46 Replies Latest reply on Feb 28, 2014 3:28 PM by char_r

    Group housing for boomers

      Familiar with living in a co-ed group house as college student?   Yes, benefits and drawbacks.   But we are older and wiser now (yeah!).  Better able to manage and minimize the drawbacks of group living arrangements.  We can take advantage of the leverage of sharing expenses to significantly upgrade lifestyle and amenities.   

      My goal is not the same as co-housing, which involves owning and residing in your own home (SF or condo) in a small development that plans for certain shared activities.

      I'm talking about being able to purchase and live in a more luxurious space that you could not afford ( or choose not to invest a big chunk of money ) on your own. 

      The key to success of this type of arrangement is a manageable small group (4-8?) of financially and psychologically stable folks who share the same vision and really appreciate this way of life.  Not for everyone, maybe even most people, as it deviates from conventional notions of older emptynesters who want to live in a warm climate, preferably near a golf course, shopping and cultural attractions.  

      Seems best suited to those who are seeking creative and productive solitude (not golfing or shopping) in great surroundings, who want freedom from the TOTAL burden of mundane homeowner responsibilities,  for those trying out new career directions, educational and creative ventures, or extensive traveling, and enjoy  living in rural not urban environments with interesting, responsible, compatible adults.  Want to spend their money on high quality experiential goals amidst very comfortable surroundings.

      This arrangement is designed to maximize individual freedom and quality of life, not really appropriate for couples raising children (of any age!). That goal would seem to require different arrangements.   An individual or couple would have private space (bedroom, bathroom, maybe study/den) in a spacious home and would have access to common dining, living room, utilities, basements, garages, acreage, etc.   Shared interests could be gardening, cheese making, other activities, that may or may not produce a source of incomes that could be allocated to expenses.

      The home would ideally be owned by each resident under some sort of cooperative legal title with shares changing hands, only this is a single home (albeit larger) not a condo or apt building.  Daily living expenses would be shared, basic rules (meal plans? use of common areas? ) developed, followed, enforced (ugh, the downsides).   Come and go as you please, though, work FT or not.    No ideologies.  The goal is high quality lifestyle that you can't afford on your own.     Living in your sixties like you could when you were twenty-thirty somethings but with a lot more panache!

      If this idea stirs your interest, I'd love to hear from you.   Especially from anyone who may be living in such an arrangement and can provide a reality check or other useful info.

        • Re: Group housing for boomers

          Your post is interesting but rather unclear in its description of what exactly you are suggesting. Are you proposing that everyone is pooling their money, in equal or unequal shares? How precisely is this "No Maintenance" achieved? I have yet to encounter a larger home, especially the classic older buildings, that did not require a great deal of expensive maintenance. How do you propose to handle increasing physical disability, especially for those who cannot, either temporarily or permanently, handle stairs? Very few large old homes include universal design principles. Even using a walker can be a tremendous problem with narrow hallways and small bathrooms (ask me how I know that, LOL).

          Most importantly, how would people financially disengage from such communal living once full-time 24-hr care is needed and they must leave the group? There are significant reasons why housing options such as Tenants-in-Common, for example, have not worked financially well at all in the San Francisco Bay Area. People who bought into such residences have found with the downturn in the RE market they are stuck with virtually unsaleable properties, with banks increasingly unwilling to loan to new sellers. In fact, how would you handle titling property with multiple owners to begin with? A land trust?  Mortgage interest and insurance would be considerably higher than SFH or condos, of course, along with ongoing legal fees to handle issues as they arise.

          I have yet to see any evidence that Boomers are more adept at compromise as they age. If anything, we are even less willing to compromise on lifestyle than our parents are. My DH and I recently returned from an Exploritas trip and it was interesting that you could have differentiated the Boomers from their parents just by reading a list of what they did in their free time. It was a clear schism; the Boomers opted for expensive, indulgent activities whereas all the older travelers either shopped or went to museums, then ate cheap dinners. We spend our money very differently, on average.

          I think your idea is good, I just don't see enough details to be able to analyze the true pros/cons. There are certainly people who would be interested in the idea - it's just a question of whether you could actually produce a good business plan to pull it off. Because it IS a business, make no mistake about it. You may not be in it to make money, but nobody is going to be willing to lose most of what they put in. There has to be more of an upside than the vague goals of 'comfort' and 'compatibility'.

            • Re: Group housing for boomers
              Hi, Thanks for your thought-provoking comments.  I will send another reply and respond to each of the excellent issues that you raise. 

              Right now let me just say that my idea is simply to spread the burden of the costs of comfortable living across a small group of like-minded folks who are willing to trade off tsolo ownership for shared ownership and responsibilities.   Only the costs of living will be shared.  No income pooling etc.  This is not a commune.  No one is responsible for anyone else.  Just shared living space and shared responsibility for maintaining that living space and being a responsible and reasonably pleasant housemate.  Housemates go their own ways and have the internal and financial resources to do this.  The goal is not really building relationships or expectations of interpersonal relationships in the house, although that might happen.    The fundamental idea is spreading costs and power in exchange for comfort and freedom.    

