Senior lifestyle trends include ‘coliving’

Bob Marsh

By Bob Marsh

Most seniors want to maximize their independence, their quality of life, their freedom and their choices as they age.

Rather than downsizing all the way to an assisted living facility, aging in place in your own home is a first choice and a great goal. But many need to downsize for purely economic reasons. While downsizing to an apartment or condo can work for many, it usually lacks the sense of community that other senior-living models offer.

Two current trends for seniors to consider are group homes and “coliving.” Both are typically a residence with separate bedrooms for individuals and couples, with shared kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms, activity rooms, parking, etc.

Many seniors choose to downsize to group homes with other people who have a common focus – religion, philosophy of life, business purpose or even a focus on travel. Several, hopefully compatible, people live in an economic setting, sharing the costs of the facility’s operation – utilities, maintenance and repair.

Coliving is a commercial extension of the group home concept. Developers around the world are building coliving residences for people of all ages, but this lifestyle is particularly important for seniors, especially seniors wanting to minimize their living expenses while maintaining a high quality of life.

Each coliving residence is set up with management and maintenance services provided. Each resident pays a monthly fee that covers their room rent, meals and other services. Many coliving facilities have been started in and near major centers of employment where affordable living simply wasn’t available in the apartment and detached single family home markets.

Last year, the City of Maricopa completed a housing study, finding with our current housing inventory of exclusively single-family homes, those homes require a household income of more than $50,000. Pinal County in general requires a household income of more than $40,000. Seniors, both singles and couples, living on just Social Security don’t have that kind of income.

While apartments and senior living facilities are in the plans for Maricopa’s future, group homes and coliving facilities could be real solutions for seniors – and others – here today.

Bob Marsh is a director of Maricopa Senior Coalition and a member of the Pinal County Board of Adjustments and Appeals.

This column appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.