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Communal living: an idea whose time has come, again

Modern approach to living with others could solve many problems

Communal living is a topic I have come back to, time and time again, over the years.

Imagine a group of seniors buying say a three- to five-acre piece of land. Each person or couple builds a small cottage for themselves. Each cottage is situated in such a way that everyone has privacy created by careful planting of shrubs and trees. All the cottages surround a large vegetable garden and small orchard with an outdoor dining table and garden chairs placed here and there in groups for conversation. There is a large greenhouse for growing seedlings for the garden, which also serves as a great spot for tea and a chat in bad weather.

The group realizes they don’t need individual cars so they buy a van and a couple of small eco-friendly cars. They invest in good equipment for the garden, for this is where they grow their own organic vegetables and fruit and get most of their exercise.

They build a bocce ball court where spirited games take place most of the year.

All the cottagers, realizing there are times when privacy is necessary, come up with a system of signaling their friends and neighbours when company is appreciated, or not.

During those times when sickness strikes, there are members of this new family to first, be aware, and second to help with practical needs. A bowl of soup delivered with love is sometimes as valuable and healing as medication.

As I am writing this I realize this same model would work just as well for young families. Imagine building a huge playground and tree forts for the kids. Imagine sending your kids out to play with the full knowledge they were safe, that your friends and neighbours are all known to your kids and are watching over them.

Maybe one mom stays home and looks after all the kids during the day as her paying job, which means moms and dads can rest easy knowing all is well.

Some of us are old enough to remember the hippy communes of the ’60s and ’70s, which were doomed to failure. But now that we are older and have some understanding of community I feel it would work. This has got to be better than millions of lonely people living alone hoping someone will visit.

I have heard of condo units being built with large inside common areas and communal kitchens but don’t know of anything like I am imagining.

What do you think? Do any of you have experience living communally? Did it work or did it drive you mad?