Meet The Movers and Shakers behind the Oak Hill Co-living Concept
Ten years ago, I moved to Rockwood. I wanted to escape a busy town where I had lived most of my life – but it no longer suited who I was becoming, and I felt out of place. I was seeking a quieter pace of life in a pleasant setting to live my senior years. I found a residence, in old, downtown Rockwood, which reminded me of my childhood home where, at one time, there were 7 family members of 3 generations living together. Always someone around to give a hand, tell a story, listen to the hockey game. I could choose to retreat to my room to read (eldest child, only daughter has some perks). Two years ago, I met several local women who were talking about another way of seniors living differently. Some of the descriptions were ‘a contemporary approach to Housing Ourselves’ or ‘a community approach to Independent Living’. I began to ask questions and explore where and how I would be living my next few years. There are many older folk who are now seeking just the kind of housing that is coming soon to Rockwood. The women who began this journey could think small and dream big.
I realize I can live comfortably in smaller space. I am ready for freedom from the responsibilities and expense of maintaining house and property on my own. As all costs go up, sharing space and expenses make sense economically. Owning a share of a property means I would have equity to sell on or leave to my estate. I believe that shared living means a simpler life style, less anxiety and loneliness, healthier elder years.
I intend to be one of the first residents in Oak Hill. I know there will be others such as yourself, joining me. I am sure you will be ready for adventure and fun, a person with wisdom, life experiences and skills to share. I know we will find joie de vivre as we form a new community of friends.
At age eighty two I applied for an apartment in a three tiered retirement residence and was shocked to be turned down because I might outlive my finances. Then I realized that at $4,000 or a possible $7,000 a month I might indeed live inconveniently long! I needed an affordable, attractive alternative and found it in co-housing.
In Rockwood, such an alternative was taking shape. To join in, I could sell my house and use part of the proceeds to invest in a 1/6 share in the proposed property along with five other like minded folk. We would each have a private bed-sitting suite and share a common kitchen, dining, living, laundry and garden area. I would be ‘at home’ in a pleasant residential area within walking distance of all useful amenities and have the security and company of five potential friends. Financially: My government pensions and the difference between the value of my house and my ‘share’ could cover ongoing expenses like taxes, insurance, utilities, upkeep and hired help with some leeway for extravagances. My equity in my percentage of the property could be sold if I needed to move to a nursing facility or would pass into my estate if I died at the home.
Eureka! Now all I need is to be ‘acceptable’ to five other shareholder!
In 2014 my family moved my parents from a retirement home into a nursing home at my father’s request. I started to think forward about what type of housing situation I might want when I reached their age. Up until that day I never considered the cost of retirement or nursing home living. That changed radically when our family ‘did the math’ about our parents’ choices. On the day we moved our parents into the nursing home we estimated that our parents had enough money to cover the cost of staying in the two nursing home rooms for three years. My mother and father wanted to have two private rooms at the nursing home like they did in the retirement home, one as a sitting room and one as their bedroom.
I came away from that day knowing that I would be challenged to be able to afford most retirement home living options with my present income; and that I did not want to spend my last days sharing a ward room in a nursing home should I needed long term care. I shared my frustration with Anne and she too started to be concerned about being able to afford her future ‘retirement housing options’.
‘There had to be another solution’. My search began at my computer searching for alternative affordable retirement housing options. That is how I found co-housing for seniors. I researched the history of senior’s co-housing and places where it was available. Anne and I liked the shared home alternative option and we started the Rockwood Co-Living Interest Group to share the information with other people to try to generate interest for a local home. There are any different versions of co-housing, co-living and shared housing to be found around the world. The differences between them can be quite distinct determined by factors like location, financing, interests and group dynamics. Janette, the owner of the original home and property now known as Oak Hill, has customized her shared home version to fit her vision.
Since I plan to continue working and I see clients in my present home, I will not be making a move at this time. Seniors co-living will be my preferred downsizing housing solution in the future as an affordable, supportive alternative to nursing home living.
For now I am actively involved in bringing Oak Hill Co-Living to a reality at 125 Richardson Street in Rockwood. The Rockwood Co-Living Interest Group’s role in launching Oak Hill Co-Living is almost complete. Oak Hill move in is scheduled for Christmas of 2017, with the remaining work to continue into the New Year. Janette is now meeting with prospective co-owners and will be hosting ‘come and see’ open house hours.
The Rockwood Co-Living Interest Group will be available to Oak Hill upon request as a co-living/co-housing resource if needed. If you would like to meet with the Rockwood Co-Living Interest Group about a property in Rockwood that you would like to adapt as a co-living home, please contact Elisabeth Hines at firstname.lastname@example.org