Communal living is on the rise around the world, particularly in the form of cohousing — when strangers live in separate living quarters, yet share a common area, meals, and often, more intimate parts of their lives such as childcare. The modern-day communal living arrangement, whether that be single-family home communities, or apartment complexes for young adults, is a far cry from the hippie communes of the 1960s — in which residents would often share everything, finances included. Modern day cohousing arrangements seek to marry a need for community, and a more traditional concern with privacy and individualism.
So why the increase? Simple: People are reporting ever increasing feelings of loneliness, much of which, according to architect Grace Kim, can be attributed to our built environment. “The danger of achieving [the American Dream] is a false sense of connection, and an increase in social isolation,” she said in a recent TED talk. Our single-family homes and our suburban lifestyles are created for individualist living, and contributing to our global isolation epidemic. This increased isolation is leading to earlier deaths for our elderly, and higher rates of depression and other serious health issues amongst the population at large, forcing people to reconsider what the ideal living arrangement may look like for them.