Homesharing is in the news again and it makes total sense to us. With a rapidly aging population and no real conclusive housing strategy in place for assisting seniors with downsizing, the concept of homesharing is gaining more and more traction and that’s making headlines across North America. The team here at Golden Girls Canada has been talking about the topic for a while now and today we’re throwing the spotlight on strategies for how to share your space, if you have space to share! If you’re the owners of a large estate home, or maybe even a glorious, century old farmhouse, this blog’s for you!

A recent article in a local GTA newspaper shared the experience of one community organizer who is determined to help communities, and developers, see opportunities for seniors’ housing in a new way. Heather Broadbent, a local historian, has this to say about repurposing heritage farm homes: “Historically,” she says, “farmers had big families and hired people as well, so they built very big old farmhouses.” When the time comes that these properties are sold off to developers for new home builds, Broadbent suggests they “could make ideal homes for seniors . . . .. Places for mom and dad to downsize into, and then the offspring could buy in the subdivision.”

It’s a best of all worlds scenario that sees seniors able to downsize but remain in a familiar place and to live with the security of other like-minded seniors, sharing the same space. While such homes would no doubt need some upgrades and adaptations (stair lifts, elevators and accessible washrooms all come to mind) her group thinks the benefits to a developer outweigh the costs and points to successful examples of similar projects in the US. Broadbent says: “the positive feedback a builder or developer would receive for completing a project like this (and) the way the concept could help meet requirements for seniors and affordable housing,” makes this “more than feasible.”

We couldn’t agree more and take it one step further by offering up this “in a perfect world” scenario: If you own a beautiful old farmhouse and the land that surrounds it, but you’re aging gracefully and it’s time to sell? Don’t include your home in the land sale, but make the land sale conditional on the developer renovating your home, making it accessible, affordable and attainable housing – perfectly suitable for homesharing!

Similarly, the team here at Golden Girls Canada proposes our own solution to the looming seniors housing crunch and it’s perfect for those who are currently rambling around in one of the large estate homes.  It may once have housed your entire multi-generational family but is now home to only one or two people – the original couple who purchased the house or even, if widowed or divorced, only one.

An almost empty house means a significant amount of square footage wasted. It’s square footage that could (and did!) provide ample living space for several people so it’s time to rethink the home and its layout. Many such homes already have multiple bathrooms and several communal space areas including both a living room and a family room, and sometimes even a den or second family room in the finished basement.

While multiple bedrooms could provide private space for seniors choosing this as a homesharing option, there are several other shared space options as well. The living room can become a central gathering place for morning coffee chats. And that family room? It’s an ideal place for setting up a card table, watching TV or reading quietly, but still in the comfort and security of the company of others.

There are endless possibilities for how to both share the space an estate home has to offer and create private rooms for those times when you just don’t feel like company. We’ve already talked quite a bit, in previous blogs, about the benefits of homesharing – just add this strategy to the list of options for how to make homesharing work best for you.

The percentage of population deemed to be considered “senior” here in Canada, currently sits at about 15.6% or approximately 6 million Canadians aged 65 or older. By 2030, that number is expected to rise exponentially to around 23% or 9.5 million Canadians. We need to start thinking “outside the box” when it comes to senior housing solutions. Estate homes and farmhouses are just two strategies and we’ve talked in previous blogs about a host of others too. What’s your idea? If you have a homesharing story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to know more about homesharing, how it works and how to connect with other like-minded adults interested in learning more, contact Dorothy Mazeau, (SRES) an Accredited Senior Real Estate Specialist and owner of Golden Girls Canada operated by Golden Homesharing Connections.

Want to know more?

Tune in to the Zoomer Radio 740AM show “From a Woman’s Perspective” the first Saturday each month and listen to Dorothy dish on housing options!

Invite Dorothy to speak at your next service club, church or social group meeting. Her presentation *An Introduction to Golden Girls Living * offers plenty of food for thought!