One survey participant complained about their search in a directory listing co-housing for seniors: “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 offer a way for seniors to preserve their dignity by combining resources to save on costs, as well as enjoying the camaraderie of their peers.
Fortunately, there are many cohousing arrangements that are working for seniors. See the options listed below. For a “how-to” guide to setting up a retirement community, see the Resources section below.
Affordable retirement housing options
- Some seniors don’t want to give up their own homes, even when the home is larger than they need and a burden to care for. Home share programs match up a younger person or couple to live in a senior’s home with them. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 than most working adults can afford. 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 is 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.
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A free referral service to help U.S. families find the right senior living community: aplaceformom.com. For nursing care in Canada, we recommend you contact your provincial health care resources.
Betsy Morris and Raines Cohen consult about senior cohousing. cohousingcoaches.com/about
Retirement communities make use of legislation exceptions that allow them to limit residents by age and gender. It is legal for you to advertise an accepted age range and gender limitations for your retirement community.