10 Replies Latest reply on Mar 9, 2010 9:58 PM by Pumkinpie04

    Elder Co-housing Development


      Hello Everyone,

      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.



        • Re: Elder Co-housing Development
          Hi, Pinky, everyone.  Pinky, thanks for this topic.  I've been
          thinking along the lines of elder co-housing myself.  I am
          convinced it can provide valuable social stimulation and
          support for its residents.  Thanks for listing those two
          websites. I plan to go in and have a look today.

          There are so many positives to this idea: more efficient
          living quarters and a smaller residential 'footprint' to
          help slow down urban sprawl; opportunities for community
          gardening and food-growing, less feelings of
          isolation and loneliness for members.  I personally have
          grown quite tired of trying to maintain my large, detached
          house.  Perhaps it is because I'm still working full-time
          in addition to getting older, but I lately think it ridiculous
          that I must manicure my lawn and otherwise keep up with
          the Jones'es.  In an elder co-op setting I would be much
          more willing to do these pesky tasks because
          I would be sharing them with others.

          Best wishes,

          • Re: Elder Co-housing Development

            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.


              • Re: Elder Co-housing Development
                I am just starting to look into Co-housing.  I am not interested in sharing a house with others, but in buying (or renting) into a community that shares many services.  I am a widow who wants to sell my house, but the economic downturn has made it necessary for me to delay the sale.  (Not that I will get what I thought it was worth in 2006!).  Has anyone personally checked out the co-housing alternatives in the East Bay (San Francisco Bay Area).  I am still working,  3 days per week, made necessary by the expenses I am carrying for a business my husband bought just prior to his death.. 
                  • Re: Elder Co-housing Development
                    We spent three years exploring co-housing across the country, visiting and sometimes housesitting and participating in community events while we were there. It's a big decision -- great for some and not so great for others. (We now are cohousing residents in Michigan.) We'd strongly suggest making several visits to any place that you are considering to be sure that the "micro-culture" and community expectations suit you. You'll also want to know that the finances are sound (they usually are), how decisions are made in the community (usually by attending meetings and arriving at consensus), what kinds of time and work contributions are expected, whether the community is relatively stable or in some kind of transition... You can find openings in your area at the national cohousing association web site (Google "national cohousing association." We housesat at Swan's Market in Oakland, and found the people there lovely; it is an extremely urban setting with all the pluses and minuses that that entails. The best advice is to contact places you are considering, ask lots of questions, and then visit a few times - share meals, etc. - to see if it's for you. It's good that you are not taking the decision lightly. Good luck!
                    • Re: Elder Co-housing Development


                      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


                        • Re: Elder Co-housing Development
                          nice links, Jkom.  didn't know about the lutheran bldg's.   the bay area is looking to expensive for us, so we'll probably have to move out to move up, which is ok.  It seems to be hard to find like minded people projecting out a few years, but since there's time, it should be doable.  Seems like if you keep it under 10 people, a lot of complexity can be avoided, but maybe not....the good thing about the lutheran sites is that I could probably get a job there.
                    • Re: Elder Co-housing Development


                      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.