Seniors’ Housing — Thinking Outside the Box

There’s no question that we could use more senior-friendly housing in Caledon.  But while we are waiting for the various levels of government to  come to our rescue, here is something to think about:

When I was growing up we had two elderly ladies living next door, the two Misses Nolan.  Three doors down in the other direction, there were three Misses Hersey. My ex-husband had four aunts sharing their family home. Some of these women were widows, some had never married or were divorced, some had had careers and had retired back home, some had never left.  Now, times have changed, and more likely than not, the family homestead is long gone, and you may not even like your siblings, but as someone who has lived communally for most of my adult life, I can tell you home-sharing can be a viable option.

Depending on your own level of tolerance for togetherness, there are a variety of different ways to approach this. If you have a close-knit group of friends, you could decide whose house has the most potential in terms of a convenient location,spaciousness, and ease of accessibility, both outside and inside the house.  Then the others could sell (or rent out) their own homes and use some of the income to pay rent to the host home owner.  I’m sometime asked, when people find out I share a home with other non-related people, “How do you handle the kitchen?”  My response is “We cook in it!”

If this sounds too close for comfort, but you really are friends, consider creating bed-sitting rooms within one house, with small kitchenettes for day-to-day meals.  This can be done within existing zoning bylaws, as the Town of Caledon has defined  a single family house as one which has one kitchen, which is further defined as a room with a full gas or electric range.  Microwave ovens are fine.

The most conservative approach would be to create a legal, code-compliant apartment in your home, which would then allow two households to function totally independently and yet still be close enough to look out for each other.   At this point, the Town of Caledon broadly allows secondary suites in most areas.  This is certainly the most expensive option, but if you have sufficient equity in your home to finance the approval and construction process, the rental income generated would quickly offset the costs.

Of course, you could also opt to purchase a house together with friends and occupy it as tenants-in-common.  If you choose to go this route you would be wise to have a lawyer draw up an agreement that would spell out the rights and responsibilities of each owner and to make sure the will of each owner spells out what should happen with their share of the ownership when the time comes, in consultation with the other owners.

So, there are options available.  I’d love to hear your thoughts about them and whether you think one of them might work for you!