In recent years co-living has gained popularity not only in younger 20’s demographics, but attracting popularity for 50+ Boomer generation. Typically, seniors who opt for the co-living lifestyle as homeowners enjoy additional income from roommates and companionship!
What’s the difference between Co-Living versus Co-Housing?
In co-living people without family ties choose to cohabitate in a single dwelling. Typically, each resident has a private bedroom but other rooms (such as kitchen, laundry room, family room) are considered shared common spaces. In a co-housing community, each individual or family has an independent living unit (single family home, condo or apt) and they might share common facilities such as pools, a library, conference or fitness space.
In the SF Bay Area we know that the lack of affordable housing is difficult as it can hit the senior population hard. As the ‘Silver Tsunami’ and senior households continues to expand over the next two decades, households in their 80’s will be the fastest-growing age group according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Many of those households already face cost burdens.
As the cost of senior communities continue to rise, along with visitation restrictions which COVID19 has placed on family members not being allowed into these senior communities, the desire for multi-generational housing continues to escalate. These are hard questions all families must decided what is important to them. Families are looking for more options as our lifestyle has shifted during these stressful health crisis times our community and family interdependence has become of greater necessity.
What are Co-Living Advantages?
- Sharing household responsibilities can lessen the load and housemates can have complimentary benefits such as one roommate’s ability to drive to the store and another can prep food and cook. This might allow individuals to live independent and active lives.
- Fewer seniors own their own homes these days, more are likely to have a mortgage or even a second mortgage. Co-living can help homeowners afford to stay in their home but creating passive income with rent. Sharing space means dividing up utility costs and home maintenance expenses too.
- Loneliness is one aspect of aging-in-place that co-living can help remedy. A sense of belonging and community can be nurtured with scheduled co-living events such as “Italian Night!” and plan cooking a dinner while playing Italian opera and watch a favorite Italian movie!
Preventing Co-Living Conflicts
Create a written agreement outlining who pays for what and when. Housemates with declining cognitive abilities and/or mobility issues can make living together difficult so a mutually agreed upon rental contract will help avoid co-living conflicts.
Make sure to interview to find the right fit housemate. Look for someone who is financially stable, and shares your interest, values and lifestyle. Always discuss privacy expectations and do consider looking outside an age range. When meeting with a prospective roommate for the first time, always meet in a neutral public location for safety reasons. Get references from previous roommates and consider a background check and credit check; protect oneself.
Consider a trial period and see if all personalities get along! Will pets or habits become irritating after two weeks? Will you need to consider ‘overnight guests’ and does each roommate need to seek permission and could this be considered an invasion of privacy for some? Some people need more privacy than others and having a written agreement can help communication and expectation.
It can be a wonderful experience co-living with others. Co-living can be multi-generational or the same age, but whatever one decides to do I hope you’ll enjoy the company and appreciate your differences!
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Lynne Watanabe MacFarlane, MCDM, SRES | Realtor
PFAC Silicon Valley affiliate
Intero | A Berkshire Hathaway Affiliate