For Active Seniors, Co-Housing Offers A Cozier Alternative To Downsizing
The 5-mile hikes, yoga classes and communal dinners are now routines for the residents at PDX Commons Cohousing in Portland, Ore. These 39 individuals (about half partnered but largely strangers at first) started forging relationships well before they moved in late this summer to join a trend called cohousing. It’s not a commune and there’s no sharing of income, though decision-making is by consensus. Cohousing bolsters sharing — a lawnmower, tools or an on-site laundromat, as well as guest quarters for out-of-town visitors. Homes are private, clustered near a common space where homeowners meet regularly to share meals and build community.
Of the nation’s 168 cohousing communities, almost all are intergenerational. But now, as increasing numbers of aging adults eschew the idea of institutional living, cohousing has become an attractive option. In 2010, no U.S. cohousing communities were geared toward seniors. PDX Commons is now the nation’s 13th such community for the 55-and-older demographic. Two more are under construction and 13 others are in the early stages. “Interest in cohousing has not only increased in general, but especially in the senior world,” said Karin Hoskin, executive director of Coho/US, the Cohousing Association of the United States,a nonprofit that supports cohousing communities nationwide. While groups of friends may discuss growing old together on common ground, in most cohousing communities, the residents start as strangers who plan to help each other for the rest of their lives. Fisher said part of the home-buying process includes months of getting-to-know-you activities that precede the purchase.