Communal Retirement Living… No Love Beads Required

Communal Retirement Living

For many of us, communal living conjures up images of the sixties… complete with fringed jackets and love beads. With memories of the economic meltdown during The Great Recession (2007 to 2012), many of us wonder if we’ll have the financial cushion needed to retire comfortably. Some of my clients are exploring their housing options as they age. Communal retirement living may just be the answer to that financial question.

Living Longer, Healthier Lives

The average lifespan continues to lengthen. To put things into perspective, Social Security estimated 53.9% of men and 60.6% of women were expected to survive to age 65 back in 1940. Now those numbers are well above 70-80%. The U.S. Census Bureau reports the average retirement age is 63 and lasts about 18 years.

Many of us expected to enjoy at least two decades of retirement. We’re finding healthier ways to live… by what we eat, how we spend our money, and who we surround ourselves.

Redefining Retirement

Interesting alternatives to retirement living are cropping up. Below is a brief summary of some of the creative options that some are using.

Staying In Your Home

Baby Boomers want to stay in their home for as long as possible. Sometimes extra income and/or help is needed.

  • Silvernest, a new roommate matching service, helps boomers and empty nesters find housemates that suit their lifestyle and needs. The homeowner can stay in the home they love and a housemate finds a lovely home.
  • Airbnb or similar services allow short-term rentals of empty rooms or in-law units.
  • Multi-generational living is not a new concept. Some cultures have 3 or more generations all under one roof. I’m seeing more home remodeling projects with this idea in mind. Configurations I’ve seen are additions with an extra master suite or apartment. It provides proximity and privacy.

Communal Retirement Living

Concerned about isolation and lack of community? You’re not alone. There are several communal living associations that match ecovillages, cohousing, communes, co-ops with like-minded individuals. Who knew there were so many forms of communal living!

You can rent, buy, join an existing community or even form a new one in your area. The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), a Missouri-based communal living clearinghouse, defines an intentional community as “a group of people who have chosen to live together with a common purpose, working cooperatively to create a lifestyle that reflects their shared core values. The people may live together on a piece of rural land, in a suburban home, or in an urban neighborhood, and they may share a single residence or live in a cluster of dwellings.”

FIC maintains an extensive worldwide directory that includes ecovillages, communes, co-ops, and cohousing. In California alone, there are 145 communities in both in all types of settings.

For those in Silicon Valley, the Bay Area Cooperative Association and The Coop Network also offers additional resources.

Benefits of Communal Retirement Living

Shared Housing Costs. Depending on the community, the idea is to pool together resources to make living more affordable. As seniors try to make ends meet with fixed incomes, sharing costs will stretch limited dollars in retirement.

Sense of Community. Many seniors feel isolated, especially if their children live out of state or are busy professionals with little free time. Communal Retirement Living can add a sense of independence and access to activities that keep the brain and body healthy and engaged.

Sustainable Living. Many communities are focused on reducing individual carbon footprints, using land to grow local organic produce for members, and offer resources onsite. The saying “Think Globally, Buy Locally” seems particularly apt in creating lifestyles that are kind to our planet and our bodies.

Say Hello to Cooperation & Collaboration

If you’re examining how you want to live during retirement, you have many options available to you. It’s an opportunity to look at what’s truly important to you, to examine your needs beyond material possessions, and to create the quality of life you truly want.

Now’s the time to think creatively and open the door for cooperation and collaboration.
Need help in creating a workable and sustainable spending plan? Schedule a free 30-minute consultation today.

Photo credit: Hippie Bowman


  1. Would very much like to find those places on the east coast that are of the same mindset that you are using. Where do you suggest this research begin, besides your good example?


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