For those living in high-cost areas, like Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and other places where the cost of housing is astronomical, the idea of purchasing land and building tiny houses next to each other seems like something out of a movie. But according to an article in Seattle Times titled “Battling rising cost of living? Seeking a community? A look at the cohousing lifestyle,” this could be a very real and enjoyable solution for many retirees.
This past June, Charles Durrett, an architect who has been advocating for the cohousing lifestyle for years, presented a workshop for people who want to establish these types of communities. The idea is that everyone gets their own private home and living quarters, while sharing kitchens and other shared rooms. Neighbors share house items, meals, coordinate activities and make group decisions about how to manage their shared lives.
While he introduced the concept and phrase “cohousing” thirty years ago, he says that he’s now busier than ever before. The workshop was sold out.
The concept could be an ideal solution for seniors who don’t want to give up their privacy but would like to be part of a smaller community. Durrett recommends that each community have a caretaker unit, so someone who is able to take care of the residents, can live as part of the group.
The success of a cohousing community is not in the size or design of the house. It is due to the enthusiasm of the people coming together, who believe their lives will be better, if they are living as part of a community. That’s the common denominator. The architect has lived in a cohousing community for 12 years with 30 adults—20 of them seniors—and 20 children.
Research has shown that people live longer, when they are socially engaged. However, social can also turn to drama, especially in small groups. Therefore, people must learn how to get along and cooperate.
Is cohousing for you? You should do your homework before making a big decision about selling your home to live in a shared community. Your estate plan should also reflect your new position and be aligned with your new ownership. An estate planning attorney will be able to help you achieve that goal, while protecting your assets for your heirs.
Reference: Seattle Times (June 1, 2018) “Battling rising cost of living? Seeking a community? A look at the cohousing lifestyle”