profile with their

17:31

full 500 word description if it's that

17:33

much

17:34

about about them who they are and an

17:37

equal amount really about their home

17:39

or what they're looking for um also

17:42

you have access to the number of

17:43

resources including the the checklist

17:45

that i mentioned

17:46

about how do you like to live and

17:48

information what to do when someone

17:50

responds about how to go through the

17:51

process of

17:52

you know of interviewing them and doing

17:54

reference checks and that kind of thing

17:57

there is an organization which you can

17:59

access through my site that

18:00

that does background checks for people

18:02

if you want and that's

18:04

it's free for the homeowner i think uh

18:05

for a police check it's 25

18:07

for the person who wants to come in but

18:09

think so you you pl you want to be wise

18:10

you want to be safe

18:12

and there's also the checklist both for

18:14

a home share agreement and also for a

18:16

co-ownership agreement

18:17

which you can use to help draft your own

18:20

document

18:20

but again i can help with that if people

18:22

wish to retain me to do that

18:24

or or they could go to their lawyer and

18:26

in any case eventually they should take

18:28

something to their lawyer but

18:29

um the further along you can get before

18:31

you take it to the lawyer the less it's

18:33

going to be

18:33

cost for the lawyer to review it for you

18:35

so

18:36

yeah and i've also launched a forum now

18:38

so people who are members can

18:40

go on the forum and chat with each other

18:42

but that's a brand new so it hasn't

18:43

really taken off yet

18:44

and i'd love i'm thinking of ways to

18:46

expand it to make it even more

18:47

beneficial so

18:49

i'm open for ideas if people have them

18:51

because i whether i might start doing

18:52

meetups and have people

18:54

invite members to come to a meet up and

18:55

meet each other you know so

18:57

so it's really community oriented yeah i

19:00

think that's great so

19:02

what is your vision for golden girls

19:04

canada

19:05

yeah well i guess i kind of touched on

19:07

it here i'm looking for ways that it can

19:09

be a real resource for people that want

19:11

to live

19:12

in community and i certainly i i'm

19:14

connected with all the different ways of

19:16

doing this like the

19:16

housing association and so forth i can

19:19

help people

19:20

that that way and again the the database

19:23

is one part of the site but the rest of

19:25

it with the blogs and so forth

19:27

but just to become a resource for

19:29

community living for for people sharing

19:30

together

19:31

and it's sort of ironic i realize they

19:33

say community living and you

19:34

think of these group homes like people

19:37

with special needs that live in the

19:38

group homers and

19:39

the community's all of us you know we

19:41

all need community in our lives

19:43

yeah more so than ever these days yeah

19:45

absolutely

19:46

yeah and so you've got some

19:49

some great ideas that are on your

19:51

website but you also do

19:53

some ongoing workshops and webinars and

19:55

things like that and

19:56

and you do have one coming up on march

19:58

13th

20:00

uh if if somebody is interested and i

20:02

guess they go to your website to sign up

20:04

is that right

20:05

yeah that's right it's called a golden

20:06

solution to your housing crunch

20:09

and it's really about how to do home

20:12

sharing and i do these at these

20:13

workshops once a month actually on the

20:16

second saturday

20:17

of every month at this point i usually

20:18

have about three months at a time posted

20:20

on the website so you can you can choose

20:22

one

20:23

but uh yeah it costs about fifty dollars

20:25

for the webinar and it's a good

20:27

well depending how many people come it

20:28

can be two or three hours

20:30

i had as many as seven or eight people

20:32

sometimes i do it one-on-one and that's

20:33

usually shorter but so

20:34

just a wonderful conversation and a lot

20:37

of the resources that are available

20:38

to members are also available through

20:40

the through the workshops

20:42

and then also i do presentations for

20:46

community groups

20:47

for rotary clubs they're university

20:50

women's clubs or i'm doing one for the

20:51

town of newmarket

20:53

uh which that is for free it's like a 15

20:55

or 20 minute powerpoint presentation

20:57

which leaves about another 40 minutes

20:58

for questions and discussions and so

21:00

forth and that's just to

21:01

spread the word about the idea because

21:03

it is a paradigm shift for people to

21:05

begin to think about living this way

21:07

and you know don't put it off this isn't

21:08

something you need to wait until you're

21:10

in a dire situation because by then

21:12

you you're not you can't be as careful

21:14

about who you're choosing to live with

21:15

because you're making a decision in a

21:16

rush and that's just not what this is

21:18

about

21:20

well i i think that it's a phenomenal

21:22

idea it's certainly timely

21:25

you're right i've heard a lot of girls

21:27

getting together and saying wouldn't

21:29

this be fun if we were

21:30

living together and i've even imagined

21:32

it myself and

21:33

you know but but you know where do we

21:35

start and i guess

21:36

going to your website is where where you

21:38

start and and to ask

21:40

questions and and get a feel for it as

21:43

you said it's not for everyone

21:45

but if it is for you then you've got a

21:48

lot of

21:48

uh experience in helping people find the

21:52

perfect solution i would think

21:54

yeah and the workshop i i will stress

21:56

too is not just for the homeowners and

21:58

the people looking is also for people

22:00

that want to

22:00

co-purchase together too it's good a

22:02

good resource for them like if you have

22:04

a group of friends already that want to

22:05

do this i'd be happy to even

22:07

uh register to have a workshop just for

22:09

the group of you

22:10

to to help you go through the process

22:12

don't think about because one thing i do

22:13

remind people is you may love your

22:15

friends dearly and and

22:16

respect them but your lifestyles might

22:18

be different enough that you drive

22:19

yourself each other crazy you're trying

22:20

to live together

22:22

so it's good to find that out before you

22:24

go too far

22:25

before you've actually jumped yes

22:28

for sure if people need to get in touch

22:30

with you they'll go to the website they

22:32

there's a way to contact you on your

22:34

website and that's goldengirlscanada.ca

22:38

and and i presume that they can contact

22:40

you if they've got any questions as well

22:42

absolutely happy to talk i always love

22:44

to talk about this

22:45

wonderful well thanks for joining us

22:47

dorothy i really appreciate it

22:50

it's my pleasure thank you for having me

22:55

thanks so much for listening if you like

22:57

what you've heard

22:58

and want to hear more please subscribe

23:01

leave a comment

23:02

and a rating and i promise to send

23:05

good vibes your way

23:11

[Music]