Co-housing could be the answer.


In the Sunbelt, adult communities like Sophie George’s Bridgewater Village, with its golf courses, swimming pools, and shuffle board courts, drew millions of Snowbelt couples into “active retirement.”  This resulted in parents geographically isolated from their children.  When they are lonely, phone calls, e-mails, texts and Webcam can make up for the distance.  But when their health declines, elders have to hire in-home caregivers, move to assisted living facilities, return to their families, or land in skilled nursing centers.

Recently, we attended a cousin’s poetry reading held at a co-housing community.  In 1994 several forward-thinking folks agreed to jointly buy a piece of desert on which to build individual housing within a master plan designed on principles of sustainability.  They formed a non-profit corporation and planned for 28 new homes in a cluster design on 43 acres.  The zoning hurdles were difficult.  They hired a project manager.  By 2003 all 28 passive solar, energy efficient, adobe homes were occupied.

These families have privacy, but also a 3600 sq. ft., co-owned social center with a library, meeting rooms, a pool and a children’s playroom.  They have a kitchen for shared meals, with vegetables from their own garden.  They also have shared ideals, one of which is to preserve a large part of their property for natural habitat.  They believe in water collection systems, xeriscape, and recycling.  It’s been a smashing success, but a lot of hard work and re-tooling of traditions.

Now it will be interesting to watch how this group of thoughtful citizens adjusts to aging.  Their potential to make this an elder-cohousing model is huge, because the spirit of cooperation is already present.

28 comments to Co-housing could be the answer.

  • Hey there, this was a really quality post. I’d like to write like this also – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I very busy and never seem to get something done.

    • karen

      Time seems to be the most valuable commodity on earth these days. My heart aches for people who have so much responsibility and worry about the future that they can hardly think about anything else. A lot of well-known writers would say that you should establish a routine by making even an hour a day completely yours just for writing. Start writing “automatically” (without a topic in mind), and see where it goes. When looking back on a week’s worth of meandering thoughts, you may have an insight, a kernel of a thought for more writing in that direction. If you really want to write a clear statement (or personal essay), first try to limit it to 200 words. That’s what my husband, an English professor, has his students do. It is harder to write short than long. My best training came through poetry writing classes in college and then by having to write 30-second announcements of programs to come on an educational TV station.

  • Carolyn Rashti

    Where is this Sophie George’s Bridgewater Village? Google can’t find it – help! It sounds just like what I’d like to know about.

    Love your blog!

    • karen

      I can’t reveal the real name, or potential buyers might be afraid to move where a murder can be committed when you are out walking at night. Wait until you read WINDOW ON THE POND to find out how the neighbors form a patrol to protect each other and their properties.

    • karen

      Did you read SOPHIE REDESIGNED? If you do, you will think it sounds familiar. There are loots of them in Florida and other places that spring up in the 1970s. When you get to WINDOW ON THE POND (perhaps September it will be out), there are some funny scenes involving the community volunteer patrol.

  • Nice to be visiting your blog again, it has been months for me. Well this article that i’ve been waited for so long. I need this article to complete my assignment in the college, and it has same topic with your article. Thanks, great share.

    • karen

      Ordinarily, I wouldn’t trust a blog for information that is factual. (My husband is a college professor.) Check out the website for Milagro Co-housing.

  • Thank you for such a fantastic blog. Where else could anyone get that kind of info written in such a perfect way? I have a presentation that I am presently working on, and I have been on the look out for such information.

    • karen

      There’s a very active organization of senior co-housing specialists. Just Google “senior co-housing.” Also, check out the Milagro C0-housing website. It is in Tucson.

  • Good share, great article, very usefull for us…thanks.

  • Good topic for making an effective dissertation. . . . . .

    • karen

      Yes, but we need more examples to get a good reading of how well it works. Years ago, in the OLD Living Magazine, I read about co-workers who built a compound in the woods to use for old age and meanwhile for weekends with their kids. I wonder what happned over the years. It must have been around 1985, and I think it was in California. Anyone know of this?

  • Excellent post I must say.. Simple but yet interesting and engaging.. Keep up the awesome work!

  • This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.

  • Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with extra information? It is extremely useful for me.

  • Have found your web page. My pal mentioned it to me before, yet never got around to checking it out until now. I must express, I’m floored. I really enjoyed reading through your posts and will absolutely be back to get more.

  • I know this is really boring and you are skipping to the next comment, but I just wanted to throw you a big thanks – you cleared up some things for me!

  • Cool post! How much stuff did you have to look up in order to write this one? I can tell you put some work in.

    • karen

      Tucson is one of the cities to try cohousing early, so I got to know about it. Also, all three of my children are professional planners, working on or around housing. It’s easy when you are old or know older people that the options for housing are not appealing to everyone. If you don’t mind spending money to be waited on by strangers, or find a contractor with CAPS credentials to fix up your own house to make it safe and comfortable, and if you can afford help when you need it — good for you. But if you want to live a full life with a community of people with shared ideals, then cohousing is a natural. It’s work, though, and the initial expense may be greater than ideal. There are people working on this issue. Keep an eye out for something new.

  • Great I have read your article and by the way I found you website on Google and I think after I read particularpost on you website especially this one I have my own opinion about what should I comment on the next meeting with my boy friend, maybe today I will tell my girl friendabout this one and get debate.

    • karen

      It’s never too soon to think about how you are going to live from ages 85-105. If you have close friends — that is, long term friends — you might consider building a little compound, with small houses and shared outdoor space (as well as private patios). The trick is to get some land and a plan in place before land prices increase in the hands of developers.

  • I agree with you. This type of projects should be encouraged and I think that these type of projects are the projects for the future. . . . .

    • karen

      To: Filterless Air Purifier: One of the things that is so imbedded in our minds is that we need to own our personal living space. Not only has it been second-best to rent homes over the last few decades, but we have forgotten (or never knew) housing history in the U.S. In the 1930s and 1940s middle class families shared their homes much more than we do now. There would be a grandma rocking or helping out in the kitchen. A working and single aunt would use an extra bedroom. Many widows took in a boarder to make ends meet. There were many SROs — purpose-built boarding houses, where the occupants of single rooms came together for meals. This made it possible for people to move to the city for jobs. Today we are surprised that our children need to come home to live after college. It’s always about economy — and because we have grown used to being able to support ourselves, we are failing now to look for opportunities to lessen the impact. C0-housing could be affordable. The pioneers have built some pretty expensive units, but I am sure Charles Durett or other experts on this could tell you of the economic benefits of co-housing, and the varieties. Those who co-house can tell you about the social benefits.

  • Your site is fabulous – you have a lot of updated neat ideas designs.I enjoy your blog design Where did you but the layout?.

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