              Legal ownership structure can be devised by competent attorney.    But this is not for anyone thinking about sinking in a lot of money, or thinking about any return on their "investment."    This is a alternative model for living that deviates from the SFH that I don't think works so well for lots of people, but is nevertheless the American dream.  Well, not surprisingly, if you can sell lots of units (e.g. SFHs and all the fixins) of anything that's good for the seller, but not for the buyer, who may be better off sharing the costs of a necessary resource.    So long as one is capable of sharing.   Not an easy concept I admit, especially the sharing of power, but worth cultivating if the benefits materialize.    This idea is likely to appeal to the INTJs (Myers-Briggs personality analysis) of the world--introverts!      More to come. 
            • Re: Group housing for boomers
              I am interested in this idea and have been for some time. It's kind of the "Golden Girls" concept--- share a nice, larger home with compatiblel people who share the same values.  I am 52 and still working at The University of Iowa.  I am beginning to envision this arrangement for my retirement or perhaps sooner. I'm not sure about a rural setting but would consider it. I do not like to shop or play golf! I like to read and sew and paint furniture, hike and garden.  Lois
                • Re: Group housing for boomers
                  Just read your response to the other blogger. My Myers-Briggs is INFJ.
                  • Re: Group housing for boomers
                    Hi Lois,

                    Thanks for your Reply.  Glad you are interested.  Let's keep in touch about this and exchange info and thoughts.    I have not had many responses and I am kind of surprised.   

                    I live near Wash DC, but considering moving out to a more rural environment closer to Baltimore to carry out this housing idea.  But would remain within about 30 minutes of either major location.  So only "rural" relatively speaking.   

                    My idea would be a "farmette" type housing situation.  Newer,  larger, nice amenities home with room for gardening and a small barn (I am an animal lover and it would be great for dogs, horses, goats, chickens, etc), and just a few acres.   Both genders and couples/singles would make a nice mix.   

                    Shared ownership arrangements might be similar to that for cooperative housing typically for apartment buildings.  I haven't talked to a lawyer yet though.   So ownership could be transferable and maybe via some arrangement that remaining owners somehow pick up the share so no one feels boxed in and could leave without having to find someone to buy their share.   But not an investment vehicle. 

                    Anyway, look forward to hearing from you. 


                      • Re: Group housing for boomers

                        Perhaps we can share information and ideas. I found a good article about a shared housing project in Brooklyn. I will send the link.  (can't right now)

                        Let's stay in touch.  This is definitely do-able.  I believe we are on the cusp of a new movement, as well. This will not be a radical concept in a few years' time. 

                        I am involved in the lives of my aging parents (now in their late 80s)  so I am also looking into the future to the declining years.  It seems to me that rather than the seniors going to the services, the services could come to the seniors.  In a cooperative arrangement, people could pool resources and hire light housekeeping help, nurse's aides, and the like.  Assisted living is so alienating and expensive. As an individual loses independence, he/she would find it necessary to move to a facilty offering a different level of care, but one can remain independent and in one's home longer in a shared housing setting. 


                        • Re: Group housing for boomers
                          I, too, am an INTJ and this concept has always interested me. I do think there would be challenges, but I could also see it working well with a compatible group who shared interests. My retirement will not be as well-funded as I would like it to be and I yearn for a small farm type setting where I can garden, train dogs, have some chickens and perhaps other livestock, which I doubt I will be able to afford. As a single woman with no children, I also think that there is a level of security in this type of arrangement, where someone will usually be around to notice if you are ill or hurt. I'm surprised at the limited response and interest in this. I'm planning my retirement in another 3-4 years and am saving as much as I can now to try and be able to afford this dream by myself, but it would work much better as a shared endeavor, at least financially.
                            • Re: Group housing for boomers
                              Aimee, where are you located? Have you checked to see whether there are any "Golden Girls" organizations in your area?
                              I'm an INTJ myself, and my background and aspirations are similar to yours (only I'd like the time to do research and teach in lieu of raising livestock).
                              This is how networks begin . . .
                                • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                  I'm in southwest Virginia, near Abingdon. There is a group in Abingdon called ElderSpirit that is similar to this model, with a group in a community of apartments and townhouses. I've thought about it, but really would like more personal space than that environment allows. I have several single female friends from a few to ten or so years older than me and we do have a sort of loose affiliation with each other to help when necessary.
                                  Teaching is also something I'd like to do in retirement. I'm in educational administration now and have taught ESL and literacy and thoroughly enjoyed it.
                                  Thanks for responding.
                            • Re: Group housing for boomers
                              I just retired from UIHC two weeks ago.
                            • Re: Group housing for boomers
                              I'm very interested in your ideas.  There's just one thing missing from just about anything along these lines:  end-of-life issues.  If I'm going to move into any situation at this stage of life, I want to be in a place where I can eventually die, and also have some money left in my estate when it's all over.  If there were some creative model that could encompass your ideas and my concerns, I'd be there!
                                • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                  Hi RetireGreen,

                                  Thanks for your comments

                                  You raise a good point.  

                                  My thoughts about a model for end of life care would be as follows.   Adopt the same group model.  And have the group of folks who will be receiving the care be in charge of designing the care and the environs, although realistically this might mean in concert with relatives or, perhaps better,  with the services of  those knowledgeable about these issues, who would receive a fee for their services.  Or we educate ourselves about what will be necessary.  

                                  The point is to take these matters of living arrangements into our own hands, find out what we need to know, make it happen,  and do it in coordination with others similarly situated to spread costs.  

