Co-living for older people – reduced loneliness and lower living costs

This research report from the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research, funded by the Nationwide Foundation, reveals a range of benefits for older people choosing to live with others, as well as identifying barriers to be overcome if co-living is to grow at scale throughout the UK.

It offers three different scenarios that qualify what is meant by ‘co-living’, namely; 1) house sharing, where an older person who wishes to stay in their own home welcomes a tenant or ‘house-sharer’, and in exchange for reduced rent, the house-sharer assists them with light daily tasks; 2) cohousing, where communal space is shared and an ‘intentional community’ is created; and 3) intergenerational living, where homes are shared by a group of older people and a group of younger people.

The report also outlines why co-living models haven’t grown as quickly in the UK as they have in Europe. Among barriers identified were patchy access to land and finance, as well as planning, tax and benefits systems set up in a way which act as a disincentive to living with others in older age. In conclusion, it makes recommendations that could allow this housing model to grow.

They include:
• Increased funding for co-housing groups
• Re-thinking how land is seen and valued
• Changes to the planning system to allow co-living groups more time to purchase sites

Alongside this research, the centre has also produced a guide to co-living (click on the link below), which promotes co-living and provides further information.