USA, boom in intergenerational cohousing: more and more young people are choosing elderly roommates

More and more young people in the USA are choosing older roommates: intergenerational residences are growing, and with them the benefits for all ages.

Gianluca Riccio

The latest housing trend in America has nothing to do with furniture, but with people: there's a boom in intergenerational roommates.

Described as being separated by at least a generation, intergenerational roommate agreements are on the rise in the US: since 1971, intergenerational homes have even quadrupled.

Young and old together again

What is the cause of this new phenomenon? We are spoiled for choice: growing isolation among the elderly, constantly increasing rents almost everywhere (especially near coastal cities), increasing average life expectancy, aging of the population, decreasing birth rate, increasing university fees . And it's just a minimal list.

The big picture is this: Older people have space available and tend to be happy to have a young person around.

Result? As of March 2021, there were as many as 59,7 million intergenerational residents in America living with multiple generations under the same roof.

Intergenerational roommates: stories of new life

“It was perfect: Judith became like my family,” he says Nadia Abdullah, a robotics student at MIT who at 22, in 2019, became a roommate of a 64-year-old lawyer.

The arrangement (700 a month plus help around the house) put her less than 10 miles from Boston and 30 minutes from her robotics job in Beverly Mass. Judith and Nadia were matched together through Nesterly, a rentals specially designed for intergenerational roommates.

And it's not the only example

Nesterly is just one of the services that explores the benefits of intergenerational cohousing: older people offer stability and experience, younger ones offer companionship and support.

In Canada there is a similar service called Homeshare, which has other great stories to tell. Among these, the cohabitation of the 85-year-old Michael Wortis, a retired physics professor, with the 27-year-old Siobhan Ennis, graduate student in health sciences.

Intergenerational tenants
Michael Wortis, left, and Siobhan Ennis: intergenerational and happy roommates.

Similar Cases Are Increasingly Popular: The Washington Post said even that of an opera singer and other musicians who live (without even paying rent) in a retirement community, with the agreement to occasionally perform concerts for the residents.

Because it is an important trend

Biologically speaking, intergenerational situations such as these would, ARE, a natural state of company.

While nearly all animals die quickly after becoming too old to procreate, humans are able to live decades past the point of infertility.

Scholars attribute this credit to our intelligence and life experiences, which passed on to the next generation act as a secondary way of ensuring that our genetics are passed on.

In summary? If you can live long enough to explain to your children and grandchildren exactly what mushrooms they can eat, which snakes are poisonous, how to hunt with a bow and arrow, that offspring will have a better chance of survival than a parallel household than losing their parents soon. .

Is this a sufficient reason to hope for a future of increasingly "intergenerational" lives? For me yes.

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Alberto Robiati and Gianluca Riccio guide readers through scenarios of the future: the opportunities, risks and possibilities we have to create a possible tomorrow.