                                  Assuming that a group of boomers works out a great living arrangement, they could put in place an end of life model when the time comes. 

                                  I would be interested to know what barriers are likely to pop up, other than getting along.  No easy task there but given reasonable psychological maturity of residents, physical space, privacy, and financial soundness, good prospects of working out well. 

                                  Let me know your thoughts on this.    

                                    • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                      Boy, it's hard to know where to start.  There are certainly complex issues involved.  I have been involved in intentional communities (in my earlier years) and co-housing (much more recently).  Presently, I'm on the wait list for two "lifecare" retirement communities.  I've been waiting for some brilliant boomer(s) to come along and create a model that puts it all together.  Maybe that's us!  But where to start?  The "lifecare" model offers some hope of preserving a person's estate, and that holds great appeal for me.  All the other possible issues seem a little like small potatoes to me.
                                      • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                        Hi sms111,

                                        I totally agree about taking matters into our own hands and making it happen.

                                        Those end-of-life issues, along with the financial arrangement for same, to me seem by far the biggest barrier.

                                        When I was involved in a discussion group for a few people interested in developing a sustainable community, the first big issue that came up was "where".  We didn't get any farther than that.

                                        Many barriers that might come up have been dealt with before and could be hired out to persons with expertise.  

                                        I hate to sound like a broken record, but it's those end-of-life care issues that haven't been dealt with by people wanting to take matters into their own hands.  Therefore, there is no expertise to be found.  This is new territory.

                                        Two questions:
                                        1.  Are you thinking of a group situation where folks can stay until they die?
                                        2.  Are you familiar with the "lifecare" model of retirement community?

                                        I'd like to come up with a small-scale, private "lifecare" community, where we would design our own care and environs--as you said.

                                        Finally, I clearly am not a blogger--or whatever this is that we are doing.  I don't know how to get around on this site and am not even sure how I found this message that you posted yesterday afternoon at 4:42.  I'm afraid once I send this reply, I'll lose the "thread" again!

                                        I'm enthusiastic about our discussion and hope it will continue.  I've been thinking about these issues for years.
                                          • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                            Thanks for your comments.

                                            I think the biggest hurdle is the concept of unrelated, older adults sharing a home.  A large, nice home and all the accessories and all the expenses.  Under some type of creative, legal arrangement where members buy shares that are freely transferable, that maybe increase in value over time ( a plus, not a must).

                                            This arrangement though is what makes a higher quality life style and reduced cost of that lifestyle possible.     

                                            Yes, compatibility is necessary.  But the motivation to do what it takes to remain compatible with a small group of previously screened folks (this would be a private living arrangement, I don't know what the legalities are)  is access to a life style that you could not afford otherwise.   There are numerous benefits, not just financial , of living with others.  

                                            I've read some about the Intentional Communities but they are promoted by developers still looking to sell single family homes and its this life style that's the cost drain because everybody has to buy one of everything!   

                                              • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                I am just getting back to this list after not posting or reading for a very long time, and find the comments here interesting.  As an already-retired single woman I have behind me a lot of research on where and how to live.  I've been part of three different groups discussing co-housing and none have gotten off the ground.  Recently, I've been looking for a house-share arrangement, but the three I've gone to look at weren't appropriate, either because of being upstairs or other limitations in the building or the owner's expectations.  I've also been looking at life care/continuing care retirement facilities and found one I like, a Kendal community, in the Philadelphia/Wilmington area.  I expect to enter in about two years, when I'll still be on the young side (average age is 77 for admission, 84 over all) and will have to begin using my nest egg for expenses, but I am tired of searching and worrying about getting into a living arrangement that isn't sustainable. 
                                                I've decided that there is great opportunity for someone who wants to create housing for elders that is affordable, eco-friendly, and supportive of an active lifestyle.  I just wished I'd understood that 15-20 years ago and I could have worked on it!
                                                  • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                    I read with interest Cori's comments regarding group housing and have also been on the lookout for alternative housing that would allow me privacy, security, and other attributes living in a contributing or cooperative group setting.  I have not found anything closely approaching a facility that I would consider.  Being 70 and in good health, I like many others I believe, are not looking forward to increasing problems maintaining a private residence plus the increase in support services needed.  I do not want give up things such as an area for my hobbies/ workshop, storage for larger things such as a bicycle, kayak or small boat, or even having space for a small garden.    I have read of people in a similar time of life joining together to build small communities with such amenities plus room for other pursuits and needs that the group determines they want and as they age will contribute to hiring or employing people for common food preparation, transportation for appointments, shopping, medical visits, etc. as needed by the group.  I would be very interested if anyone has knowledge of such communities or facilities if only to find out how they were started and managed.
                                                • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                  I've just joined the forum and am still exploring.  A helpful website for you may be www.secondjourney.org  They run seminars on preparing for the second half of life.  I've never participated but hope to in the future.  (Perhaps TIAA-CREF would sponsor a virtual one?)  They have a resource guide that includes a lot of information on creating community in later life, including cohousing/intentional housing.  I, too, am very interested in living in a green community and am fascinated with very small houses but believe I'd be happiest  in a setting with either many of these houses adjacent to a larger community building, or, better, a complex with apartments or condo units in attached buildings. The continuum of care facilities around here are good, but they are pricey and mostly geographically isolated. I would prefer a multigenerational arrangement within walking/biking distance of shopping, library, etc., if I can find it.

