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Senior Co-Housing

If you're a baby-boomer, you probably have been through or are going through the experience of helping out your aging parents.  The traditional senior housing options for them included gated retirement communities, assisted living "facilities" and nursing homes.  Many of us boomers have been seeking an alternative to those options, while at the same time realizing that living alone in a house or apartment as we age is not a wise choice, either.  Enter "the new kid on the block": co-housing.  It's a concept that's been around a long time in Europe, but is still relatively new in the U.S. But it's a trend that is gaining momentum. The Cohousing Association of the United States  recently  reported that there are now 160 functioning co-housing communities, and 130 in the process of being built.  To date, about a dozen of those 160 are senior projects. Co-housing isn't for everone, but it's a viable option for many, and worth a look. If you'd like to find out more AARP has several good introductory articles. I recommend starting with "Aging Better Together" by Anne P. Glass. 

Thanks for reading and I hope this gives you some food for thought.

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Gold Conversationalist

Count me out!

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Periodic Contributor

Not sure about co-housing, never have been in that position of sharing a flat, apartment house, etc.

 

However, I grew up in a multigenerational home. Mom and dad, four siblingings, a grandmother, and in rotating order, aunts, uncles, cousins. Mom and dad didn't have much, but no family member was ever homeless. My two sisters, grandmother and I shared the largest bedroom. Mom and dad had a small room, and eventually brother had a tiny room next to mom & dad. The pantry addition doubled as guest room if only one person was visiting, otherwise they slept on a rollaway bed in the living room or a pallet on the floor. 

 

Have been married 49 years. We have a 1000 sq foot mill house built in 1925 that we have been adapting to be our "forever home." Our income is such that a house mate would be necessary when one of us passes. Together we are okay.

 

But here's a consideration, know of a couple in a gated community who really couldn't afford their fees etc anymore, but had a large home with many bedrooms. Some of their friends were in the same boat. Renting rooms or something along those lines were not allowed since they were single family homes.

 

Creative idea won out--couple who owned the home, hired a cook, gardner, maid,  chauffeur, butler, and housekeeper for an unspecified sum per year. Not sure of the specifics but they split the utilities, taxes, insurance, housing fees, etcetera and were still living together the last that I heard. 

 

So if you're building a new home, allow for at least two master suites so that different couples can be separate. Works well if a parent needs to move in also. Ranch style, open concept  is preferred by those in wheelchairs.

 

Or possibly build a duplex or quad plex.

Regular Contributor

I have read that Baby Boomers, I grew up in the 60's, are heading back back to the commune. Shar housing, independent housing within a community. There is a group, Women Aging in Communiity--I love this idea and am proud that once again the Baby Boomers have an alernative to the boring status quo. Except I can't trace down any communities.

My daughter might move to Minnesota, Duluth, and I would go willingly to Duluth from Iowa, I used to live in MN. Cool summers, and winters no worse than Chicago--where I grew up, I'd just stay in and write, like I do now. Lake Superior!

Honored Social Butterfly


@cm2216799 wrote:

I have read that Baby Boomers, I grew up in the 60's, are heading back back to the commune. Shar housing, independent housing within a community. There is a group, Women Aging in Communiity--I love this idea and am proud that once again the Baby Boomers have an alernative to the boring status quo. Except I can't trace down any communities.

My daughter might move to Minnesota, Duluth, and I would go willingly to Duluth from Iowa, I used to live in MN. Cool summers, and winters no worse than Chicago--where I grew up, I'd just stay in and write, like I do now. Lake Superior!


Did you try this:

http://www.cohousing.org

 

Life's a Journey, not a Destination" Aerosmith
Regular Contributor

Update on Guanajuato, Mexico Cohousing Community:  Many of you have commented that you'd like the idea of living in a cohousing community, but have discovered they are VERY expensive in the US and Canada.  Guanajuato Cohousing (GTO COHO) has made great strides since I first posted about my wish to start a community here. Our Facebook page has over 200 interested people, many of whom are planning to come to our first Open House, Nov. 11, 2018. The costs of living here and the cost of investing in the community are MUCH less than the US or Canada.  I invite you to visit our FB page to learn more:  Guanajuato Cohousing Project.  It is a closed group, so you will have to answer three questions after you ask to join. Then, an admin. can approve your request.  This is the best way to learn the full history of GTO COHO, get the latest progress reports, learn about the financial and social requirements, and have the opportunity to communicate with others who are interested.  Best regards, Jan

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It would have to be someone who had the same ideals/goals as I. Having some kind of a agreeent/contract (similar to but not as detailed as Sheldon's on - Big Bang Theory). My sister helped someone get back on their feet by allowing them to live with her without some type of agreement as to what the expectations were - it became an uncomfortable situation. When the person was able to find other housing, items/furniture were left in my sister's home.

