I’d like to present you with a novel twist on the cohousing theme: the intentional shared household. Also known as “householding”, it can be thought of as cohousing in miniature. Unlike the typical roommate arrangement, this type of shared household allows the participants to have an equity stake in a home, but for a much smaller investment than usual.
Each party has a private bedroom, sitting area and bathroom. The living room, kitchen, dining area, yard, garage, etc. are shared. There might be dedicated storage space, a second family room or TV area, or guest quarters for occasional visitors. The choices are endless. It can start with either a new build or a renovation to an existing dwelling, in any setting – urban, suburban, or rural. A great way for people to grow old together with friends, an intentional shared household could be created in a neighbourhood of seniors, offering a secure long-term home in an already-familiar place.
The householding movement seems to be catching fire among aging Boomers and Zoomers. The include people without large retirement savings, neighbours who share a desire to downsize, and groups of friends or singles willing to share a financial investment. It’s a no-lose situation for everyone involved — some of the benefits:
- shelter at a fraction of the cost of single-family occupancy
- no need for anyone to own a lot of “stuff”, since many basics (appliances, TV, etc.) are shared
- utility bills can be split among occupants, yielding savings for each
- people on hand to water plants, do pet care, or handle other tasks would simplify travel plans
- resources can be pooled to attain amenities that might not be affordable otherwise
This arrangement requires careful design of private and shared domains to ensure everyone’s comfort at all times. Agreements have to be in place concerning occupants’ roles, responsibilities, and financial inputs. With honest discussion and a shared vision, a culture of community will be built through a process of trust-building and discovery.
Living alone is a modern phenomenon virtually unknown before the 20th century in most world cultures. While many people find freedom in it, others find it isolating and a financial hardship. Householding creates the potential for a loving, supportive and sharing community on a micro-scale, to carry one into old age. If this sounds like something you’d like to explore, please get in touch — I’m happy to do a presentation on the subject. In the meantime, here’s a link to a very informative website where you can find examples of shared living, a directory, and other resources: http://www.ic.org/