Leading on from the Star Observer’s piece earlier in the year questioning if older LGBTQI folks are being forgotten about, the concept of co-living was brought into focus.

What happens to us queer folks as we get older and have to start to contend with the questions of, who will take care of us? The answer has to be, us! Mainly because, let’s face it – no-one else is going to.

It’s a conversation that’s happening around all types of dinner tables in Australia. And yet until recently, in LGBTQI circles at least, co-living has only just started being talked about in a way that could be thought of as a catalyst for any kind of change or action.

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We are all marching toward the same inevitable end with our blinders on about the perils of the journey along the way – perils such as loneliness, financial hardships or scarier still, ending up in an government aged care facility, or horror of unexpected horrors for those who take a dim view of religion, a faith-based or religious aged care institution.

With no hope of escape!

But it doesn‘t have to be like that and thankfully, co-living and the flexibility of the model that it describes could be the answer we are all talking about amongst ourselves and yet no-one is saying out loud – until now.

The Golden Girls were definitely on to something!

The Golden Girls had the right idea – four single older people living together, sharing the burdens of living, loneliness, loss and yes, cheesecake is a rather lovely way to see out your winter years and the beauty of the concept is the flexibility of it’s execution.

Picture it, Australia 2023. People of a certain age can have an interest in a property anywhere in the country, be it urban, suburban or regional, with a group of like minded friends or people with similar interests and values and actually have a secured and legally binding mortgage, split between the occupants of the house – the house is purpose built with all bedrooms being master sized with en-suites and large and functional common areas in other parts of the dwelling.

Or picture it, Australia 2024 – a large parcel of land somewhere rural, away from the ever increasing danger of costal inundation, with enough room for a few chickens, a verdant kitchen garden and maybe a goat. You and your good friends, made up of a few singles and couples, are each the proud owners of a plot of land where everyone can build their dream fully self-contained and sustainable cottage with enough room for a small pet or two and common areas for group dining or socialising for when you feel like it. The little community shares the spoils of it’s inhabitants’ talents from baked goods and crafts, handmade furniture crafted in little workshops and more cerebral endeavours such as chess and deep and meaningful conversations.

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Or picture it, Australia 2025 – a whole community, made up of multiple dwelling types, single occupancy to groups sharing custom spaces and low density buildings, but where ultimately the sense of community and shared resources is one that battles the spectre of doom and sense of despair about ageing.

Share the costs, share the benefits!

Another benefit of the co-living movement is the ability to share resources and costs. After all there are benefits to be found in bulk purchasing power! The ability to be able to pay into a ‘house kitty’, which then pays for the cleaning service, the laundry service, the private nursing services – all expensive necessities from a certain point in life and yet much harder and more expensive to access as a single person, or even a single couple in a household. 

And speaking of expensive – the ability to access the housing market is a quickly disappearing concept for many, especially as we age and perhaps haven’t had the chance to buy into the property market yet. 

Add to that having to contend with the unachievable deposit requirements to own a property and it starts to look impossible.

However, if you were able to split the cost of that mortgage with a few trusted people (a real option available now), suddenly the idea of home ownership seems within grasp!

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Suddenly the weight of the ‘what if’ seems less of a burden because you know you won’t be alone – if your knees are acting up that day, you know that your good friend in the next room or the cottage next door has your back with getting your milk from the shop that morning – which incidentally, because you’re part of a co-living community with a little grocery store, your buddy doesn’t even have to go that far!

Extended overseas working holidays? – Yes please!

Another cohort for which this concept of co-living might be very attractive is those single professionals who might look to take extended overseas working holidays – imagine that security knowing that your little slice of paradise back home is safe and secure for the long term, not only because you own a secure piece of the pie but you’ve got life long friends back there watering your garden, feeding the kitty or indeed, keeping the squatters away.

It’s definitely something to think about and another option that you might not have realised was a reality available to you now. At this early stage it might take a bit of time and expense to get the legalities squared away but there are entities coming along that have recognised that this is a unique growth industry just crying out for associated goods and services so it’s very likely you’ll see co-living in a community near you sooner rather than later – your neighbourhood might already be playing host to your very own Golden Girls and you wouldn’t even know it!

 

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