How co-housing works and why it’s good for our health as we age

Whether you call it co-housing, shared housing or an intentional community, the conversation about this lifestyle is becoming more active for good reason. The potential benefits are huge and it’s a great way to manage costs in retirement. It deters loneliness, a common problem for seniors. And it’s the perfect way for vibrant, older adults to remain active and engaged in life as they age. But since the concept is not yet mainstream, people are confused about what it is.

You’re in good company if you’ve considered downsizing or an alternative way of living in your later years. The idea of less space and less maintenance is appealing after children have moved away. And we’re still healthy, active people with a lot of life left to live, so a mainstream retirement home isn’t always appealing. That’s why this concept of co-housing is so exciting. It’s another option for older adults who aren’t ready for a 300-unit independent facility with an attached assisted living.

In a co-housing community, tenants typically share certain amenities and areas of the home. The kitchen, dining room and living room are places for community-building, while tenants can also retreat to their private bedroom suite. It’s a lifestyle that offers the perfect balance of privacy and community, especially for boomers who value independence.   

I created Vibrante Living with this vision in mind. I wanted to give four older, active women the opportunity to share a home in the heart of Minneapolis. But co-housing is much more than sharing space. It’s more than renting a room. It’s creating an intentional community. I envision the women living at Vibrante building the kind of friendship and community that will stave off loneliness. I envision the women encouraging each other, well into their later years, to embrace all that life has to offer.  

Co-housing is gaining momentum because we know that daily social interaction comes with health benefits. The loss of a spouse or family and friends moving away can lead to loneliness, but a 2010 AARP study found that social networks ease these feelings. Communities such as Vibrante make it easy to fill your later years with the love, laughter, and togetherness that we crave and that keeps us going long past retirement. Co-housing can be about exploring the world together.

Baby boomers are leading this movement for good reason. We want to stay active in the larger community, not segregated in senior-only housing. Co-housing also gives people the opportunity to stay in sought-after urban locations. There is affordability and security that comes with sharing amenities.  

As you move toward retirement, do you envision yourself surrounded by other like-minded women? Are you an outside of the box thinker, do you lead an active, engaged life?  I’d love to talk with you more about Vibrante Living or other co-housing options that are sure to keep your life big!