6 Shared Housing Books that Belong on Your Shelf

Wherever you are on your journey with Aging in Community, chances are that somebody has been there before. When it comes to the option of shared housing, we are lucky enough to have several people who have written some pretty great books about.

Below you’ll find six books that offer different perspectives on what shared housing is all about. Some of them tell the stories of people who have managed to make living with friends under one roof work for them. Others offer practical advice and exercises that you can put to work for yourself.

My House, Our House: Living Far Better for Far Less in a Cooperative Household by Karen M. Bush, Louis S. Machinist, and Jean McQuillin 

my house our house book cover

Authored by three female Boomers with plenty of hands-on experience with shared housing, My House, Our House belongs on the bookshelves of any reader who’s serious about sharing a home with others as they age. 

This book addresses the many challenges and perks of coliving as we age, particularly with other perennial women. The three trail-blazing women share their own journey of creating community with one another under a shared roof and what they learned along the way.

Told with humor, affection, and honesty, this book invites the reader to explore the challenges, practicalities, and joys of moving from “my house” to “our house.” 


If you’d like to learn more about this book, I encourage you to read my blog post spotlighting My House, Our House.

How to Start a Golden Girls Home by Bonnie Moore

One of the most common questions that I get when I share my own experience of living in a real world Golden Girls home is this:

“How can I find a community just like this for myself?”

While there are some ways of finding spaces and roommates for elder women out there, the truth is that most Golden Girls homes are created DIY by the women who want them the most.

That’s why I am so grateful that a book like How to Start a Golden Girls Home is out there. While it doesn’t happen overnight, creating a setting like this for yourself isn’t rocket science. Bonnie Moore shows us all how in this book with a guide that starts with finding the right people through handling sticky situations like pets and conflicts. 

Sharing Housing: A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates by Annamarie Pluhar

“Everyone has this universal understanding of roommate drama,” as actress Leighton Meester put it in one of my favorite quotes about shared housing.

Annamarie Pulmar knows this well, which may have been why she designed her book to serve as “a guidebook for finding and keeping good housemates.” It definitely delivers on this premise. 

Within the pages the reader will find concrete, actionable advice, such as: 

  • How to eliminate inappropriate people quickly and safely
  • How to write an ad
  • How to negotiate the details of living together
  • What kind of background checks and references are helpful

The book continues with chapters on actually living together what to expect and how to manage.

Your Quest for Home by Marianne Kilkenny

While it’s about more than just shared housing, I’m including my own book on this list because it offers relevant material that other books leave out. 

Your Quest for Home is designed to provide readers with a roadmap for taking ownership of their own journey with Aging in Community. It serves as a guidebook for figuring out what you are looking for in a community and how to find it.

When it comes to shared housing, far too many sit around waiting for the perfect opportunity to fall in their lap, which rarely happens. If you are ready to take the initiative and start finding the people you want to live with and figure out how, when, and where you’re going to make that happen, I encourage you to pick up a copy of your own.

Shared Living: Interior Design for Rented and Shared Spaces by Emily Hutchinson

Released in late 2019, Emily Hutchinson’s new book tackle’s another important topic to shared housing: optimizing the physical spaces that we share together. 

She wrote her book specifically for people who are currently living with roommates or are planning on doing it in the near future. And she covers just about every issue that I can think of when it comes to sharing residential spaces, such as merging styles and identifying what matters most when you are looking for a space.

Understanding that many people choose to live in shared housing in part for economic reasons, she also offers some practical advice on making the most of what you have, DIY interior design options from scratch, and sourcing one-of-a-kind elements by upcycling and finding great deals. 

Shared Living also offers a ton of examples of what roommates have come up with from around the country, including an impressive number of color illustrations.  

The Ladies of Covington Series by Joan Medlicott

Written by local author Joan Medlicott (one of my favorite people) from here in my home city of Asheville, the Ladies of Covington books occupy a special place in my heart. 

Starting with The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love, the entire series is an inspiring delight. Join this household of elder women as they make their way from a sad Pennsylvania boardinghouse to create a home for themselves in the mountains of western North Carolina. 

These books are a part of a literary genre referred to as Matron Lit, a subcategory of Boomer Lit, where older women are the primary protagonists. The Ladies of Covington Series is a favorite among fans for showing strong women choosing to live together to enhance their lives and relationships.

If you have found these books helpful yourself or know of others, join the conversation on Facebook.