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Regular Contributor

Connie, sorry to hear your sister had an uncomfortable situation. If you're thinking of cohousing or even just roommates, really good idea to get to know the person well first. Most cohousing groups start out with people who don't know one another much, but they get to know one another during the process of forming the group, making their plans for the community and proceeding with building the community. The successful communities also require their prospective members to attend some workshops on communication/conflict resolution/facilitation. It's not just about the physical buildings - the cement and bricks - it's about the human relationships. Having clear policies and good communication are keys to success.
Contributor

i have always loved the idea of cohousing but can't afford it.  i have yet to see a cohousing community in which the units are less than ab out 225,000 with a monthly fee like a condo.  i can only afford 80-100,000.  i think this is a severe limitation for many of us.

Periodic Contributor

I have also researched a couple and find them far too expensive, usually way over $250,000 plus monthly fees, etc., plus the shared work each owner puts into the community....too bad.

Regular Contributor

I was shocked when I started researching the prices in the U.S. Check out https://www.ic.org (Fellowship for Intentional Community). If you don't find any more economical possibilities in the U.S., take a look at other countries. You may be surprised!
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Contributor

How do I find the articles on co-housing and retirement.

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Love the idea
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Contributor

I like the idea of sharing the place right down the middle. We would have to trust each other and be able to talk out any changes that we each want to make. If this is a real deal, how do we get more info 

Periodic Contributor

My companion and I have been doing this for 10 yrs now and it has worked out really well for us. we split the rent and utilities and enjoy the same things. the familys understand our reasons and are ok with it. I have 5 kids and they are ok with it too. It works for us. I know several other people that are doing this too.
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Retiredtraveler,

You bring out some very good points.  Kinks and wrinkles should be ironed out in the very beginning and maybe (legal?) contracts should be signed.  Would make it easier for everyone.

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Honored Social Butterfly

"...Co-housing isn't for everone, but it's a viable option for many, and worth a look. If you'd like to find out more AARP has several good introductory articles....".

 

To me, the idea is creative and sound. But everything has to be in the legal details. How are expenses divided, especially the rent cost? What happens if someone wants out of the arrangement, or has to leave?  What happens if someone has friends/family over and things get damaged? Pets? Pet damage?

   As long as there are some very specific, and enforceable rules, this could work. But all it takes is one 'so-and-so' to ruin the arrangement, and you end up with bad feelings all around.


"...Why is everyone a victim? Take personal responsibility for your life..."
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Regular Contributor

Yes, I agree that policies must be clearly outlined at the beginning. One of the important factors discussed by Charles Durrett in his books on cohousing is group dynamics and communication. He recommends that the group who is contemplating cohousing attend workshops (can be via internet conferences on Skype or Zoom) to address this aspect. Organization and communication or lack thereof can make or break the venture.
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Bronze Conversationalist

I'd consider cohousing if it was a situation that had separate living but in a shared community, or perhaps a duplex.  I'm picky about everything - decor, pets (I have large dogs), smells, habits - and don't want to change the way I do things, nor do I want to accommodate anyone else's habits.  So, close neighbors with shared activities (gym, club house, etc.) but I don't care to share living accommodations with anyone. 

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Newbie

I like that!
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Periodic Contributor

Yes it's something I'd do. The article is about one way to do it, but that's only for people who have enough money to build & manage a house. I would be really interested in co-housing as long as everyone gets enough privacy. I'd like to be living like that now, but, it has to be a large enough place. One kitchen can make things hard but if you have a schedule where cooking is done in shifts & the kitchen is large enough for everyones items. As long as there are rules that are discussed when written & weekly, or so, meetings then it will work. I've had many roommates in my life & when things are too casual problems can occur. 

