Communes for grownups --Co-housing for Boomers a growing trend


Cohousing, the current incarnation of what we Baby Boomers used to call communal living, turns out to be a growing senior living trend. Both in Denmark, where co-housing originated in the 1970's, and in the United States where the model has been gaining ground, senior interest is on the rise.

Boomers have only begun to retire. At its peak this retirement wave will reach as many as 10,000/day and will continue for more than a decade. Not only will there be more of us retiring but we will be "retired" for longer. The phrase that has already reached the popular lingo - aging in place - will be the theme song. Managing the phenomena, especially managing it financially, is going to require major changes. There is reason to think this change may be for the better. Certainly, the current model - from home to assisted living to nursing home - is anything but user-friendly.

In co-housing, self-sufficient units are owned or rented by the individual -- similar to a condominium -- but in addition there is communal space and shared amenities. These may include a large kitchen, dining area, media room, workshop, laundry facilities, even rooms for guests.

There are six commonly accepted characteristics of co-housing. The model is participatory -- usually from its origin - community centered with a shared decision making process, resident management and common facilities but income is individual rather than shared. Co-housing has been a leader in being environmentally friendly, a trend which will certainly continue.