If you are thinking about living in a shared house or have one already, I have another step for you to take.

I have released a FREE exercise just for you. It’s an excerpt from my book on finding your ideal community, Your Quest for Home.

It’s called Casting a Wider Net if 4 Easy Steps, and it’s designed to help you identify potential community collaborators in your network. In the exercise, I walk you through a four-part process of creating a mindmap that identifies people in your network who could be a good fit for your community in ever-expanding circles. Even if you are further down the road than the brainstorming stage, you still might find it interesting.

To receive it, simply sign up using the form below, and I’ll get it right to you. And if you decide to put it to work, please let me know! Seriously, I love that kind of feedback.

Sign up below to receive my free exercise for finding your people!

Feeling inspired to take the next step? Great!
Sign up now for my FREE exercise for finding potential community partners, Casting a Wider Net in 4 Easy Steps.

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Aging in Community 2019 Update

Progress in the Aging in Community Movement: 

Three Themes You Need to Know About

In 2019, today’s elders are taking ownership of aging in community like never before. As I’ve been tracking the developments, some major themes have started standing out, and I’d like to take this opportunity to share them with you now. 

When I look at the movement today, I’m equally excited by how far we’ve come in some areas and daunted by how far we still have to go in others.

Recent trends in aging in community show a generation that is revolutionizing how people we will live in our homes and stay connected with the community as we age. I outline what I view as some of the biggest successes and challenges of our movement below.

Together, we stand poised to change the face of aging in our society. But we’ll only get there if we show up and do what it takes. 

I’ve been hard at work for the last several months working on my own foundation for aging in community. I urge you to do the same.

Theme #1: Aging in Community Approaches Critical Mass

When I first started writing, speaking, and organizing about this topic more than ten years ago, there weren’t that many people who were talking about aging in community. There were just a handful of leaders out there with a limited audience of people who were taking the topic seriously. 

And it was a little frustrating sometimes talking over and over with people who seemed to be waiting for someone else to build their ideal community for them and just tell them about. And that’s NOT how it works.

But I don’t feel like I’m a lone voice in the night anymore. Today, it feels like we are turning a corner with enough of us waking up. More people than ever are taking ownership of how and where they are going to age and who they are going to do it with. There is a momentum caused by enough people getting involved and becoming for the change they want to see in the world that the Aging in Community movement is making real progress. 

Charles Durrett leading a cohousing workshop

I see this in news sources I watch where there are headlines about new communities, housing alternatives, related housing initiatives, and resources in the news everyday. 

I see it in changes in legislation like the Golden Girls Act up in Canada. 

I see this in educational programs and workshops that are taking place this year like Charles Durrett’s workshop at the 2019 National Cohousing Conference. I have a presentation coming up myself introducing alternative housing choices to a new group near Asheville, NC locally at a retreat in October 2019 called 50Forward.  

I also see this in the thriving online communities that are really growing and buzzing with activity, particularly on Facebook. Some are general interest groups about housing alternatives for older folks like Sixty and Me. Others serve the needs of specific groups, such as Elder OrphansWomen Living in Community, and Decolonizing the Crone

And it’s all happening because enough people are showing up and making it happen. 

Theme #2: Boomers are Leading the Residential Revolution in Community Building, Especially Cohousing

Interest in community living has also really picked up steam for people of all ages have gotten tired of living in an isolated world and refuse to do it anymore. But its older people who are leading the charge in most cases, cohousing in particular. 

More than 160 cohousing communities have been formed in the United States since it was introduced to the country in the 1980’s. At least 125 additional cohousing communities are being developed right now. 

And, if you visit most of them, you’ll find that the founders and most of the people living there tend to be  boomers who have chosen to age in community and made it happen. 

If you would like to dig deeper on this trend, I have some further resources below:

Theme #3: Unprecedented Pace in Creating More Alternative Structures & Repurpose Existing Structures for Aging in Community 

It doesn’t seem like a month has gone by that I haven’t heard of some exciting new developments in alternative housing design. And most of these structures are designed for boomers who have realized that they are the first generation to be able to choose what types of structures they are going to age in a way that no generation before could have dreamed was possible. 

Here are a couple of examples of alternative structures that can easily be incorporated into aging in community.

Minka Homes

The latest creation of Dr. Bill Thomas, Minka believe it’s time for a new housing story. Minka designs, pre-fabricates and delivers sensibly-sized kit homes that can either stand alone, act as accessory dwelling units or be combined to develop pocket neighborhoods.

