As Boomers age, they may find themselves facing the necessity to change where they live. A good percentage of Boomers claim they want to "age in place," but that isn't always the best or most practical choice. Still, as I've written about in the past, Boomers interested in staying in their current home may be able to do so if they make intelligent modifications to remain safe and secure.
Some Boomers realize, though, that aging in place can be stressful. This is particularly true of individuals who, by circumstance or choice, are living by themselves. At the very least, these folks may need to consider downsizing, if not relocating into a more age-friendly residence. Apartments or condominiums rather than private homes may be attractive options.
Not surprisingly, more and more creative living alternatives are becoming available for Boomers. For some time now, Boomers have been able to take advantage of adult communities. More of them seem to open every day. Whether they're labeled "active adult" (55-plus) or retirement communities, these communities often provide a range of amenities and activities, sometimes including meal service, housekeeping and transportation. Some communities feature rentals while others require property purchase. At the high end, "continuing care" retirement communities may provide a full continuum of care when it is needed, from independent living through assisted living through on-site nursing facilities.
Two of the more novel living alternatives fall somewhere between living independently and being part of a social network:
This concept involves a property in which residents share certain responsibilities. A good example is Phoenix Commons in Oakland, California. Here's how Phoenix Commons describes their environment:
"Cohousing is an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space. Each single family home has traditional amenities, including a private kitchen, while shared spaces may include a large kitchen and dining area, laundry and recreational spaces.
"Cohousing communities are built around separate homes in proximity, with a common house, or in a single structure with a lot of shared common space to complement individual condominium units. Householders in cohousing have independent lives but neighbors collaboratively plan and manage community activities and shared spaces, typically under the structure of a Homeowners’ Association.
"Cohousing groups seek to balance private and community needs while building mutually supportive relationships among their members. Social events, impromptu gatherings, shared meals and scheduled meetings provide ample opportunity for interactions. At Phoenix Commons important community decisions are made using participatory processes that help bring the group toward consensus."
Another creative lifestyle alternative is homesharing, which you might consider cohousing on a much smaller scale. A good example is Silvernest, a homesharing platform. Here's how Silvernest describes homesharing and their service:
"Homesharing is exactly what it sounds like: sharing a home. Silvernest enables homeowners to rent out a room or portion of their home to a qualified housemate (in other words, a renter) of their choosing. The many benefits of homesharing include extra income, companionship, the ability to stay in your home longer, the security of cohabiting, and even help around the house. Silvernest homeowners can offer reduced rent in exchange for home maintenance, cleaning and other around-the house help from their renter.
"Silvernest is a one-stop-shop online homesharing platform that pairs boomers, retirees, empty nesters and other older adults with compatible housemates for long-term rent arrangements. Through these creative living situations, homeowners earn extra income (about $10,000 a year), remain in their homes longer, and keep isolation at bay, while renters pay far less than market rent. Both enjoy companionship and the efficiencies that come with sharing a space."
Cooperative housing and homesharing may not be for everyone, but they are emerging creative ideas addressing the reality that Boomers may need living alternatives other than the traditional ones.
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