                                                  I've also spent a lot of time the last 10 years researching green building and worked with contractors to be as green as possible in remodeling my house in CT before I sold it and moved to PA.

                                                  Where are you located?
                                                • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                  I have been thinking about this concept for years.  I had almost convinced myself that I was completely alone.  If nothing else, this is reassuring.  I don't believe that I have anywhere close to all the answers, but I do have a lot of questions!

                                                  My general concept incorporates a central core that would contain kitchen facilities, entertainment/recreation and dining.  Branching off from the core would be satellites, essentially, apartments or pods that would contain ADA type bath, bedroom and a small sitting area with micro-kitchen facilities for private or small group activities.  Depending on climate these facilities for couples or individuals could be physically connected to the core.  My vision has been for a very small community of friends, say six to eight individuals or couples.

                                                  Anyway, that's the basics of what I have cooked up in my mind.  I suppose you could enlarge the whole concept by adding a series of cores to form a larger community.  I guess the advantage of that would be greater overall diversity and the possibility of sharing transportation, etc.

                                              • Re: Group housing for boomers


                                                I just joined this forum and am interested in the concept you describe.  One of the keys to success would be living with compatible people.  Imagine having a chronic complainer in the house!  You'd have to have some kind of screening process in place (would that be legal?) because  you'd be living with that person for years.  I like the idea of sustainability too - can we live in a way that reduces our consumption of natural resources?  Use geothermal heating/cooling? Grow our own food?  Use native plans in the landscape, etc.?  Check out Prairie Crossings in northern Illinois.  I like a lot of what they do (except for the costly homes and high taxes).


                                                    • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                      That was a "yes" to Green Thumb.  Sorry I just haven't quite got this type of communication down yet.  I thought I was responding only to Green Thumb.
                                                        • Re: Group housing for boomers

                                                          FYI, this is not a blog. A blog is a personal website set up in narrative form by the blogger. Only the blogger can post new items; others can only read. This is a limited public discussion forum (limited to TIAA-CREF members; anyone can post after becoming a participant).

                                                          We have started to investigate some of the many senior living options available in our metropolitan area. Although we are young retirees, my 82-yr old MIL lives with us so it is never too early to find out what's available for various levels of senior housing.

                                                          To me group housing has the same attractions but same pitfalls as commune living. You will never get a perfect group of people who all have the same likes and dislikes. Even if you did manage it, simply with age and disability the group will fracture eventually.

                                                          The biggest obstacles are legal and financial. How would people buy in? How would group expenses - liability insurance, maintenance, etc. - be split? If someone wants to leave, how do they recoup their investment? If they die, how do the heirs determine the worth and saleability of the deceased's estate? If the group has to defend itself against a lawsuit, are the individuals ready and able to pay a heavy assessment amount if the judgment goes against the group? - if anyone is unable to pay, their portion would have to be paid by the others; there is no escaping a legal judgment with "oh, John Smith couldn't pay his portion, but we paid ours so that's all you get!" Nope, doesn't work that way, sorry.

                                                          Who is going to organize the palliative care and end of life issues? As families have found, eldercare is a maze of county, state, and federal agencies/regulations. Budgets collapse; care levels get cut, turnover is rampant. It takes hours and hours of work, along with constant vigilance, to ensure good quality eldercare. No one should be expected to volunteer for such work; it's a heavy burden even in the best of situations. It's a job that deserves a wage - who is going to pay for it?

                                                          I would think such approval would need to be unanimous. But I have never seen any group come to unanimous agreement on a variety of subjects, over time. Expecting people of different backgrounds, interests, and finances to agree upon such issues as debt, liability, taxation, and risk management might be unrealistic. By nature people gravitate to what they are interested in. So you could divide up duties - but what happens if that person makes a really wrong guess, and gets the group into legal or financial difficulties? Is everyone going to just forgive them, and be willing to pay to rectify the mistake?

                                                          If someone has allowed their legal documents to become out of date then palliative care can be a nightmare. You'd have to go to court to be appointed agent, and if you're not a blood relative, don't expect such approval to be automatic. It won't matter if you're best friends; family will win out over non-family every time, unless you are willing to spend $$$ for a court fight. Is the group willing to pay someone to assume the duties of a geriatric care manager and legal agent?

                                                          In the end, this is a business idea - a non-profit business, but still a business. Any time you are co-joining money, you must consider what the business is going to do if something starts to go wrong with the business founders. I would not personally invest in any business where I could not at least get some of my principal returned upon demand, or at least a guarantee of legal obligation for future services in return for my money. I would not invest in anything where any important legal issues were not addressed in writing.

                                                          I like my friends, but they do not have fiduciary duty to me. They are not obligated to act in my best interests, so I should not expect them to act contrary to their own best interests. Financial and estate planning needs to take into consideration not only what you want done, but who you want to do it. Sometimes people select an agent who either is unaware of what the patient really wants, or who is emotionally incapable of fulfilling the patient's wishes.

                                                          Either way, such issues have to be planned for. Co-mingling financial and legal assets in a group adds a large element of complexity to such planning, so those who are interested in group housing, need to plan very carefully for a wide variety of scenarios. People do not always approach death consistently; what they say they want, may be very different from what they actually decide to do, when faced with a more imminent Grim Reaper.

