co-housing – a creative new trend

cohousingSingle again, after my divorce, I wondered if I would be able to afford a home on my own. My sister was also back to single status and I thought:

wouldn’t it be cool if she and I bought a house together

Well, it seems that I may have been ahead of my time. There is a new housing trend growing in North America called “co-housing” that is essentially just that.

Unlike a rental situation, each co-owner has a percentage of equity ownership of the home and are registered as Tenants in Common. Tenants in common are each issued a separate title reflecting a separate ownership interest.

Different from joint tenancy, these shares in the home don’t have to be equal in size and ownership is freehold and resell-able on the open market both during life and through a will.

Each of the co-owners share the common areas and amenities of the home and share the common expenses, taxes and care monthly.

So you’re probably thinking:

Why would someone want to pay for and live in
just part of a house?

There are, in fact, a number of good reasons (especially for the 55+):

  1. It’s an affordable option if you aren’t able to afford a home on your own.
  2. Once your share is paid for, there is no rent, which reduces your monthly expenses. This is especially helpful if you want to (or have to) retire and are now living on less income.
  3. If the time comes where you need to move to an assisted living facility, you have an asset that you can sell to help you with the cost.
  4. Chores are shared or the co-owners can choose to hire outside help for things like cleaning and yard work and split the cost.
  5. Housemates can even opt to hire a live in or live out caregiver if extra help is needed for personal or medical care.
  6. Many people simply don’t like to or are afraid to live alone. This is especially true for people who have lived with a spouse for their entire adult life and now face life without them.

With co-housing, many 55+ folks would be able to remain independent and not move to institutional retirement homes when they don’t really need to thus allowing them, as they get older, to age in place.

“Aging in place” means growing older without having to move from your home and familiar surroundings. Studies have shown that seniors who are able to manage aging in place are happier and live longer with less health problems.

70% of seniors spend the rest of their life in the place where they celebrated their 65th birthday.

Now the downside.

You had better like the housemates you choose!

It can be a lot of work but agreements have to be made regarding the responsibilities of each resident and what is and isn’t acceptable within the household. And I’m not sure how selling your share would work. Do the other housemates have to approve the buyer?

There are companies starting to pop up to help facilitate co-housing set ups. That may be a better way to go because they would (or should) know the legal ins and outs and be impartial.

This style of living may not appeal to everyone but it’s time to think outside the box and look for new, realistic housing options for our aging population.

Kudos for creativity!

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