I’ve always been a bit of an envision-er (read: dreamer) when it comes to my future. I can project what I want the future to look like and work towards that goal. Sometimes my vision comes to fruition and sometimes it changes. Lately, I’ve been envisioning my future living in a small-ish house surrounded by other small houses set around a community garden and fire pit. This vision is a place where neighbors work equally together, hang out in the lush community edible garden, and sing songs around a roaring fire. Maybe that’s just the hippy in me trying to get out. But my focus is where I want to live through retirement; a community where neighbors help neighbors.
As I shared this vision with my spouse, he quickly slapped a dose of reality on me and said, “There’s no such place. You’re dreaming of utopia. It doesn’t work.” His words weren’t quite as harsh as he chuckled at the thought of himself tending vegetables in a commune-style living arrangement. (See links at the end of this post for some close fits of this style of living.)
I personally don’t know of any community where this style of living is occurring, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Living in a neighborhood where your neighbors are helpful seems beneficial on many levels, especially as we inch closer to retirement.
First, let me explain that this would be a community that I’d want to grow into with like-minded, similar aged people. It isn’t necessarily where I’d want to move to during my retirement years. Growing old with people you know is comforting on some levels; you have a history with those neighbors and would more likely than not have deep, meaningful conversations well into old age.
The benefits of finding a small-ish house in the perfect neighborhood would mean the house would potentially be paid off in full by the time we were 65, a definite plus during retirement. As income becomes finite, the bills need to be finite as well. Having a mortgage payment or even rent isn’t ideal.
Tending a garden with others could mean less work (hopefully!) for the same amount of bounty. It would also keep us healthy by adding fresh fruit and veggies to our diet at a minimal price. The exercise would be an excellent way to keep health costs low, an important consideration during retirement.
Sharing common land would mean lower costs and less work for maintaining a lawn. As people get older, it gets harder to keep up the benefits of outdoor space. Sharing the space would mean sharing the expense, even if it means hiring gardeners to tend to the lawn as we aged.
As people get older, it’s not uncommon for their mobility to be reduced. If I lived in a collaborative neighborhood, we could share the expense of an occasional cab ride or combine our shopping lists and have groceries delivered.
All of these sound like terrific benefits to living in an “utopian” style community, especially with retirement in mind. The closest I’ve found are pocket communities designed by Ross Chapin Architects. I’ve posted about this designer before and I love his home designs. This might be a future possibility.
Though these may not discuss specific neighborhoods, these additional resources share some ideas that I’ve explained in my ideal community:
- Wasatch Community Garden
- Green Towns
- Sponsored by Inhabitat: Re-Burbia (this is what I envision in my ideal neighborhood – shared backyards!)
What’s your vision of retirement? Neighborhoods?