Communal living, or co-living, may conjure an array of images. To some it may be the hippy communes of the 1960s, to others a student flat with unwashed dishes stacked high and cleaning standards kept low. However, with changes in family structures and people feeling younger for longer, it seems we are moving towards a redefined co-living model; one which doesn’t much resemble either of these. Out of what is often presented as a gloomy UK housing picture come opportunities, not only for “generation rent” as the younger generation is sometimes portrayed, but also for those further on in life.
Flat sharing in your 40s is a reality for many; for some a finacial necessity but for others a personal choice. It has been more than forty-years since Mrs Thatcher spoke of a “property-owning democracy” so creating an ambition for a generation to own their own home. Like almost everything in our world, how we choose to live has changed considerably since then. More of us rent than before, although the cost of renting is higher than ever and the incentives to buy are greater than ever; especially for prvate landlords. With lower interest rates and with property prices rising year on year this trend is set to continue.
For many people in the UK, 'moving forward' in life has been synonyomous” with owning their own home, and thus living in a shared space later in life is sometimes perceived as “tantamount to going backwards”, so says David Michael, MD of a cohousing company. At the same time, the number of us living alone has climbed to almost one third of households, being especially prominent in those aged between 45 and 64.
But the tide may well be turning on the idea that the pursuit of finding a home is a journey travelled alone. There is a trend to sharing in your 40s and 50s and a number of websites inclusing Cohabitas, and some developers such as The Collective, are starting to create opportunities fr older provate renters to find suitabe property with like-minded and similar aged house mates. Long may it continue.