Like any living situation, co-living has its pros and cons. An article from the July/August 2020 edition of NAR’s senior newsletter can help you understand what they are. NAR outlines the advantages and potential disadvantages as well as how to mitigate them.
First, the advantages. Sharing responsibilities in the home is sure to decrease the burden on everyone. It’s especially useful if residents have distinct strengths and weaknesses and can complement each other. Residents in a co-living situation also divide costs, whether it’s mortgages as a homeowner or rent as a renter. Another big plus is the social factor. Humans are inherently social, and our physical and mental well-being depends on a sense of community.
Conflict is bound to arise between any people living together. This is especially true when there are power dynamics or physical limitations at play. Homeowners and renters may battle for a sense of control. Differences in health and mobility may place an unexpected burden on some residents. Luckily, many conflicts can be avoided with written agreements and trial periods. Be sure to interview prospective residents and discuss with them matters of finance, cleaning, visitors and pets, scheduling, and private vs common areas and household items. Background checks and credit checks may also be advised.
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Co-living and co-housing are two types of housing arrangements that may be confused. Both are types of “intentional communities” — that is, communities in which the residents share some or all of the space. There are important distinctions in how that space is shared, though, outlined in July/August 2020 edition of NAR’s SRES newsletter.
In a co-living arrangement, all residents share a single dwelling, and the residents are not relatives. Each resident will normally have a private bedroom and possibly a private bathroom. The rest of the rooms are communal, including the kitchen, dining room, living room, and laundry area. This will be familiar to college students living in dorms, but it’s also a potentially beneficial housing arrangement of seniors who may not be able to afford their own housing space or may need assistance.
Co-housing communities, on the other hand, are more private, and likely more expensive. Each party in a co-housing situation may or may not be a single individual; they could be couples or families as well. In any case, the living unit is not shared with other parties, and no room inside the dwelling is communal. Instead, the communal space all exists outside the dwelling, in the form of activity rooms, pools, meeting rooms, or similar such areas.
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More and more seniors are looking for a financially viable way to retain their independence as long as possible. Co-living is a promising solution, which means finding the right housemate for you. Here are a few tips to help, taken from an article in the July/August 2020 edition of NAR’s senior newsletter.
Don’t limit yourself to only looking for other seniors to be your housemate. College students are often looking for co-living situations as well, so such an arrangement could be mutually beneficial. You may look for other types of individuals that are not usually home, such as business professionals or frequent travellers. It’s okay if you and your housemate have differences. Learn to appreciate those differences and enjoy your time together.
Make sure they aren’t too different, though. Take the usual precautions to determine whether you and your housemate are compatible, such as shared interests, lifestyle, and privacy expectations. You and your housemate should complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Your safety is also important — meet first in a public place, have friends with you, get references and maybe even a background check or credit check.
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