NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- With the cost of living on the rise and showing no sign of slowing down, total strangers desperate to save money are moving in together.
As CBS 2's Dana Tyler reported Tuesday, older adults and even families are using this method to pool their resources. And the new communities are redefining the modern family.
Two million Americans over the age of 30 now live with a housemate or roommate, and shared households make up 18 percent of U.S. households – a 17 percent increase since 2007.
One group of women sold their homes and bought a house together in Mount Lebanon, Pa., after they all got divorced.
"It made amazing economic sense," said one of the women, Jean McQuillin.
McQuillin, Louise Machinist and Karen Bush call their home a "cooperative household." Each woman has her own bedroom and bathroom, and they share the common areas of the house, chores and expenses.
"We are all really busy," Machinist said. "We're hardly ever all here at the same time."
The women entertain and socialize together, and they even share a pet cat. House rules state how long visitors can stay, and what happens if one of them wants to move out.
"You have to share values in order to make things work," Bush said.
In some co-housing communities, families buy smaller homes built around a common building that the entire community shares. Some include communal kitchens and recreation space.
There are more than 100 of the special developments across the nation. Some co-housing operations share housework and childcare duties.
"Taking the stress off of parents in having to do everything for their kids and not sharing the load is really to me the heart of the American dream," said Rebecca Lane of the Co-Housing Association of the United States.
Experts said it is important to draw up an agreement. It should detail how expenses and chores will be shared, and set boundaries that spell out what you can and can't live without.
You should also check references of potential housemates and ask why the person wants to move in, experts said.
"You need to know that people are solid about paying, that they're going to be a reasonable person to be around," said shared housing expert Annamarie Pluhar.
And experts added that communication and compromise are the key to success.
"You can make something wonderful happen if you can find the right people to do it with," Machinist said.
If you are considering someone as a housemate, experts suggest running a credit or even criminal background check on that person.
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