Empty Nesting and Reluctant to Downsize? Unique Matching Site Offers a Lifeline

Andrea Frankenthal
4 min readApr 28, 2023
Gaynor lives with Christy who offers practical help as she recovers from surgery

Thanks to a period of unprecedented wealth, many in the babyboomer generation (aged 59–77) were able to afford sizeable houses. However, retirement in the cost of living crisis can make these homes practically and financially difficult to maintain, especially if you live alone. Empty nesters face enormous pressure to downsize, but a new initiative connecting homesharers across the generations offers a way to alleviate this struggle. Hapipod.com is the only homeshare matching site enabling householders to find practical help, company and a small income by offering a room at reduced rate in exchange for a lodger’s time. Crucially, this unlocks affordable rooms for some of the millions of young adults unable to pay market rents.

‘Pod pairing’, as it is termed, is ‘au pairing for a new generation’, and it serves contemporary lifestyle needs. It is zeitgeist in a society where generation gaps are diminishing as people age more healthily and actively, whereas the housing, loneliness and cost of living crises are at critical levels.

The site opens up access to helpful, practical homeshares for a broad cross-section of independent householders and lodgers. It is not aimed at vulnerable seniors already catered for by homeshare agencies.

Research by Stannah has shown that more than 42% of over 55’s in the UK wish to stay in their current homes. Many are emotionally tied to them through lasting memories of life and loss, and leaving them can be traumatic. Moreover there is a historic under-supply of purpose-built retirement housing, and not enough properties to downsize to. Of the quarter of over 55s who have already downsized, more than 59% regret it!

Photo by Peter Boccia on Unsplash

In reality, downsizing from large, family homes is not going to help the 10% of young families in Britain living in overcrowded accommodation due to lack of housing stock. Unfortunately, a third of millennials (aged 27–42) may never be able to own their own homes, figures suggest, and this is only likely to worsen with the growing gap between house prices and wages.

Householders who want to help challenge the housing crisis can do so without giving up a beloved home. Arguably, they can do more good by offering a spare room at an affordable rate to a lodger on restricted income.

There are 3.4 million young adults (aged 20–34) who cannot afford market rents. Staying with their parents curtails their independence and self-determination. If they can barter some of their time for reduced room rates, it gives them a degree of control over their lives, and offers them a comfortable way out. Most importantly, it creates a contemporary living solution that benefits both the lodgers and their hosts.

Hapipod.com provides the place for them to meet. Working similarly to a dating site, it enables members to search for compatible matches based on shared backgrounds and interests, regardless of age. Once they make a successful match, the parties directly negotiate an exchange of 8 hours a week of a lodger’s time for pre-agreed activities (equating to roughly £400 per month at minimum wage) in return for room rates between £250-£350 per month.

Allan lives with Grace who helps with gardening and house-sits when he travels

As such, householders can get help with things like IT, dog-walking, gardening, house-sitting or a little light housework, or company to share their interests with, such as playing tennis or learning a language. They also make a small income which will be under the £7,500 tax threshold of the ‘Rent a Room Scheme’. Meanwhile, rather than getting paid for their time, lodgers save hundreds of pounds a month on market rents, and gain from the wisdom of a more experienced host. (All members must pass a safeguarding ID check, and buy a timed package to connect.)

As a low-fee, community-focused initiaitve, Hapipod.com helps to create a more connected society and provides a combined solution for many to the problems of housing, loneliness and the cost of living.

Andrea Frankenthal is the founder of Hapipod.com. Visit the website for more information and to see short films of successful homeshares.

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Andrea Frankenthal

Founder of Hapipod Inspired Homeshare, Filmmaker, Social Observer, Casual Contrarian