Planning to Live Like You Want To?

Published In Blog

So, you don’t like assisted living communities and dread the thought of going to a rest home, but you know you are tired of living alone and see a time in your future when you might need a little more help. What are you going to do?

There are so many alternative ways to live these days. You can thank those baby boomers, Gen X and Millennials for thinking outside the box. New communities are springing up each year and they’re not the retirement homes of yesteryear!

Intergenerational Living

Remember reading about the communes of the 60s and 70s? Well, the new communal living communities are far from those. These are innovative communities where the old and young live together. Forward thinking people have gotten together and planned the communities that they want. Some have private homes with a communal house for cooking and recreation. Some also include a group home set-up for those who need a little more support. It’s all up to the owner/creators of these unique communities and its catching on across this country of ours.

The AARP website writes about such communities.

Some have shared gardens and grow their own vegetables. Some rent an apartment to a nurse in exchange for care. Some have child care venues where elders and youngsters enjoy one another on a daily basis. Homes are built to the owners’ preferences so having their families over is not a problem.

Co-Housing with Friends or Potential Friends

One residential option to consider when you weigh your housing choices as you age is living in a senior co-housing community (a type of collaborative housing), restricted generally to seniors 55 and older.  Though designs and a layout of the senior community may vary, residents live independently in a house they own, but face each other across a courtyardThis helps foster connection, solidarity, and mutual interaction between residents.  The residents share maintenance of the grounds, pool, clubhouse; plan community meals; and manage budgets and infrastructure needs.  For more information or to locate a cohousing community, visit the Cohousing Association of the United States.

Dr. Bill & His Green House Project

Dr. William Thomas believes elders should remain in charge of their lives and live with purpose. His housing “pods” offer co-housing to older people who share in the work — the cooking and chores. Some of these group homes have outside help to deal with extra-care issues. He believes that most generations don’t want to be waited on, but prefer to contribute to everyday life. Some just need a little more care and services such as transportation and help with harder tasks.

Granny Flats & Tiny Houses

Many people approaching their golden years are looking for affordable housing and the ability to travel when and where they want to go. Enter the cultural appeal of the Tiny House Movement.  They absolutely do not look like a mobile home but just a tiny home on wheels. These homes are perfect for older people who might want to “park” next to a family member while still being able to actually take them to a park. These homes are not for everyone. Some are as small as 200 square feet. But the price is right and the taxes are non-existent in most states. If you’re not happy with your surroundings you just hook up and move on.

A popular housing option that has gained big attraction in the past few decades for aging relatives is the accessory dwelling unit (or ADU, for short). ADUs (often called secondary units, granny flats, cottages, or in-law units) are standalone, independent living units, located on the same lot as the single-family residence.  Smaller than the primary residence, ADUs can be a studio, or one- and two-bedrooms. It is fully functional, featuring its own kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom area, and must have its own entrance. The type of ADU permitted depends on the location and the property. (Better Homes and Garden has an excellent overview of ADUs, discussing zoning regulations, building codes, costs,  and design considerations.)

You can see that planning how you want to live and where that might be is really up to you. Don’t settle for something you don’t want. Dream big and create your own style of community!

(This article has been updated April, 2024 since it originally published in November, 2016.)

Leave a Reply