Co-living, co-housing, homesharing. When it comes to finding solutions to housing our population, there is no shortage of ideas and schemes that revolve around sharing in one form or another, whether in an attempt to alleviate loneliness or due to financial constraints.
With each scheme comes its challenges. Co-housing communities in the UK are on the rise but can struggle with obtaining the capital these developments often require and for which existing financial products are scarce, not to mention finding available land on which to build them when land (especially in urban areas) is at a premium.
Co-living is often focused on the younger end of the market, as a form of transitionary living for upwardly mobile professionals seeking ready-made communities in the form of shared social spaces, sometimes at the cost of providing them in individual units.
"Lodging...has the potential to provide a form of homesharing that can be implemented immediately without the need for either developers or funders"Homesharing, where a younger person lives with an older homeowner (usually in their later years) at a reduced rent in exchange for providing them with a fixed amount of hours for ‘duties’ such as shopping, companionship and perhaps some light housekeeping, can prove to be a messy arrangement with one side often requiring more than the other side is willing to give.
Lodging is a word fraught with connotations of student living… or Withnail and I, depending on what decade you were born into. But with 20 millions surplus bedrooms by 2040, nearly two thirds of them in homes unoccupied by the over 65s as reported in ‘Too Little, Too Late: Housing for an Ageing Population (opens new window)’ published this month by ARCO in collaboration with Cass Business School, it has the potential to provide a form of homesharing that can be implemented immediately without the need for either developers or funders.
As someone who suddenly found myself two years ago sharing my flat with a man of a similar age to myself (I’m 59), it’s a living arrangement I’m familiar with when financial necessity dictated that I rent out a spare room. Since then, I’ve come across dozens of others that are doing the same, both to keep the roof over their heads and because living with someone you like, whatever their age, is preferable to living with someone with whom you don’t get along. And the rent can fill the gap left by having an inadequate pension pot while providing affordable accommodation to someone looking for a comfortable, clean place to live.
"It’s time we update lodging and all its negative associations and consider how it can contribute to solving the housing crisis… one room at a time"It’s not without its challenges – living with others, whatever their age, has its ups and downs. Companionship is at the heart of communal living and, in my experience, it’s more than who does the washing up, but about shared values, understanding and respecting boundaries and on a core set of house rules that are mutually agreed. All that put aside, in the endless search for housing solutions it’s one I believe can happen now.
It’s time we update lodging and all its negative associations and consider how it can contribute to solving the housing crisis… one room at a time.
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