What fun it was to participate in last weekend’s workshop hosted by the Wine on the Porch Co-Housing Team in Toronto!

All of the participants and speakers explored the benefits and challenges of creating a shared housing or co-housing community. We learned about real-life examples where people are living in a co-housing arrangement. Our facilitator was Kitty Elton, founder and director of West Wind Harbour Cohousing in Sooke, B.C.

Kitty helped us to visualize our future selves in terms of a “day in the life of” aging in a co-living situation, including our “hopes and fears” about living with others.

Louise Bardswich, from Port Perry, shared her experience of having four friends living in a co-housing arrangement and how they balance privacy and social interactions, along with the many financial advantages they have found.

Mary Jordan, the initiator of Rare Birds Housing Cooperative in Kamloops BC. gave us a good picture of operating a cooperative housing arrangement.

All of the 30 participants raved about this valuable workshop – saying how inspiring it was to learn more about co-housing options, clarify some of the concepts, and to see the many benefits of the co-housing model!

Here are a few of the reasons that our group is attracted to co-housing:

• Collective knowledge, lifelong learning
• Creative collaboration with others
• Safe and physically appealing environment
• Streamlining use if resources (e.g. physical, human, transportation)
• Balance of privacy and community
• Financial benefits (lower costs) and the opportunities that this affords us
• Trusting relationships
• Control/autonomy over our lives as we age
• A sense of building alternative models for the future
• Sharing our activities or burdens (e.g. cooking or shopping)
• Helping us maintain a “Non-curmudgeon-ness” attitude

Co-housing or Co-living may take many forms, including:

  • smaller, co-ownership in a single family home
  • formal share ownership in a corporate structure for a building or multi-unit dwelling
  • larger, 30- to 35-unit homes or condos within a complex.

My big takeaway is that it takes creativity, effort and lead time to create a co-housing solution, but the many benefits include the cost savings, healthier lifestyle, and social supports.

Given that more of us boomers are aging and living longer, these types of intentional, cost-effective community solutions are needed!

It was a pleasure to be part of the growing number of like-minded people who want to explore and create new models for community housing and healthy aging – in collaboration with each other.