                                                            • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                              The discussion of endoflife issues is very complicated because of the emotionally charged nature. Answers are probably very simple and in many cases impossible! All we can do is set up care to allow for a long, safe, and hopefully painless life. There are some pieces that I think would fit in and maybe we can get a few others involved as well. I'm involved in the regulation of health care industries-specifically construction of hospitals and nursing homes. I have seen some things that I like and things I haven't. I can tell you that if you can get into a newly built facility you will be far more comfortable. My mother (81) is interested in planning a retirement co-op that would allow for a group awareness and a sense of community. I would like to plan a group community that could share the costs of an efficiently run air conditioning system. An air chiller for example is not practical for an average home but is extremely practical for larger buildings. Energy savings for the air handling system can represent a huge amount of money over time. If people are interested we can discuss other practical ways of providing economical alternatives to the corner nursing home. 
                                                                • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                  Hi All,

                                                                  When I first posted about group living for boomers I did not have end of life care issues in mind.   EOL issues do pose lots of really difficult issues.

                                                                  My thoughts were about figuring out how healthy, ambulatory older adults (about 55 to 70 range) could live comfortably and congenially in ONE HOUSE.   Like the iconic group house of college days.  Maybe would require an owner with others renting.    But I think a cooperative ownership structure might work.   Flexible, move in and move out.     Young people do this all the time.    Why not Boomers?  Why not scoop up one of those McMansions in foreclosure to do this?      
                                                                    • Re: Group housing for boomers

                                                                      >.But I think a cooperative ownership structure might work.   Flexible, move in and move out.     Young people do this all the time.    Why not Boomers?  Why not scoop up one of those McMansions in foreclosure to do this?       >>

                                                                      Actually, if you have ever investigated any RE market where co-op housing operates, you will find it is far from flexible. Co-op or Tenant-in-Common housing is not an easy thing to manage, especially long term. Young people 'do this all the time'??? No, they live in dorms owned by a university/college, or they rent from private landlords. When a friend of mine was looking to buy a house or condo, she looked into a TIC. The building was beautiful, but even the RE agent admitted the appreciation was poorer than a SFH or standard condo. Banks do not like to make these kinds of loans any longer; you will pay a much higher mortgage rate.

                                                                      If you want to be a landlord, that's fine. Be aware that many 'McMansions' happen to be in developments with restrictive HOAs that are not especially rent-friendly. You certainly do not want to put multiple people on the title, as the 'step-up' basis is lost upon death of any person listed, which makes it a very poor investment.

                                                                      For instance, a McMansion almost always has stairs to the bedrooms. What if someone moves in, then develops mobility problems two years later? Does that mean they automatically get the first floor master suite? What happens to the next person with issues? Who's going to pay $30K plus remodeling fees to install the elevator?

                                                                      I don't mean to sound so discouraging. But people seem to think this is easy, and it really isn't. There are substantial legal and financial issues needing attention, even if you're not going to consider EOL issues. And if you're not - what do you intend to do if someone in this group housing does face emergency EOL/palliative care issues? Do they have to leave? Who buys them out?

                                                                      As retirees who are struggling in the wake of market chaos have found, a plan is only worthwhile if you have thought of all the things that can go wrong and probably will. Group housing is a good idea, but it needs a thoughtful, integrated, careful, and thorough amount of planning to make it work. The deck is stacked against it, so to succeed will take hard work and intensive planning. Good luck and success to all of you; nothing is impossible if you are willing to put the effort into it!

                                                                      • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                        Interesting thoughts-enjoyed reading the responses.
                                                                        I am 74 ---  healthy and active; I travel much and have been 
                                                                        able to locate other like minded folks-who are interested in this type living concept as well.  I have few solutions but am interested in exploring this concept.  
                                                                        Our group lives on the same property-(3 acres) each having private space and common area; each has private entrance and deck. It is privately owned but each party has responsibilities to making the environment more pleasant. It is situation with mixed gender-with ages from 59 (male) to 74.  There are 3 of us at the moment.  We have common laundry area and a common kitchen/dining and entertaining for large groups-each of us has a small sitting room for small groups.  We enjoy and manage to have a wonderful place to live-but have the freedom to travel and to enjoy our lives together or separately.  We come and go -- almost always having at least one
                                                                        of us on the property.
                                                                        None of us could afford to do this without this living situation.
                                                                        Bartering has been our answer to some difficulties: we garden, we cook, do repairs and upkeep on the acreage.  We paint-we decorate and we help each other get to and fro--with appointments, shopping or airport runs.
                                                                        Each has skills and commitment to contribute with those specific skills---that go into to making this a more pleasant living situation.
                                                                        What has made this situation work is the RESPECT that we each have for the other as well as common basic (core)  life values/work ethic that we share.
                                                                        We KNOW that we can depend on each other.  We don't have a plan for WHEN that day will come that one can no longer be a 
                                                                        contributing part of this community living situation. (probably being me)         
                                                                        This situation has worked for us--although we never know what the future brings and we need to evaluate our future needs.
                                                                         We have discussed that aspect (no real solutions yet) and therefore we are interested in this forum.
                                                                        Thank you for initiating the conversation. 
                                                                          • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                            Hi nindethana,
                                                                            Your group living sounds wonderful.  I would like to know more about the property management. 3 acres for the group of 3 now, do you have individual houses or individual suits in a big building or house?  How is the ownership arranged?
                                                                            I believe that all of you are good friends, respect and take care of each other.  
                                                                            Your experience of happy group living is very valuable to many of us who are interested in learning this new life arrangement. 
                                                                          • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                            Anyone in a foreign situation of similar scope?
                                                                            I don't want any other situation here in U.S, but would be  interested in a "community'" in Mexico, or elsewhere that exists.
                                                                            • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                              Stephanie, I like the idea of scooping up a McMansion for this purpose, and I don't think the shared ownership issue is much of a problem (other basics--such as emotionally stable, financially responsible co-owners--being in place), though I'd prefer a "Golden Girls" arrangement where the housemates really are friends to a mixed environment (couples, singles, co-ed) or a shared community (on the order of a retirement village, with multiple stand-alone units). The shares of the mortgage can be based on percentage of home-space (square footage) occupied solely by that resident, as I said earlier; I'm not sure how it works from a tax standpoint, but there's precedent for that too (remember POSSLQs?) and I'm sure any decent tax accountant could tell us. I'm not as pessimistic as some of the other posters here, because I think that people who genuinely care about one another (as opposed to--boarder-like--simply sharing the same address, or viewing one another at arm's length, as business partners) will find ways to work out what happens if one of them becomes disabled, or needs extensive care. (Alternatively, what happens if one of them meets someone, and decides to get married?) You cope. No one can plan for all of the "eventualities," except to recognize that they can and will occur.

