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Golden Girls' Secret To Retirement

For best friends Dot Howard and Callie Camp, it's a match made in heaven.

"She said, 'I can't afford to do this by myself. Do you want to go in?' And I said, 'I thought you'd never ask,'" says Camp.

Camp, a 64-year-old retired teacher, and Howard, a 67-year-old retired chemical plant worker, knew retirement on their own, and on fixed incomes, wouldn't offer much.

"Living alone, divorced, gets lonely sometimes," says Howard.

So they sold their homes, combined their resources and built their dream home, which they call Tea Time.

"This is just an ideal way to spend the rest of your years," says Camp.

There's room for hobbies, like stained glass and weaving, a kitchen big enough for too many cooks and, most importantly, their own spaces.

"This is my room and my porch," says Howard. "We call it our nest."

"This is my room," says Camp. "We got to decorate them however we like.

"I made my own quilt. It leads out to the outside. We have our own porches."

It's a way of life upon which friends Mary Springer, Carolyn Hill and Beverly Peress plan to model their retirements.

Springer, 45, and Hill, 46, are both single. Peress, 61, is widowed and six months from retirement.

"I thought I would be with my husband, and maybe we would retire together, perhaps move to Florida," says Peress. "I never envisioned living in a big house with other women."

"It just kind of came up," says Springer. "What are we going to do when we're retiring? What are our options?"

As baby boomers look toward an uncertain retirement, these women are asking, "Why do it alone?"

"It's something I've always talked about with my girlfriends from college," says Hill. "We would end up in a big house together and live together through our golden years."

Experts also say women connect more closely with friends.

"I am sure that we will take care of each other in our old age," says Camp.

Asked if men could do this, Howard says, "I imagine there are men who could make it work. I don't know any."

And for those who are wondering, Camp says her relationship, or her partnership, with Howard has been misunderstood.

"Yep, that has happened," she says. "We tell them we're too old."

It has worked out so well for Howard and Camp that they have no plans to leave Tea Time.

Camp jokes about how the only way she's leaving here is in a box – a pine box.

And every afternoon the celebrate another day in paradise.