Cohousing – A Model For Housing That Suits Older People?

A gamg of older co-living friends in front of their apartment building
This scene was created by and is licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication
Would co-housing work for this group of seniors?

The Silver Tsunami1 has many people (especially aging adults) wringing their hands. The path to living comfortably in the future, with diminishing abilities, is far from clear.

It’s a challenge to find and retain staff to work in elder care facilities, which help people with activities of daily living, such as housekeeping, meal preparation, assistance with medications, dressing and toiletting2. This post is about another option that is less well known.

New Ground Cohousing3 provides housing to women over the age of 50. It located in Barnet, just north of London, England and has 25 units.

The women who started New Ground had a common idea about the place they would like to live as they got older. They didn’t want to live alone, but they didn’t see the social care that was on offer as an option. One person who was interviewed for the article linked below said, “They didn’t want to sit in a day-room singing Daisy Daisy and Pack Up Your Troubles for the rest of their lives.”

Anita Chaudhuri, who wrote the article, spoke with several people who live at New Ground. The interviews covered the 18 year process of finding and developing the project, and how it is managed.

Eight of the 25 homes at New Ground are social rent units, which means that eight homes at New Ground are financially accessible for women with very low incomes.

Having social rent units is part of the reason that developing New Ground took 18 years. It wasn’t easy to find a Housing Association4 that was willing to have units in a cohousing development.

New Ground manages its own affairs by consensus. The people Chadhuri spoke to said that training in consensus decision making had helped them to make it work.

The article also discusses how residents look out for each other. The residents describe what they did when stress for all of them was high during the COVID pandemic lockdown. As well, residents reported that they received informal support from neighbours, following surgeries for example.

Chadhuri reports that there are nine other cohousing projects that have been designed and built since the first one opened 20 years ago. Overall, her article provides valuable insights for people who are curious about cohousing as a housing model for older adults. Read more at The Guardian: ‘We Have Brothers, Sons, Lovers – But They Can’t Live Here!’ The Happy Home Shared By 26 Women



  1. Silver Tsunami refers to the post world war II population bulge (the baby boom) which will continue to swell the population of seniors for the next decade.
  2. Try: Employer-Provided Housing Sustains Elder Care Facilities
  3. Co-housing has individual housing units and communal spaces that support group activities.
  4. The United Kingdom Government mandates Local Councils and Housing Authorities to deliver social rent housing, where housing rents are based on household income.