                                                                              Nindethana's group seems to be handling those inevitabilities quite admirably, and I like the environment she describes. Perhaps she could tell us a little more about the home itself, and how it was acquired, as well as how her group went about setting up its living arrangements. 
                                                                              Best to all,
                                                                              • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                                I have posted once before regarding the issue of seniors "sharing" living arrangements.  I am 76 and have engaged in this sort of arrangement for over 13 years with what I consider a high success situation.  This sort of arrangement does NOT address EOL.  It only addresses a solution to 
                                                                                being of ambulatory abilities; senior age, having reduced family ties or responsibilities; divorced/widowed situations; retirement but wanting to spend less on living expenses but to have some communal interaction in a pleasant environment in a home---not apartment building.  (it is more than a college dorm feel) it really becomes a family unit.  It also has enabled me to maintain a large home with amenities over the years when my income has been reduced/and when out of state family members have needed my help.  (I am very fortunate to have the property near a large reservoir with out door recreational activities available to our neighborhood-also near university with free or low cost activities for seniors and hiking/biking trails within walking distance).  
                                                                                 My arrangement only involves individuals who are in the last years of employment or retired or retired and returning to education for a post retirement career/interests.  We "share" a large home on 3 acres near a small town with university.  There is one owner (I own the property) and the property is located in an area limiting personal dwellings to no more than 4 unrelated people.  Usually a variety of ages-has worked--anywhere from 50 - up..  YES, it may be considered a highly organized "housemate" situation--but it works.  
                                                                                There is an elaborate interview process with specific questions and "bottom line" commonalities being discussed.  A visit to the present living situation of the new person is often very revealing.  Basic values and life beliefs are foremost in commonalities. We are very CLEAR about our basis "bottom line" thinking. We are a non-smoking/no drug use/environmental aware/leave small footprint/quiet organic gardening/almost vegetarian/health focused/exercise/energy efficient oriented environment. It seems vital that each person BUYS into this style of living.  All members of the household have input if we receive a new member to our home.  In the last 13 years several who moved-found a way to purchase their own property and did so.  
                                                                                We  agree that communication regarding meal guests or overnight guests are discussed with all members of the household prior to the guest arriving giving others time to plan if needed/wanted and invitation is usually extended to all members of the house --- but not always. 
                                                                                We agree on a large party-get together for the entire household--with friends of all parties being invited -- sometimes having 50-75 guests ALL at one big get-together once a year usually during summer or at a major holiday-New Year's Day.  We recognize/celebrate birthdays together as a household-usually with a meal/or night out.  
                                                                                Compatibility/living with mutual respect and communication always has been the KEY to success.  Each person has a private area with bedroom, sitting room and bath and each person can have a small refrigerator & microwave in private area.  There is a large kitchen, dining and living room area that is common.
                                                                                There is also a sunroom-that may be shared for crafts/art projects or small group gatherings-almost sound proof to the rest of house-music can be played- and also a TV/den area where small groups can have privacy if needed. There is no TV in the common area.  There are 3 decks and each designated for private outdoor gatherings.  
                                                                                Defining various roles and responsibilities of each member of the household is also extremely important.  What we have found successful is to define duties and have a pay back plan (reduction of next month's payment) according to the duties being performed. This work back plan can be individually agreed upon with each household member and can be limited to a specific percent of the total monthly payment. The duties are evaluated depending on the needs of the household.  If a person decides he/she wants to pay the full amount-then those assigned duties can be hired to be taken care of--so the option allows for great discounts in monthly payment.  
                                                                                Since we live on 3 acres we can have a garden both flowers and food growing.  Usually our success has been greatest with one male who likes/able to help with the mundane upkeep of yard and small repairs inside; a female who enjoys keeping the house clean/organized and being in charge of the garden while as the owner I take care of paying the bills and major upkeep and basic improvements to make all more comfortable.
                                                                                Usually we find that one person really likes to cook meals once a week or so for all household with others contributing financially or pot luck.  It helps to have a person who has had medical or caregiving skills/experience. It seems important for each person to have responsibilities and to feel needed and depended on for those specific duties/skills/interests. 
                                                                                We found that 3 people is more successful than having the allowed 4 people.   
                                                                                Another key to the success of our household is that our members all love to travel and are at a stage where they have the ability to do so-time and financially.  Having people GO away-"makes the heart grow fonder" and it is always a pleasure to get together to hear about the travels of that person upon their return. Having fewer household members also gives the "stay at home" persons to have out of town guests or overnight guests with a more private time..
                                                                                 We operate as a family: we email/discuss with all household members if we will be away overnight or for extended period of time; we coordinate vehicles in case of emergencies, support each other in times of rides to airport or public transport etc./emergencies.  We have a "house meeting" or community dinner about once monthly to discuss any issues regarding property/concerns.   
                                                                                Over the years we have had the same population remaining for more than 10 years and actually had more than one family member join our group. We are still in touch with those who have "come and gone" and always invite the former "family" members to our yearly summer gathering.  
                                                                                I do hope this account of our living arrangement for seniors can help others who have need to make a change.  I am truly interested in moving more into providing for more advanced aging needs as I am certainly entering that category.  I am interested in how other single females handle prolonging living independently in ones on home.  I have no living members of the "next" generation in my family therefore "I am strictly on my own".. 
                                                                            • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                              Gee, I just got off the phone with a friend and we were lightly talking about living out our years together in her large house. I would rent out or sell my condo. Maybe get another "roomate " or two, and then add on a little studio for our later years of having our own nurse live in the home with us. If any of us should marry, then we would continue on in an intentional household. I do love the idea of community, especially as we share a deep faith. I am not sure I like the unknown amount of freedom I will give up to make the community function.

