Walker“Retirement is the ugliest word in the language.” – Ernest Hemingway

The baby boomers are making people think differently about retirement. Mitch Anthony in the New Retirementality explains that, “Most people don’t really want retirement as we know it. What they want is freedom to pursue their own goals and interests.”

“When people talk today of retiring, they are rarely speaking of retired living; they are usually speaking of emancipated living. They want to be free to pursue their goals, at their pace, and free to find a sense of balance in their lives.”

This sense of balance includes intentional community and one that isn’t a life of isolation. What is an intentional community? One academic conference defined it in these words, “These housing innovations serve as alternatives to large scale retirement communities, age-qualified gated communities, or to anonymous life in existing single-family neighborhoods or condos and apartment complexes.”

They write, “Innovative housing models that emphasize close-knit community life are springing up around the country. And they are finding special appeal to midlife and older adults. Mutually enhancing and supportive housing arrangements may enable people to live longer and more independently in their own homes, stay socially engaged, mix with multiple generations, stretch retirement savings, and enjoy the benefits of stimulating exchanges of ideas and experiences with neighbors.”

“These housing models range from the village-like intentional ‘cohousing’ communities with shared commons areas such as guest quarters, dining halls, garden spaces, daycare centers, and on-site cooperative health care, to so-called ‘naturally occurring retirement communities‘ or NORCs that are existing neighborhoods in which longtime residents have ‘aged in place,’ and in which resident pull together to establish support services to enable them to remain in their homes.

Charles Durrett wrote the book called, Senior Cohousing: A Community Approach to Independent Living. He wrote it to answer all the questions that “he had asked himself about senior cohousing. He wrote it because he felt he had discovered an exciting quality-of-life secret that had to be shared. That secret is the physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy life of the people he met while visiting senior cohousing communities in Europe. He hadn’t seen so many people have so much fun since he lived in a college dorm.”

AARP has an interesting article by Barry Yeoman called Rethinking the Commune and notes the communities of gay and lesbians. So far though, the LGBT answer has been traditional retirement communities. I think more could be considered with regards to the house or community of houses. I bought the URL at Hubplex.com a year ago because I have ideas about how I want to rethink retirement living and build my own version — a house built on the hub and spoke model… but more on that another time.

Are you interested in learning more about the cohousing movement? AARP compiled a list of great resources. Check it out.