The Globe and Mail’s November, 2015 series on Boomers included a feature by Zosia Bielsklon on co-housing entitled “Meet the new Golden Girls (and guys): How boomers are coming up with creative living arrangements.” Here’s an excerpt.
[Boomers] do not want to grow old alone. They want to age well in community, not in a pod in the sky or a rural home on the peripheries. The buzzword is “interdependence:” You want your own space but you also want to know – and to some degree, depend on – your neighbours. These boomers want someone to be there for them before a nurse is needed, which may be a while given their unprecedented health and longevity.
To that end, alternative housing arrangements are popping up all over North America, with a small but determined cohort – many of them single, divorced and widowed – thinking up many of the setups themselves. Harkening back to the communes and co-ops of the boomers’ youth, about a dozen “co-housing” communities have sprouted across Canada, with dozens more in the planning stages. Most consist of small individual apartments or houses with large shared kitchens, dining rooms, terraces and gardens where neighbours willingly interact. For those who want the energy of the young, there are multi-generational communities that welcome families. For others who would rather splurge on yoga mats, elevators and respite suites than on playgrounds, certain developments are reserved for empty-nesters. They are planned, owned and managed by residents, not outsiders.
Those on more of a budget are starting to take up with housemates in shared homes, à la The Golden Girls (and boys). Many are hiring housekeepers to avoid bickering over the chores; when the time comes, many are also planning to bring in caregivers, some of whom might live on-site in special suites.
What the trailblazers of this movement have in common is this: They saw what happened to their parents and do not want it to happen to them. Ferociously independent, boomers are saying “no thanks” to expensive retirement and nursing homes where itineraries are set and staff call the shots.
Ferociously independent or not, it seems we boomers are still (at least to some extent) moving with the herd. I’m okay with that.