                                                                              I wonder if the complicating factors would not be problematic if there was one "owner" who was responsible for decisions and rules and finances of all kinds. There could be an issue of maintaining individual autonomy....!  I am reallly wondering what you think of the idea of it being legally and financially held by one party and all other agreeing parties would abide by preset agreements/code.  It seems to me it could work, with a deep commonality such as faith, where a large part of the deal is mutual sacrifice and submission to one another in things big and small. We do not have to like each other (it would be much easier if we did) but we must respect and love one another.
                                                                                • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                                  Hi! This discussion is very interesting. One idea that might be a beginning concept is that one person or a corporation owns land and small units are built on that land that people buy into. The corporation has first right of buy back when you are ready to move or when you pass on. That way the units stay with the property. Unit owners wouldn't plan on making money on the sale of the unit but would own it. These units would be built with modest amenities so they would be affordable in an area were realestate is inexpensive but close to a good town with library, etc. I don't know. I am sure there are many complexities. It sounds a lot like a condo except you would have a shared "living space" which might include garage, storage, living room,community garden, etc. It would be non-profit. Having worked at a college for years, my husband and I built our house on property that we purchased for a very modest price. They had first right of buy back so when we leaft the area the house was appraised and we sold it to the college and were refunded the original price we paid for the land. We sold at a "down" time so we lost a bit on the house but the outcome was satifactory. So I don't know who would be the corporation who would do this but just a brain storm session!!
                                                                                  • Re: Group housing for boomers

                                                                                    WOW- you and I are thinking about exactly the same issues--- I've also recently been reading a set of novels about a similar theme-- 'The Ladies of Covington'.  Of course, everything does usually work out in books.

