I should title this blog, Golden girls now live at the renovated mall. Or maybe ask, Where do you go when you want to downsize and be with friends? On a more serious tone, I could call it, Innovations in co housing with a limited budget. Housing options for seniors are getting more expensive and I wanted to explore different options for those who wish to live independently but still be have a community of their own.
What brought this on? I was reading two different articles that came together in my mind as solution to handle the urgent needs of affordable senior housing for those who do not have huge retirement savings. Most of what I will refer to has to with single older women but it certainly could apply to couples or single gents. The golden girl concept has been around for many years since the successful TV program of the same name portrayed a group of seniors sharing expenses and life’s adventures under one roof. A similar concept called Babayaga was started in France in 2012 and has moved to other countries and Canada.
…the idea (is) to create an exclusively female, self-governing, environmentally friendly cohousing collective for women who want to live independently into old age — yet within a supportive and fully engaged community. They would call it the Babayagas’ House after a supernatural being in Slavic folklore — a witch who offers guidance to younger women. …Most residents occupy small one-bedroom apartments; some share with roommates. Together, they live, eat and care for one another in the housing project, with no cooks, nurses or other professional staff. Each woman agrees to perform 10 hours of chores per week. The residents plan to pool resources for a doctor or nurse to visit monthly, and one small room that’s currently set aside for guests could serve as accommodation for medical staff if needed.
Sound interesting? Well the glitch is that it took years to convince the French government to contribute the funds to build the first Babayaga apartment house. Creating real co housing is a an expensive and lengthy preparation. You have to find similar families, invest in buying land and building homes and setting up a whole governing structure. It works well for many people and there are co housing communities all across the US.
To build such an apartment complex with government funding here in the US is doubtful. I can not see it getting on the list of local government budget priorities and when you bring in outside real estate investors, prices skyrocket.
So how to make a hybrid Babayaga? First, find your own tribe/posse so to speak and stake out some real estate for rent and start from the ground up with the same ideas of shared community. Also micro apartments are a new urban trend. Mall traffic is shriveling up due to the online buying wave. Enter article number two: a 188 year old renovated Mall with micro apartments on top floors. Maybe too urban for some but perfect for others: http://www.businessinsider.com/americas-first-shopping-mall-is-now-micro-apartments-2016-10
Finding medium range affordable housing for seniors who want to downsize and be independent, may require thinking out of the box.