How do I get Started Building Community?

The number one question asked on this blog and social media is, “How can I start living in community?” I thought I might take some time to answer a few of those questions.

Just like good journalism, it is important to ask yourself the “5 Ws” before to create a plan to get started.

Who, What, Where, Why, and When?

Answering these 5 questions will give you a head start on the “How?”

Start with your “Why?” What purpose do you want to achieve by living in community? Is it to reduce your expenses? It is to have companionship as you age? Is it to have assistance? There are so many reasons to consider it is important to know your motivations.

The next step is to determine the “Who?” If you have been talking about this for a while, who have you spoken to about the idea? Have you noticed any sparks of interest in those conversations? Look at your extended social networks. Who thinks outside of the box? Who might be interested in this type of living situation? Think though the tangible concepts like current life situations, time and money resources, and if you can see yourself living with them.

I encourage you to click below to see more steps to take on the path toward community living.

Host a gathering. Invite all of the people on your short list. Make the gathering part social so everyone can get to know each other and part discussion. Ask questions like “Why would you want to live in community?” Talk about the things that stand in everyone’s way.

Begin to spread the word. You can use some of my tips for advocating community living to get started. It is great to team up with a partner for this process. Work with someone else who shows as much interest and initiative as you do. You and your marketing partner can combine your strengths to share the mission in your community.

Next, start thinking about the place and the tools to make it all work. Having the right people involved is a good first step but it is also important to determine where you want to live and how to make the situation work for you. Go ahead and start looking at homes to purchase or rent. Get pre-approved for financing even before you decide how you want to establish the house rules. Write down the ways you would like to manage the shared household. Create a package that you can work with long term.

On the flipside, there are some hazards to avoid. If you think through these potential problems before you move in you will be better equipped to handle them as they arise.

Avoid the blame game when something goes wrong. Avoid and discourage others from holding on to the past. Don’t make statements like “This is the way we’ve always done it.” That can be relationship ending language.

Establish a shared understanding of the rules of the household before problems occur. Don’t allow communications traps such as putting one housemate in the middle of a disagreement. When you talk about the idea don’t listen to the horror stories that people always want to share.  Create an exit strategy for yourself and for others to follow in case of emergency.

Finally, don’t go into the living situation wearing rose colored glasses. You need to embrace each member of the household fully; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Here are some additional resources to help you:

The Sharing Solution by Janelle Orsi and Emily Doskow

Aging in Community by Janice M. Blanchard

My House Our House by Karen Bush, Louise Machinist, and Jean McQuillin

And Coming Soon! My Workbook for Community Living. “Your Quest for Home: A Guidebook to Find the Ideal Community for Your Later Years” will soon be available. To be one of the first to receive it AND to pay the reduced price of only $24.95, pre-order your copy today! Plus, an additional bonus for the first 100 people who pre-order their copy!   Click here to learn more or to pre-order your copy.



  1. […] shared housing, and aging in place are only a few examples. Now that you have been thinking about how to get started and where you might want to live, there are a few things you should be asking […]

Women For Living in Community