Multi-generational housing in Fort Myers and Cape Coral

Multi Generational Housing – is it in your future?

I have been intrigued with the co-housing concept for years. Recently I ran into a gentleman that is building multigenerational housing here in the Fort Myers/Cape Coral area and seeing his model home re-ignited my interest in the concept. In this brief article I will include some links to resources and spur some thinking on your part. The bottom line is that I am talking about shared resources, shared commonality of purpose, and a shared social setting that will improve lifestyle, financial security, and overall wellbeing.

Too many multi-generational or shared housing situations are caused by accident and are not planned. With no clear goals or plans, these situations are reactionary; or Dad dies, so Mom moves in with you; or Daughter gets divorced, has no job, and moves back home with her kid; or a financial crisis hits friends and hey move in “for a while”. Most of these situations don’t work out long term or are stressful for those who don’t plan for them. Indeed the housing itself is not designed for what it is being used for.  For me this spells opportunity.

The opportunity is that sharing of housing is an area that is poised for growth. There is a need for plans, ideas, as well as  housing designed for sharing; support for not just the mechanics and legal side of sharing,  but the emotional needs that arise in the process.

The sit-com “Golden Girls” depicted the funny antics of four women sharing a house in the suburbs.  The idea is certainly not new.  The New York times reported that according to the census bureau, the percentage of woman over 65 that chose not to live alone has grown to 3.8%, up from 2.96 percent a decade ago. Companionship and finances are cited as the two main reasons. There is a website woman can go to register and look for likely roommates to share housing with. (Click on Image to right.

Multi-generational homes are also on the rise. A multi-generational home means two or three generations living together, such as parents or in-laws and their adult children, as well as skipped generations, such as grandparents living with grandchildren. Most of these households were not planned. Not the housing, t not the finances, and certainly not he emotional needs of those living there.

We certainly can agree that sharing a resource among multiple users makes sense. My brother  Bill and I shared a boat for years.  It sat unused for most of its life. Even if one of us used it one day a week, it made less sense to own 100% of that boat then it did for each of us to own 50%.   Vacation homes (See buying with partners) are also easy to share. Why not housing?

Some benefits:

  1. Financial

  2. Companionship

  3. Health

  4. Peace of mind

  5. You can have “more”

Negatives

  1. Loss of Privacy

  2. Difficult to exit

  3. Ownership issues

  4. Specialized housing may be needed.

The negatives I have listed above can all be addressed to most peoples’ satisfaction, and cannot be ignored. In my opinion, the positives far outweigh any negatives associated with the concept.

By the way, I have a house that I have listed for sale as a broker. It I has a separate apartment attached to the home.  (It is now rented out).   Is it multi-generational?  Could be. In fact I recently added that hyphenated word to the description last week after seeing Fremars Multi-generational home in Cape Coral that they designed and built. It is  basically is a stealth duplex (looks like a single family home) that has a side entrance for the small apartment and a connecting door between the door homes.

If we take shared housing to its logical ideal, we come to Co-Housing. “Cohousing communities are intentional, collaborative neighborhoods created with a little ingenuity. They bring together the value of private homes with the benefits of more sustainable living. That means residents actively participate in the design and operation of their neighborhoods, and share common facilities and good connections with neighbors. All in all, they stand as innovative and sustainable answers to today’s environmental and social problems.” (Previous quote from this site about co-housing - click image to upper left)

We need more housing designs with multiple “master bedroom” suites; with shared kitchens and laundries and work and live areas.  The designs are relatively easy and will be fun to  create. 

If you are interested in a multi-generational house or co housing, please reach out to me - especially if you would like to own or have us build such a home or community.  We have control of ten acres of waterfront here in Lee County that would be ideal for such a sustainable community – currently for sale at $299,000, and/or we are anxious to build and develop multi-generational homes.

 

Side note: I am often asked this questions, “Aren’t condominiums a form  of co-housing?”  Indeed they CAN BE – but they are missing the important emotional bond and commonality of purpose.  Indeed they do a good job in sharing some of the amenities costs. But the percentage of common areas that are of little benefit to the owner (like hallways for example) is overly large and generally eliminated in shared housing and co-housing.