I have been watching Elder Co-housing grow over the past 10 years or so. This idea appeals to me. Initially, if you have enough saved to "buy in" to a community that has a mission statement you agree with and like-minded people as residents, I think it would be a great way to go. Besides having your own private home/condo you also have community shared buildings and activities. You might garden and produce meals for the community. Everyone has to offer time to the community. I am especially finding many of my friends and family are growing older alone. This would provide a community to help out in some circumstances. I'm not talking about a "nursing home or assisted living" with medical care. I'm talking about communities that together enable elders to live independently in community.
Who has any knowledge or experience regarding these communities? I would be interested to hear about them. Two websites I have been watching are ELDERCOHOUSING.ORG and ELDERSPIRIT.NET.
We live in the SF Bay Area, an expensive place to live/retire. I've started attending a couple of these retirement community presentations, and it's been very interesting. I was surprised to find how many AL and Independent living places there are around here. Most are small. The largest is run by the Lutheran Church, which has 5 excellent facilities in the region. I visited the one nearest us. It is expensive, but the facilities are excellent and the services are wonderful. What I liked was the residents - we met about a dozen of them - were all active, vital and interesting people.
I don't know if we could actually afford to buy into this particular facility, but it gives us a "gold standard" to judge other places by, which is always useful. If one of us dies, the other could definitely afford it, as the smaller apartments are definitely within reach financially. For us together, it would be more difficult - the apartments aren't that large. Even the largest 2bd 2ba is less than 700 sq. ft., and at a cost of $6K/month plus $400K buy-in, it's out of our budget. Smaller apts. are still very nice, and cost much less both monthly/buy-in.
Assuming we remain in good health, we're still 15-20 yrs from entering these places. By then there should be even more choices available (at least four good-sized hi-rise senior housing co-ops are going up in a 20-mile radius right now) so we hope to find something suitable at that time.
There's a remote possibility that we might be able to combine households with some of our extended family who live nearby. The economic downturn has made that more difficult, but when we do finally decide to sell our house (probably another 10 yrs), we'll re-assess the situation to see if it makes sense financially. If not, we'll go back to apartment living. The Bay Area has rent control so renting is still cheaper than owning.
There is no substitute for visiting the facilities yourself to decide what you want. This being the San Francisco Bay Area, nicer facilities are expensive. There is no getting around that! There are several places to start, as I haven't found a comprehensive list of all facilities:
1) Seniors for Living: http://www.seniorsforliving.com/independent-living/. You can search by zip code, but be aware that some of the non-profits which run very good senior living housing are not included. A couple of those are listed below.
2) St. Paul Lutheran Church runs several senior buildings in the Bay Area and they are outstanding. I went to a presentation for the Lake Merritt facility and was very impressed. But they are not cheap, although some are less expensive than others. As is always the case in CA, if the RE is expensive, so is the facility: http://www.jtm-esc.org/spt/index.htm
3) Agesong has developed several large senior housing facilities, some new, some renovated older buildings: http://www.agesong.com/our-communities.html
You are probably looking int he right direction. I happened up a community that was developed in the 60s for those 55 and older. We have heard unpleasant tales about some of these communities, but this one seems to be doing OK. The age designation has been upheld by the state (AZ) with a stipulation that a certain % of owners/residents meet the minimum requirement. The other thing that attracted me to the community was that it was very well kept, even after 40+ years. I feel comfortable here now, since I am still quite mobile in my early 70s. I will look at the type of residences you mention if my comfort level changes, because I would be more interested in the common areas then. I have several friends who have joined that type of community and are quite pleased.
Thank you all that have replied to my interest in learning more about co-housing communities. I'm still looking.
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