She Sheds

A small building separate from the main home, reserved specifically for the use of an adult woman, in which she can relax and pursue her interests. While they were designed to be the female equivalent of an outdoor man cave, they can also provide community designers with interesting options for pocket neighborhoods.

Repurposing Existing Properties for Seniors in 2019

At the same time, there is a growing interest in finding innovative new ways of repurposing structures that we already have. And seniors sharing homes has been on the rise for a while now.

Several years ago, I lived in a community for seniors on this model in which I lived with a handful of other great women (click here for a video all about it). Together, we lived in a house that was originally designed for an average family that we repurposed for aging in community as women living together in an intentional environment.

Here are three examples of similar projects that are getting off the ground in 2019.

  • The Oak Hill coliving home is an example of something similar that formed in 2019 thanks to Canada’s Golden Girl Act. 
  • Hibiscus Commons is a new senior cooperative housing project that is part of the Bay Area Community Land Trust that has a focus on exploring affordable options. They are doing so by finding ways to repurpose unused or underutilized properties. 
  • Village Hearth is an LGBT-focused, ages 55+, community in Durham, NC, with 15 acres of wooded land just 20 minutes from downtown. 

These are just a few examples of the types of projects that have gotten established recently. There are many more.

My recent experience with some of the above:

Until early 2019, I was developing a pocket neighborhood that was designed to incorporate both repurposing an existing home and building new modular structures for aging in community. 

This included using a mid-century ranch house that would have functioned as a community center and coliving opportunity for a few people, plus a series of six to twelve modular homes for people desiring shared space.

You can learn more about this project in my own 2019 personal update

Moving forward and what’s to come

The Grand Nudge wants you to take ownership of whether and how you age in community.

While there’s a lot to be excited about in the world of aging in community, it’s important to understand that your ideal community isn’t just going to land on your doorstep in 2019 or any time soon. As some of you know, that’s a message that The Grand Nudge believes in very strongly.

It’s up to you to take ownership of how you age and be the captain of your own quest for home. If you are new to the topic or could use some tools in exploring this journey, I encourage you to explore my book, My Quest for Home.

And there’s also a lot that still needs to happen moving forward within the Aging in Community movement, particularly in the areas of affordable housing, getting local governments on board, and creating good matching services for senior housing. 

I hope that you found this update on themes I’m seeing in the Aging in Community helpful. 

If you’re not already signed up, be sure to subscribe for updates from the Women Living in Community Network now. That’s the easiest way to know when a new post has been published. 

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Go Local for Community Resources

Over the years I’ve met many people in the community movement who have been my inspiration and education.  I’ve been fortunate to have a few right in my own backyard (so to speak).  Here are profiles of 3 such people who have been instrumental in my quest for Community:

LEADER IN ECOVILLAGES AND INTENTIONAL COMMUNITIES

dianeleafchristianDiana Leafe Christian breathes, writes and lives about community, specifically, Ecovillages and Intentional Communities.  “Ecovillages are urban or rural communities of people who strive to integrate a supportive social environment with a low-impact way of life.” (Source).

She doesn’t just write about it, she lives in one in Black Mountain, NC called Earthaven (www.Earthaven.org).  This community was formed in 1995 and is now up to 55 full-time residents with diversity in age and background.

Living in an Ecovillage is not just about being sustainable but also how to get along and make decisions. Diana teaches workshops and writes about “Sociocracy,” a way of consensus building in community.  To get an idea of what it means, you can view a Youtube video here, “Diana Leafe Christian – Decision-making in communities + intro to Sociocracy 1“.

All of those seeking to learn about or who live in community have probably come across Communities Magazine. Diana was the editor from 1993 – 2007.  In addition to editing, Diana also published several books about Ecovillages and Intentional Communities.  Her books are considered the “bible” for community (click on titles to view on Amazon):

creatingCreating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities

Finding Community: How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community

What more can I say? How fortunate am I to have her this close?

 

LEADER IN DEVELOPING COMMUNITY TOOLS FOR COLLABORATION


zellemaureen
Zelle Nelson and Maureen McCarthy
are a dynamic couple I met over 1o years ago while on my search for alternatives to lawyers and litigation in community forming documents. They live in Western Carolina in the small town of  Flat Rock. They are the founders of The Blueprint of WE (initially known as the “State of Grace Document) that later became The Center for Collaborative Awareness. The Blueprint of WE is a collaboration tool that can be used by businesses, in family, in groups  and of course, in community. It starts with you and custom designs a collaboration process for building together and is a guide when conflicts arise. You might think of a relationship as you and another person but with the Blueprint of WE, it’s “You, Me and WE.” blueprint

I encourage anyone who wishes to have better collaboration and communication in any personal, community or business endeavor to explore this fabulous tool.

