Shared Living: Sharing & caring in the 21st century – Part 3

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 second on January 9. 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

Nikki, a single parent who has lived in a shared household for the last 20 years describes the benefits of shared living as the “3 E’s – Environmental, Economic and Emotional.” Environmental for the smaller ecological footprint per person; Economic as it has allowed her to own and pay off her house; and Emotional because for her and her daughter it has provided an extended “family” with whom they still maintain close contact.

Historically, most cultures have used shared-living arrangements of one kind or other. In 1900, for example, 57% of adults over 65 lived in extended family homes. The advent of the social safety net in the 1940s and 50s and the need for increased mobility for work and education caused the shift away from shared living most often characterised as extended family households.

The last three decades have seen a rekindling of interest in shared living in entirely new ways as illustrated by the following websites:

  • Roommates 4 Boomers at which is a matching site for Women 50 & Older:
  • CoAbode at which is a single mothers house sharing website:
  • Solterra Cohousing Ltd at is a shared housing model primarily for independent seniors in Ontario;
  • Abbeyfield is another model developed for independent seniors; and
  • Baba Yagas in Paris, France, is another example of a community of older artistic women.

Making it work!

While many of us have lived in shared households at one time or other, they have most often been as youths and were often a source of stress. However, in today’s world we have the benefit of resources that make it much easier to maintain a more agreeable environment. One shared living participant thinks of it as : “curated” living — not just random roomies. Typically shared households develop their own guidelines on a whole range of topics including pets, meal preparation, house and grounds care and maintenance, financial and any other considerations.

It starts by meeting and talking with others interested in the shared living lifestyle. Not surprisingly, many people have considered it in their future usually with friends. Moving from talking about it to acting on it is often the hardest step, but once taken can move very quickly towards realizing the dream.

One of most accessible options is a shared household because it is essentially a single family home with a bathroom for each bedroom (ideally) but only one kitchen. Large single family homes lend themselves to this option. Ken Norwood, architect and long-time proponent of shared living said this means you “co-own a mansion and have more for less.”

As pointed out earlier each household develops its own vision and values. As an example, when it comes to food and meals, in some shared households the individuals prepare their own food and in others, main meals of the day are prepared by taking turns. Eating together is one of those activities that supports social connection and has been identified as major contributor to our health and well-being

More food and friends a la cohousing. Photo courtesy of Marc Paradis
More food and friends a la cohousing. Photo courtesy of Marc Paradis

The vision and values that are developed by the participants in each household may vary quite a bit and ultimately influences how each home hits the ground. The vision of one of our colleagues is quite clear as follows: The vision for our next shared living home will have five separate bed-sitting rooms with private bath of about 300 square feet with a morning bar and separate patio. We will share living, dining, kitchen rooms and office, shops and studio spaces and maybe a greenhouse. We will each prepare an evening meal once a week and do our own thing or flex what happens on the other 2 days. Some gardening / maintenance tasks will be done by residents, some by hired contractors.

For more examples check in to some of the previous segments here or you can access at the blog

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 2 appeared on January 9.