As Baby Boomers age, the need for living alternatives for older adults continues to be ever more important. Many of us have been firsthand witnesses to the aging of our parents as medical technology affords them the ability to live longer, often in an institutional setting or with a diminished quality of life. While living longer is a goal, living better may be a more optimal one.
The concept of Cohousing is gaining in popularity in the United States with more than 150 cohousing communities in varying stages of development throughout the country. This type of living arrangement began in the 1960’s in Denmark and was eventually brought to the US by California architect, Charles Durrett, and his wife, Kathryn McCamant, in the 1980’s.
Basically, cohousing involves a collaborative living arrangement whereby individually owned homes are built around common areas and where the residents actively participate in a life in community with the other residents. Homeowners work together to “govern” the community, handling issues that may arise and have regular community interaction such as potluck meals, trips, or even spontaneous outings such as attending a movie, card game or any other activity residents may have an interest in. There is usually some sort of common building where residents can gather and these buildings typically provide space for guests and caregivers to stay. Many who have opted into this lifestyle see it as a way to maintain independence for a longer time and as a way to avoid institutional living in their later years altogether.
Some other advantages of cohousing may include:
- Less expensive than maintaining a larger single-family home and less expensive than institutional retirement living
- Increased social interaction and connectedness with neighbors
- Environmentally Green as cohousing communities and residences tend to have a small environmental footprint and utilize Green construction techniques
- Residents have control of how their community is run
- Added sense of security
Currently, Cohousing Charlotte is in the formation stages. As well there are several completed and developing cohousing communities nearby in Asheville & the Triad areas of North Carolina, as well as in Floyd, VA.
For more information regarding a cohousing community near you, go to www.cohousing .org. You may also want to listen to the following podcast that aired on local NPR station WFAE recently: http://wfae.org/post/co-housing-trend
Check it out and let us know what you think.
Is this something you can see yourself exploring in the future?