                                                                                    Best of luck-


                                                                                      • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                                        Yes, I like this idea a lot and have actually been thinking about it for many years -- long before I turned 64 last June.  There are plenty of resources to help in conceptualizing, designing and implementing such a collective housing project at the "Intentional Communities" website:  http://www.ic.org/
                                                                                          • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                                            There is a very nice residential unit here in NW AR that focuses on older people. You purchase and can move to more assisted care as you age. Residents have kitchen facilities, I believe, but there are sit down, table cloth meals. You can have a car or use their transportation. I believe that there is residual value when you pass on. Several churches run it as I understand but I haven't heard that there is any oppressive religious overtones from specific denominations. These places are not cheap but may be just right for certain people. I would think that they also avoid isolating people like a single family unit might.
                                                                                        • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                                          I like this idea alot.  Group housing has a lot of potential benefits - not being alone if you don't want to be alone (I don't), a more affordable lifestyle, perhaps a safer lifestyle.  This is something I would definitely consider as I get closer to retirement.
                                                                                • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                                  Funny, I wrote a blog on this subject that TIAA-CREF pared down so ruthlessly as to make it meaningless (from a few pages to a paragraph or to)--so I withdrew permission to publish it. Nonetheless, I have been investigating this same idea--house-sharing as opposed to cooperative living in a group-developed community or being a boarder or whatnot--the Golden Girls concept of mutually compatible women of similar age banding together to pool their resources and maintain their individuality. It differs significantly from the dorm-room set up in that (1) the partners are carefully chosen, not third-party assigned; (2) you get to know one another and your respective lifestyles (and quirks) before you make a commitment; (3) you co-own the property, which, as you say, is larger than anything any of you individually can afford/want to take care of alone; and (4) it isn't for a semester or two . . . it's (theoretically anyway) a long-term commitment with a binding legal contract at its base. There are a number of formal groups of women already doing and investigating this concept, and I am excited by the idea--because it solves a number of the problems that boomer women face when they find themselves alone.
                                                                                  Being alone is not the same as being lonely, as any woman who likes her own company and has a schedule that affords her little time for socializing can tell you. But when you find yourself without any nearby relatives or friends in a place that you live in only because it's safe and relatively near your employment, you miss the things that most people have: someone to greet them when they come home (or worry about where they are, if they don't), someone with whom to do things like go out to dinner or see a movie, someone who's willing to pick up the slack for you when you're sick (or pick up some medication), someone to be a companion and friend--as the "Golden Girls" theme said, "a pal and a confidante."
                                                                                  I'm not really sure where I'd like to do this, yet (somewhere in the northeast, preferably in a suburban or rural area that isn't too far from the social amenities and a decent university library, I think--and preferably not too far from the ocean). But some of the online sites offer helpful suggestions for framing your thoughts on the subject (Google "housemates" or "Golden Girls"), especially in relation to the kind of accommodations you'll need and to fit your personal style and preferences, and the things you consider most important in those with whom you would consider sharing a home. I liked a concept that said you contribute according to your personal share of the total square footage--I'd need a bedroom, a full bath, and enough space for a library/office, for example, where someone else might only need a bed and bath. I'd want more than strangers-sharing-the-same-roof, but I also need some personal space and people who would be capable of respecting that without feeling rejected or insulted (I write and have a very stressful job, so sometimes I value solitude).
                                                                                  I'd really be interested in hearing what others have to say along these lines. I haven't read this full thread yet--but I will!
                                                                                  Meanwhile, I'll be happy to exchange ideas with anyone whose aspirations sound at all like mine.
                                                                                  All best,
                                                                                    • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                                      I like the Golden Girls idea. A group is just forming here in our small New Mexican city -- women of a Certain Age who have lost or never had a husband or partner. We all have our own homes (some even manage their own ranches), but we realize that social contacts are more difficult as we age, and that single women are often excluded from that couple-centered world we live in. And we are all aware that if something happened to one of us at home, we could be faced with lying on the floor for days before someone realizes we are around.
                                                                                      We are looking for ways to offer help to one another -- rides to the Big City, potluck dinners, or help with the burden of health care or just cat-sitting. Ways to feel that there are others close by.

                                                                                      We are trying to work out a way to network while staying independent for as long as possible. Does anyone have experience with using social media for keeping in touch with a generation unused to Facebook? Any ideas? An earlier generation would have quilting bees and family reunions. We've gotten out of practice with keeping touch.
                                                                                    • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                                      Families used to live this way.  Moms, dads, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and children all under the same roof, each with his/her own room in a gigantic house. For children, this was a very happy way to live..always someone to run to if mom and dad were not available.
                                                                                      Cooking and family meals were a nightly event.

                                                                                      In Oregon, I've heard of a similar co-op for retired people where each has his/her own little house and eating is communal as is a vegetable garden.

                                                                                      The problem today is that everyone is so independent and no one eats meals at the same time.  This is why there are senior 55 and up communities where you can buy a small house  and use communal facilities.  But for one house to be shared by unrelated people is a bit "sticky" when it comes to chores and finances.  Always seems one person gets stuck with all the work and getting roommates to pay their share isn't easy.

                                                                                      I wish you good luck.  The idea is wonderful.  When I was young in Berkeley, there were lots of communes...actually a bunch of friends rented a house and all shared it.  As grown ups, not sure that would work anymore. 

                                                                                      • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                                        All of the housing on Long Island NY for Seniors is so overpriced.
                                                                                        Who wants to take out another mortgage in their Golden years?
                                                                                        Anyone know of any Senior communities like this on Long Island?
                                                                                        • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                                          I have wondered about this but would have to have my own kitchen!  There is a property near me (not for sale) that has a decent sized lot and three cottages instead of one house. There is one large two car garage, a pool, and a gorgeous yard that winds around the property in between the structures.
                                                                                          Only one woman lives there as far as I know, but I have admired it and wondered if something like that would work for me and two or three other seniors as long as each cottage had its own small but well designed kitchen.
                                                                                          One problem would be zoning which might not allow for more than one structure on a lot, but in a more rural setting that might not be an issue.
                                                                                          I'm 61 and hoping to retire soon from a faculty position at a community college in Los Angeles. 
                                                                                            • Re: Group housing for boomers
                                                                                              I think it’s a great concept and others have mentioned some great points. I’ve been to one session on group living in N. England. The aforementioned seemed like a great idea, a home(s) with many acres having your own space and a communal space for whatever. I believe it was well-thought out, with many guidelines. One of the things I didn’t like was that the group seemed highly pretentious and well-to-do. This didn’t seem like a match for me.  
                                                                                              To the person who mentioned Myer-Briggs, I’m supposed to be INTJ, but no one believes me when I tell them I’m an introvert. To the person who mentioned “golf” this is one of my passions. Maybe, in order to proceed a questionnaire would be appropriate along with research on group living.

                                                                                              To alleviate common expenses regarding upkeep, etc. here’s one possibility. Currently I belong to a condo assoc. We pay a condo fee that covers everything external to the condo; possibly, something like this could be arranged that would alleviate issues regarding the home and grounds.

                                                                                              I would definitely like to learn more.