LEADER IN BEING PASSIONATE
gregg
Gregg Levoy  is an author who writes and speaks about passion and callings – what inspires you, what defeats you, what drives you. Gregg does not work directly in the Community movement but what he writes about is important to anyone interested in living a purposeful life with passion. I met Gregg at a workshop over 12 years ago in California and found out a few years ago that he lives in Asheville, NC!
His latest book, Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion has made him a favorite at the conferences on aging due to the nature of the topic and his workshop leading skills. It examines the endless, yet endlessly fruitful, tug-of-war between passion and security in our lives, asking yourself questions like: How do you lose passion and how do you get it back? His other book, Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, explores how to cultivate passion as a mindset to add vitality to your relationships and work.
Love his website (http://www.gregglevoy.com/) which is full of great stuff.  One of my favorite things on his website is the music and movies he recommends. http://www.gregglevoy.com/vital-signs/music-movies.html but you can also see his workshop schedule. I encourage you to attend one.
As you can see, there are some dynamic  people here in western North Carolina and I only touched upon a few.  We also have great resources which I will write about in a future blog as part of my ongoing desire to serve. In the meantime, please share with me your resources or if you found any of these helpful or inspirational.
Helpful hint: If you’re getting this post by email and have a comment to share, please click here and reply at the bottom of the blog post so that way, your comments can be shared with everyone!

A New Community Tribe: The First NotMom Summit

Months ago I was asked to participate in an event that would be the first of its kind. You never know what to expect in these situations but my participation made sense. This was the first ever conference for women without children. The idea was to bring together women who made the choice to not have children as well as those who did want kids but over time and circumstance find themselves without them.

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The first-ever NotMom Summit took place in Cleveland, Ohio on October 9th and 10th.

[Read more…]

Community or Place: A Look at Our Needs Vs. Our Wants

To build from my last post, which looked at the importance of connection as we age, I wanted to expand more on the key elements of successful “Aging in Place” and how the principles for building a community provide the alternative many are seeking.

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Community vs. Place: Why It Matters

Let’s take a closer look at aging in community and what makes it a different, and in many cases preferred, from aging in place.

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In Spring of 2015 I opened my mailbox to find the newest edition of Communities Magazine. In it was a fantastic article by Margaret Critchlow called “Senior Cohousing in Canada: How Baby Boomers Can Build Social Portfolios for Aging Well.” Since this is right in my own wheelhouse I quickly devoured the article.

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How We Live Now: A Review

I usually save my favorite books for the holidays but this one was published just this week and I like to keep readers up with the latest news. Even though there are a plethora of books on my shelf that I could recommend this is the one I think you should add first.

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Like many of you, my life is always on the go so I can’t always find time in my busy schedule to sit down and read an entire book. But if you don’t read anything else, this is the one to pick up from Amazon today.

Here are a few reasons.

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Tiny Homes and Community Living: A Recap

The country, and the world, is currently enamored with the idea of tiny houses. Just look at the popularity of DIY Network’s Tiny House Nation, which documents the building of a tiny house from concept to completion in just one 45 minute episode. Asheville company Wishbone Tiny Homes has even been featured on an episode.

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I have not been immune to this concept. I have written about tiny homes as an option for aging both in community and in place. Several times I asked a local tiny home dweller, Laura M. LaVoie, to share her insights and for other installments I explored the possibilities myself. Let’s take a look at the tiny house resources I’ve shared on this blog.

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Flexibility and Red Flags: Trust Your Intuition

“They are not rigid and set in their ways. While they know what they want and think positively about getting what they desire, they remain flexible to what the circumstances require of them. “

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In my book, Your Quest for Home, I discuss the characteristics of a successful leader (quote from page 120). Flexibility is one of those characteristics. I believe that it is a key to success and a part of my consulting as the Grand Nudge and trailblazer on Aging in Community

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Are You Ready to Make a Change? 5 Resources to Get You Started

You’re here because you want to make a change. You may be concerned about your options as you age or about having the right support network in place. It won’t be easy but the rewards are exponential. There is no time like the present to start shaping your future.

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