Elli Davis 2016_05_10

Traditional retirement is not what it used to be – many boomers are hoping to reinvent what the “golden years” look like and avoid institutions for as long as possible. There are alternative living arrangements gaining popularity throughout North America – providing residents with privacy and independence without sacrificing community and companionship.


Co-housing enables people to live in their own space while enjoying a tight-knit community with a focus on interdependence. Homes are linked to communal spaces such as kitchens, gardens and dining areas where residents can enjoy each other’s company and socialize.

Many co-housing setups have been made by residents themselves, coming up with ideas on how to link properties together and create an interdependent lifestyle. About a dozen co-housing communities have sprouted up across Canada, with dozens more in the planning stages. Some are multigenerational, welcoming families, while others are geared towards empty-nesters.

A deluxe cohousing community is being built in Sooke, British Columbia where the average price for one of the 31 homes is $375,000. The homes are only around 845 square feet but residents have access to a 4,000 square foot common house.

Many people want to bring community into their life in their senior years. Co-housing allows residents to depend on their neighbours and also to receive help and support that they may not otherwise have. Residents are expected to be there for each other, often cooking meals for someone if they get sick or providing transportation to the hospital if needed.

House Sharing

House sharing is a great option for those who want to remain in their own home while saving money and having companionship. Aside from the obvious financial benefits, this living situation can provide a sense of security and ward off loneliness. Some may invite a friend or family member to live with them to provide support while others may find like-minded tenants to spend time with and share chores/take turns cooking. This is a viable alternative to living alone, especially if health is an issue – having someone in your home that can help you in an emergency is crucial.

Retirement Villages

Retirement villages are a fast growing alternative to traditional retirement homes and communities. These villages allow residents to live independently in their own homes while receiving the extra care and support they require. There are over 125 of these villages in the United States with another 100 on the way. These villages run on membership fees and residents receive support from both volunteer and paid workers. This set-up relies less on the interdependence of residents and more on outside care but still provides a sense of community and companionship.

Niche Communities

Many interest-specific communities are sprouting up all over North America, where boomers can join like-minded people and enjoy doing the things that interest them. For example, there is a community called the Escapees Care Center where retirees can park their RVs and pay monthly fees to live in the community with other enthusiasts. Other communities exist that are tailored specifically to retired postal workers, artists, Zen Buddhists etc. – there really is a place for everyone!

If you have any questions about the housing options in your community, give me a call at 416-921-1112 – I am always happy to help.