Senior Cohousing

Community Cohousing for Seniors

One survey participant complained about their search in a directory listing senior cohousing: “Thus far, I have not found any established community with house purchase costs under $300k. I had no idea ‘intentional community for seniors’ meant wealthy only!”

Many consider baby boomers to be generally well off, without realizing that there have been serious and disproportionate erosions in the market-investment 401K savings of some who believed they were making cautious and normal decisions about their retirement funds.

Due to legal (but now questionable) financial practices that are described as the Retirement Gamble, many elderly see no potential to quit working, ever. Intentional communities like senior cohousing offers a way to preserve dignity by combining resources to save on costs, as well as enjoying the camaraderie of their peers.

Fortunately, there are many senior cohousing arrangements that are workable and can be replicated. Explore the options listed below. For a “how-to” guide to setting up a retirement community, see the Resources section below.


affordable retirement housing options

1. Invite in part-time help.

Some seniors don’t want to give up their own homes, even when the home is larger than they need and a burden to keep maintained. Living with a younger couple or individual to help with physical chores and a sense of security can help seniors remain independent longer. These part time caregivers can drive seniors, do household chores and errands, and help seniors remember their medications. This younger-housemate option could be facilitated by creating a separate private unit within the home, where building codes allow. Check out the page Trial Run: Join a Household to see who might be a good match in your area. In addition, search online for “home share programs” that match up a younger person or couple to live in a senior’s home with them.

2. Invite in full-time help and other seniors.

If affordable round-the clock care is needed, you might look for care-team members who can move in rent-free in exchange for part-time caregiving duties. Having reliable people close by can bring you peace of mind when you or someone you love needs consistent help. These could be part of a team that includes paid professionals that come periodically to meet specialized needs. You might invite another elder needing similar care to move in, if the residents seem they might enjoy each others’ company.

3. Invite in other seniors.

Living with other seniors in the same home is an idea popularized by the sitcom The Golden Girls. Many seniors value the company and security this gives them. People nearing retirement may be looking to pool their income with a few other compatible individuals or couples.

4. Cohousing for seniors.

Condominiums (also called strata) have been one of the fastest-growing types of residential facilities targeting retirees. These cohousing residents have their own separate units but some shared space such as recreational and laundry facilities. Some of these are housing cooperatives in which residents own shares in the collective and have participation in the community’s governance. They can hire out physical chores and feel comfortable that there’s medical help nearby whenever needed. Some communities contract for affordable care, so that members have increased assistance as they age. One of the biggest draws is continued social contact, which is a challenge for the elderly as their cohort gets smaller over the years.

5. Enjoy retirement outside urban environments.

Buying semi-rural or rural property together may result in a more affordable location in a scenic spot. If it’s not a priority to have a location close to health care, buying remote land can offer a way to live closer to outdoor recreation opportunities. To discuss feasibility of utilizing remote land for multiple dwellings or for RV parking, contact one of our trusted real estate professionals listed on the consultants page or the consultants section below.


Orchard Gardens Coop RV Park: a gated community for those 55 and older. They have a pool, clubhouse, and activities. Members rent (long-term or short-term) or purchase space to park an RV or install a manufactured home. Each property owner is an equal shareholder, with each lot having voting privileges. Weekly meetings are held with all shareholders. The coop has an elected Board of Directors that oversees the community operations. There is also an Architectural Review Committee that ensures the voted-on aesthetics of the community are maintained.  

BCOFR: From humble beginnings three decades ago, a group of BC activists created an organization that now has over 120 staff and a multi-million dollar budget to operate a seniors assisted living complex and adult daycare center, and housing for women who are victims of domestic abuse.

Elderberry Cohousing: This rural IC was self-created, self-managed, and self-directed. They state that all members have an equal voice in consensus-based community decisions.

Consultants for Senior Cohousing

Members Interested in Senior Cohousing


Some sites match elderly homeowners with a younger caretaker who stays for free in exchange for negotiable chores. A leading senior homeshare site is The National Shared Housing Resource Center keeps a directory of U.S. homeshare programs. Similarly, matches college students to elderly homeowners. matches younger renters to seniors or people with a disability, for reduced rent.

The Senior Cohousing Handbook: A Community Approach to Independent Living: a guide to to help groups create age-in-place senior cohousing, by Charles Duret.

Grants for elderly in the U.S.: This list is organized by state. These grants or scholarships can be applied for by individuals. You do not need to have non-profit status or be under the umbrella of a government agency.

Betsy Morris and Raines Cohen: consultants for senior cohousing (not affiliated with

Retirement communities make use of legislation exceptions that allow them to limit residents by age and gender. It is legal to advertise an accepted age range and gender limitations as a retirement community.

Here is an informational resource that can help you communicate the growing need for community for seniors. Stephen J. Shaw discusses the devastating implications of aging populations across the Westernized world. In Japan, which is at the lead in the global trend of a shrinking younger population to care for elders, seniors in immediate need of a care home routinely spend 3 years on a waiting list. He predicts that some future cities with a high cost of living will be filled with mainly younger generations, while the majority of elderly people will only be able to afford to live on the outskirt communities, where there are few younger people.

If you have a shrinking workforce to pay the interest on those [national debts], I mean you’re going to have a real pressure on the younger people to continue to have anything like the quality of lifestyle that we’ve had before, so communities are going to look different. I really worry about loneliness in all of this.…People who don’t find a partner, people who don’t have children…are likely to face a level of loneliness. And there’s many support groups online…people in this situation who, they’re dealing with a level of loneliness…so there’s a community in Japan where I visited where 50 years ago it was filled with younger families, and today it’s only older people, but it’s mainly older women living there alone, because partners men tend to die younger….we went to the local grocery store and we hear that these women come out maybe once a week to do the shopping, and they’re spending forever talking while they’re paying for their groceries, because that’s the only person they’re getting to talk to weekly. We’ve gotta do something about this. Clearly we can’t let people remain in their apartments without a sense of community. But we’re going to have to think about so many issues…that we’re not scratching the surface of yet. (4:20)

Needs-based housing and social safety nets: See other resources listed at this page.