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Regular Contributor

Yes, p473323p. I certainly agree about the kitchen use. That's why a community house with full kitchen for shared meals AND private cottages with kitchenettes for those times you don't feel like joining in the community meal both  important features.

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Hi, everyone.  I've lived and worked in the city of Guanajuato, Mexico 20 years, and am about to retire from my university position.  Have a large 3bed/2/bath home on a ridgetop ecological zone eucalyptus forest overlooking the city, about 20 minutes from the city center.  The house built on all one level and wheelchair accessible inside and out. Looking for adults ages 30-70 interested in forming a small (10-14 person) cohousing group. The house would be converted to community use, and members would each build their own cottage/duplex near the house.  Cohousing provides the advantages of community interaction and support along with the necessary elements of privacy and independence. Members themselves manage the community and make all decisions democratically with respect to policies, finances, maintenance, daily living.  

The buildings and land will be transferred as assets to a non-profit corporation and members will be the shareholders of the entirety.  COSTS OF BUILDING AND LIVING EXPENSES ARE CONSIDERABLY LESS THAN IN THE U.S..  If you're interested, please write to me: sisteregg@yahoo.com   I would be happy to discuss detailsview from front terraceview from front terrace and send more pictures, lot diagrams, proposed cottage designs, lists of features.  Thanks!

Newbie

I'm not retiring for a few years, but this sounds delightful!! 

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Regular Contributor

@Denwood54. The project is just starting out. Maybe by the time you retire, we may still be accepting members. Or, if you want to plan ahead and have a place ready to move, you may want to consider that option. If you'd like more information or have questions, I'd be happy to answer. Jan
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I think it's a great idea.  Several years ago my friend and I lived in California.  Her husband had passed away and she lived with her mother.  I had a roommate at the time but that was not working out too good.  Anyway she had a home in Texas that her son and his family live in.  There is also a second small apartment on the same property.  So she suggested that when we retire it would be nice to share the apartment so neither one of us would have to be alone.  She moved here to Texas and worked on getting the apartment expanded and fixed up.  I ended up having to take early retirement at 62 so I also moved here.  That was seven years ago and we now share the apartment and most importantly the expenses.  Her son lives right next door so she gets to watch her grandkids growing up and so do I.  It probably is not for everyone because it does require a lot of patiences and compromise.  But it is working so far for us.  We each have our own room with our computer and TV so we don't argue over who wants to watch what.  Not being a great cook myself, she does most of the cooking while I help with the prep and do the dishes afterwards.  I do bake a lot in the winter which she does not like to do.  So it helps having offsetting skills.  Knowing what I am good at and knowing what she is good at helps a great deal.   It can work if people are willing to give it a try.

Periodic Contributor

I have 20 years of expereince in co-housing. I took care of my parents for that length of time. If your house is set up, where everyone can have their own space to retreat to, it is vialbe solution. It is a support to both families. Kitchen can be a challenge, because, everyone has their set ways about cooking and cleaning. It has to be teamwork, not only for the senior, but for the caretaker. Otherwise resentment can start, which brings problems. Plus it keeps the senior active and gives them selfworth. If there is illness, it is easier on the caretaker, to give assistance with the senior being close. So many people cannot afford assisted living, which is upward of 5-6 thousand dollars a month. Plus even if they say the living conditions are great, most of the time they are not. I had to put my Mom in an assisted home for the last year of her life. It had become difficult to take care of her with the physical needs and health issues. I was always having meetings with management about my Mother's care. It was a nightmare. With cost and economic issues co-housing a great way to go.

Contributor

Could also look at next gen homes. 

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For several years, i had extensive interactions with widows, usually in the late 60's to late 80's. most who lived alone resided in the home they'd shared with their spouse. A common theme among them was cost of living, maintaing the home and related issues. 

Co-housing is an ideal solution with the caveat that the match process is critical. with today's skilled testing /assessment, matching should be much easier than it would have been even 10 years ago.

It's an idea whose time has come and I'd have much more confidence in AARP's ability to move, implement it than any other entity.

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Super Contributor

No thanks.  My cat's enough.