THE NEW RETIREMENT –INNOVATIVE OPTIONS
You’re at last slowing down. Your home is getting to be too much to handle - it’s just too big for your needs now. Your children have their own lives or live too far away and can’t help out. You and they don’t want to live together as a solution to older age. What to do?
Does the thought of a nursing home or aged care facility alarm and dismay you? Are you uneasy about or just not suited to current retirement villages and don’t want to lose your well-earned cash to operator weighted contracts and excessive fees?
Then here are some alternatives that are gaining big ground overseas and here in Australia. These alternatives may answer the question of what we should do in these times of increasing political, environmental, and economic upheaval and how we can as older citizens build individual and community resilience.
Co-housing is very big in Europe where it has been around since the 1960’s. Basically you own your own home but share some communal facilities like halls, kitchens, laundries, pools, gardens and sheds. The disadvantage is you must find an already set-up co-housing organisation or start one of your own. Also, the co-housing might not be where you want to live. The advantages are you save money on bills by sharing facilities and you combat loneliness by regularly interacting with others yet still retain your privacy. With a mixed age co-housing setup, you also can get the younger ones to do any heavy or difficult tasks for you. Check out the current co-housing list at http://www.communities.org.au/projects/list.
Cooperative group homes
These can be residential houses that are specially fitted out and adapted for seniors where you get a room and staff to help. This is called board-and-care homes in the United States but are not so prevalent here yet. Or pool your savings and get your own retirement home built for a few families and hire a shared carer. Maybe a ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ here in Australia! Check out Guy Luscombe’s ideas for architecture for older people at https://www.aag.asn.au/documents/item/848
If you have lifelong friends that you always like being around then buy a house together and never be lonely or bored again. Think the American sit-com The Golden Girls! I believe this model will happen more and more in the future with the young (and not so young), as criminally high house prices lock people into decades of work. For example, with $250,000 each you can get a $500,000 property with separate private floors and strategic communal areas. Obviously, the more people you go in with the cheaper it gets. Check out some folks who have done this at https://shedders.wordpress.com/
Not keen on buying again or moving? Then rent out a few rooms in exchange for some help. Home-sharing is safer, reduces loneliness, can promote inter-generational living and can combat homesickness for international students if you open your home to them. With a growing aging population and huge inner city rents it’s a win-win all round. Check out http://www.homeshare.org.au/
There are many definitions of eco villages but according to Josha Joubert, Executive Director of the Global Ecovillage Network, they are a "intentional, traditional; rural or urban community that is consciously designed through locally owned, participatory processes in all four dimensions of sustainability (social, culture, ecology and economy) to regenerate their social and natural environments." Eco villages, also called intentional communities or sustainable communities, typically have populations of 50-150 people and have sharing as a common theme – sharing resources, responsibilities and a common goal. The three major benefits include: social benefits that combats isolation and fosters a sense of community, financial benefits by saving costs through shared facilities and affordable housing options, and health benefits through sustainable and healthy building, communal gardens, natural environmental surrounds and ecologically responsible behaviours. All this adds up to a very high state of wellbeing! Witchcliffe is an exciting new eco village at the Margaret River that has been given the go ahead. Check it out at http://www.ecovillage.net.au/
Something a little different is Smart Urban Villages that provides you with a long-lease home with shared facilities. Check it out at http://www.smarturbanvillages.com/