Cohouseholding, anyone?


Sharing a household has taken a step further than rent-sharing, with an increasing number of baby boomers or retirees, often single adult and unrelated females, deciding to buy a home and live together.

At the outset of the Great Recession in 2007 up to 2010, it was estimated that including multigenerational homes wherein young adults moved in with their parents, there was an 11.4% increase in the number of shared households in the United States. In another estimate, the country supposedly has 22 million shared households, four million of which have at least two unrelated adults. The unabated rise in the cost of housing, particularly in the urban areas, and the steadily increasing number of single, unmarried adults contribute much in shaping this trend.

For the golden girls

Cohouseholding, anyone?

Also helping mold this development are innovative platforms or resources which have emerged recently to facilitate connection among baby boomers inclined towards sharing mortgages or just rooming in together. One of these facilities is the website which helps to connect single women aged over 50 who are interested in cohousing or cohouseholding. Its membership, available online for free, now links women in the metropolitan areas of Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA, and Sarasota, FL.

Another online infrastructure which has gained traction is the start-up Golden Girls Homes (, a facility which is promoting shared housing and setting up a national electronic database to help older women find housemates. This online platform is the brainchild of Louise Machinist, Karen Bush, and Jean McQuillin, who co-authored the book My House, Our House: Living Far Better for Far Less in a Cooperative Household based on their personal experience of owning and living together in a Pittsburgh home.

Bush, who spoke in an alternative housing conference for seniors in Sarasota recently, noted various benefits of cohouseholding. Besides environmental and social benefits of intellectual engagement, health and support, the financial advantages in terms of reduced annual energy consumption of nearly 50% is significant, said Bush who also now co-owns with Machinist a unit at the Le Chateau near the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota.

Available home choices

Those who are convinced of these advantages will be pleased to note that some homebuilders have existing products quite suitable for this niche for multigenerational or cohouseholding market. One is Lennar which has made available its Oxford NextGen floor plan among Sarasota homes for sale in Bridgewater, one of the new communities at Lakewood Ranch.

This house model is a six-bedroom, two-story home with a floor area of 3,828 square feet and a two-car garage. Designed with privacy in mind for individual residents, this home has a starting price around the low $400s.

Lennar is also offering another NextGen model, the Independence, at the Sanctuary executive neighborhood of the River Strand golf community in Bradenton and in the gated subdivision of Gran Paradiso in North Port. This residence has five bedrooms and three baths within its floor plan of 3,557 square feet.

Also a two-story house with a three-car garage, this home features a separate living area with its own bedroom, living room, kitchenette and eat-in breakfast corner. A starting price in the $300s is quoted for this multigenerational home which should fit the need of older folks sold on the advantages of cohouseholding.