Boomers And The Sharing Economy

The term “sharing economy” has become a buzzword over the last few years, as services like Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Task Rabbit and others have become popular with people of all ages. All of these businesses share a common theme; they connect people directly to services by disrupting an industry that is already in place.

For example, Uber and Lyft cut out the task of hailing a taxi by bringing the ride right to you, with the added bonus of a rating system. Airbnb connects users to great lodging options at cheaper prices than hotels, while Task Rabbit helps folks find individuals who are willing to do odd jobs that they themselves can’t or won’t do. When you think about the average age of a user of these services, you probably envision a Millennial, and you’d certainly be right. But, increasingly, Boomers and seniors are turning to these apps, using them in ingenious ways that help improve their lives.

Looking at Uber and Lyft, we find transportation apps shifting the paradigms in multiple ways. The most obvious use of these services is for seniors who are unable to drive. It enables them to easily summon a car and know how much it’s going to cost. Lyft has taken a particular interest in the older adult market, dedicating a division to working with retirement communities to provide transportation services to and from appointments. Communities are able to manage the app from a special login, where they help residents summon vehicles and have the service charged to the resident or the organization, or split among multiple parties. It has also enabled senior living providers to help with transportation for employees in hard-to-fill roles that don’t have reliable means of getting to and from work. 



On the other side of this coin are the Boomers and seniors who have signed up to participate as providers of rides. As people retire, they often have the desire to work but want to do it at their own pace and on their terms. Uber and Lyft provide exactly that, letting drivers work when they want to, without worrying about schedules, calling off or planning around special events. Driving like this can provide some quick and easy income for retired people that still want a flexible lifestyle!

Airbnb has been vilified in many cities for destroying the housing market and enabling renters to illegally sublet their apartments with ease. But, for homeowners in high-traffic areas, the service provides a way to make money from spare bedrooms or to rent out a home while on vacation. For seniors looking to downsize, it may make more sense for them to rent out their home on Airbnb instead of selling it — especially if the home is paid off. Do the math for yourself! If you can rent your home for $100 a night for 10 nights a month, you’ve made $1,000, which can help pay rent on an apartment or cover a part of the service fee at a community. One estimate said that homeowners in the Los Angeles area can make the same amount of money by renting their home for 83 nights a year as one would make on a full-year lease agreement. While there are many considerations to this process, it could prove lucrative for Boomers and seniors who are homeowners.

Last on our list was Task Rabbit, which is probably the least well-known of the modern shared-economy apps. The service is incredibly versatile, offering “handymen” who can build pre-fabricated furniture, mount flat screen TVs or assist with myriad other projects. Again, this application can help retirees on both sides of the fence. Those looking to make a little money on the side can sign up on the app and only take the jobs they want, while those needing help are quickly connected to a reliable person. As with the other services, Task Rabbit offers a rating system and comes with a happiness guarantee, ensuring that the workmanship is backed up by the pledge. 

The sharing economy is drastically changing the way individuals connect and find services that fill their needs. This shift isn’t just occurring among the young, who pioneered the product, but in people who are finding ways to adapt these innovations to their everyday needs.

1 comment about "Boomers And The Sharing Economy".
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  1. Hedda Schupak from Hedda Schupak, June 14, 2017 at 3:05 p.m.

    In some ways, this is just going "back to the future." Pre-WWII, boardinghouses were common, and served the dual purpose of providing extra income for the homeowner and lodging for single people and/or families that couldn't afford anything else.  The market is always going to fill a need somehow. I only hope that these entities find a good reliable way to vet drivers, renters, etc. for safety and criminal background, before someone ends up getting hurt.

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