Shared Living: Sharing & caring in the 21st century – Part 2

Editor’s Note:

Revelstoke resident Marc Paradis is a proponent of shared housing as one way of making the sharing economy work for individuals. Over the course of three articles he discusses this concept and its advantages for individuals and families. The first article appeared in The Revelstoke Current January 5 and the third will be published on January 13. He has also organized a presentation on shared living and cohousing called Sharing & Caring in the 21st Century, sponsored by the North Colombia Environmental Society, in the Macpherson Room at the Community Centre on Thursday, January 14, at 7 pm.


There has been increasing interest in shared living arrangements as an alternative housing option for individuals, like Boomers, looking for more out of life, and young people looking at different ways of ‘unlocking housing options’ in expensive housing markets. As one architect who designed shared housing for three older couples said, who would “want to grow old in isolation or in an institutional setting? How do you age gracefully in place?”

For example, the three women in the Shadowlawn co-owned house mentioned in the article below who were on NBC television’s Today Show in November 2014 said they have about 100 hits a day on their website These women have written a book about it called My House, Our House: Living Far Better for Far Less in a Cooperative Household. For reasons of companionship, support and affordability, they decided to live together – similar to The Rare Birds in Kamloops. For others it answers the million dollar question: “How do you enhance you quality of life while reducing your ecological footprint and save money at same time?”

While it may not be the dominant way of living, it is gaining increasing momentum and the more people are exposed through media like your publication the more they realize that it may well be a realistic and accessible option for them.

By Marc Paradis

The Golden Girls sitcom from the 1990s was a great idea that has finally come of age. In fact, house sharing has been growing dramatically over the last 3 decades and is an incredible opportunity for older folks looking to downsize and for young people looking to enter the housing market.

“The sharing economy is inspiring innovative shared housing arrangements: From millennials sharing rented mansions, to baby boomers sharing mortgages, increasing numbers of (folks) are opting for a cheaper lifestyle, richer in companionship.”

An article from the March 2014 The Christian Science Monitor describes shared housing as an increasingly popular lifestyle choice in the US as much as in Canada.

A recent article in the Georgia Straight publication about The Vancouver Collective House Network talks about “millennials in mansions” and “collective housing unlocking housing options” in Vancouver.

Vancouver, which we know is a very expensive housing market, has about 50 collective houses in the Vancouver Collective House Network. They are throughout many of the neighbourhoods in the city and provide a very dynamic choice for those looking for housing options.

Shared housing is increasingly the option of choice for a range of older adults looking for more out of life. Some reasons are economic, some social, some ecological, perhaps security and combinations of the foregoing as well as other personal reasons.

Cohousing can be fun, like this community playground and climbing wall. Photo courtesy of Marc Paradis
Cohousing can be fun, like this community playground and climbing wall. Photo courtesy of Marc Paradis

If you stop to think and ask the question: “How can I enhance my quality of life, reduce my ecological footprint and save money at the same time?” What might your answer be?

Shared housing was the answer for The Rare Birds in Kamloops. The three couples and three singles in their shared home (previously home owners) collectively bought the land, designed the house and had it built to suit their purposes. Each participant has private space consisting of a bed / sitting room and private bath of around 300 square feet and they share kitchen, dining, living rooms and other common spaces.

Another example is the three women of the Shadowlawn household featured on the My House Our House website. They define a cooperative household as “a shared housing partnership of two or more unrelated people who co-own, reside in, and jointly manage a residence to gain financial, social, lifestyle, environmental and other benefits.”

The women of the Shadowlawn household have had so much interest that they have been on TV on NBC Today Show, started the My House Our House website and have written a book about their experience.

The Shadowlawn household is an existing house modified to accommodate house sharing. The Rare Birds in Kamloops and other households in Australia, the US and other parts of Canada were specifically designed for shared living and aging gracefully in place.

The Christian Science Monitor article mentioned earlier talks about a project in Maine with 3 older couples. The article suggests “that even deep-pocketed, design-conscious people in the US are becoming interested in the notion of sharing living space with unrelated adults at home.”

Richard Renner (the architect who designed their home) says “There’s a different model [emerging]. We’re finding other clients are thinking about it, and at some point, I’ll think about it — about not wanting to grow old in isolation or in an institutional setting. How do you age gracefully in place?”

Some designs have the private bed-sitting rooms containing options from gas fireplaces to a “morning bar” allowing a resident to have toast and coffee in the morning or wine and cheese that’s kept in an under-counter fridge. Designing from scratch provides much more flexibility.

Other options in shared homes have included elevators or space for a future elevator. Kitchens containing more than one cooking surface, multiple sinks, multiple fridges and dishwashers are features of some of the shared houses we have encountered. Some have studios, shops and other amenities particular to the group.

For more examples check in to the next segment again here or you can access at the blog

For more information please go to

Marc Paradis is a Revelstoke resident who does presentations on cohousing and shared living. He can be reached at

Part 1 in this series appeared on The Revelstoke Current on January 5 and Part 3 will be published on January 13.