Too Close to Dorm Life?

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any.  Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

My wife and I were at a friend’s place over the long weekend for a tobogganing party.  Temperatures in the last week made the tobogganing sub-par, but I was able to build a fairly good fort with the kids that were there (it was good igloo snow).  My wife and I normally get together with this set of friends every 6 to 8 weeks to have some laughs, play some board games and just hang out.  Some of these friends I have known for around 20 years, and we have stayed close the entire time.

My wife and I were talking about where we were going to live when we retired.  I jokingly told a couple of my friends that I was going to put up a tiny house in their back yard.  We talked about this for a little bit, with my wife still not really all that excited about this idea (or many of the others).

My friends kids are 7 and 3 right now, but we said that those ages worked out just about right to match our retirement date – we could move into one of their kid’s rooms.  I wouldn’t say that this is a concrete plan by any means, and I wouldn’t say that these friends are particularly in favour of this living arrangement, but in general (to me anyways) this type of living arrangement makes a lot of sense for older adults.  I can see the following as benefits:

Lower cost per person to live – Costs which are essentially fixed, like heating, property taxes, delivery charges for water, electricity and gas (which make up the majority of my household utility costs) would be significantly reduced.

More efficient use of space – Rather than having a total of 3,000 square feet of space for 4 adults in two houses, resulting in significant waste, both financially as well as space.  I don’t need that much space and I think that generally speaking most people don’t – cutting housing down by half would limit this waste.

Easier social interactions – Much like University, it is much easier to hang out if you don’t have to travel a significant period of time (or at all) to do.

The problem that I can see in living with a bunch of adults is the same problem that came up during school with a bunch of people – there will be days that people will not get along.  I didn’t really have any problems myself, but I saw what could happen between roommates, which did not always end very well.

Personally, I would prefer to have my own space in a Tiny house, but cohabitating is another option and would require significantly less cost and fewer resources.

Would you, or could you live together with friends?  What could you see as potential problems?

13 thoughts on “Too Close to Dorm Life?”

  1. Way too many issues, I side with your wife on this one. You must be to far removed from Uni to remember what it was like. Conflicts:
    -heat – can you agree on a heating and a/c temp.?
    – can also be a cost vs. comfort issue.
    -utilities – maybe you conserve and they like have every light of the house on
    -Holidays – they want to have their family and grandchildren over for christmas/easter/thanksgiving dinner the same day as you do, how do you accommodate
    -Laziness – what happens if he/she becomes lazy, how do you divide cleaning, cooking, shoveling snow, lawn maintenance without an argument each time – Remember just because you are friends does not mean that you keep your house to the same standard

    Issues aside you will not save that much. Generally people that decide to take on commune type living tend to invest in a larger house together. It might be cheaper than two houses but it will still have its added costs.

    My suggestion, move into a house with a granny suite and rent out one part. It might take a little investment but it it works out you will have someone else paying for the majority of your fixed expenses.

  2. My personality wouldn’t take well to such an arrangement. I live in a condo because I agree, its nice to share the bill for things which would be silly to fund otherwise. I enjoy my personal space though. I enjoy this balance and would likely carry it into my retirement years.

    For the points you’ve made, why not just move right into a seniors residence?

  3. Actually, the assistant priest in our Episcopal parish has done exactly what you are suggesting. He and a group of friends (some single, some married) decided years ago that when they got older they would all live together, and now that the group members are in their 60s, they have done so. He has occasionally describe it as their own personal retirement home, and has said that one of their hopes is that once some of them reach the point of needing nursing care, they will better be able to afford it as a group. We’ve heard some funnys stories about the adjustment period, but they are now about two years into this and still seem to be getting along just fine.

  4. Definitely agree with some of the other commenters in that your idea is most likely a disaster waiting to happen.

    Once all your kids move out, I bet you and your wife would much prefer to enjoy a simple life and relax instead of moving back in with friends “like the old days”. By moving into your friend’s house, you’re giving up everything you worked for when you were with your kids – decorating & renovating your house, establishing your own rules, living on your own, and just overall freedoms.

    I would say it might work out better if your friends have a basement apartment that you could rent out. What about that idea?

  5. I’m all for reducing our living spaces, but the arrangement you’re describing sounds like an old age home to me! (I’d rather not move into one of those this early.)

    I think you’re better off taking in boarders and saving your friendships!

  6. This is to Dan Brown, read the article properly; they have no kids! Nor does he want any. Doesn’t say if his wife wants them. However, I do agree that he could live in his friends basement apt if that were possible – if he had one.

  7. In response to Valerie and Kiester, think of it as an old age home where you get to choose all your fellow residents, and it sounds a lot better. It wouldn’t be quite the thing for me at 45 (when Dave hopes to retire), but I could see doing something like this a little later on in life.

  8. I could, but I would do *everything* in my power to avoid it. Perhaps it’s inherently selfish, but I’ve been burned way too many times in the past living with roommates – even friends. I tend to think it causes more headache than it’s worth. I really value my independence. Living with a spouse would probably be enough togetherness for me!

  9. I’ve considered the same concept, and discussed at a high level with a few friends, some receptive some not so much. I’ve also considered a fourplex or something similar (perhaps in the 600-900 sq ft unit ea)

    I currently live with 2 friends (who rent rooms in my house) as well as a boarder. The cost benefits (not to mention envirornmental & the fact it’s a more social experience), greatly out number any downsides in my mind. (Current age 26)

    I originally found this blog via the ERE forums though, so I may be alittle eccentric.

  10. “(Current age 26)”

    Are you married? Do you have children? Do you plan on having children? Do your friends plan on having children? Are you willing to rent to strangers when your friends decide this is no longer the lifestyle for them?

    This is definitely has to be a lifestyle choice as much as a financial one. At 26, it doesn’t surprise me that it can work. Your situation carries lower financial risk, but back to the original idea of owning a building with many other people… What if they want out? What if they want YOU out?

  11. I’m not married, no children neither do my current friends living with me. If (more likely when) they decide to move out, I’ll see if other friends wish to move in, if not I’ll look for other renters. (Currently I have one boarder, an imigrant from Iran, who has quickly became a friend of ours – despite the age gap of him being over 40)

    It clearly is a lifestyle choice, and unconventional by todays standards.

    I may easily change my mind in the future. As Labadie said:
    “Only dead men & fools never change their mind”

    Back to the original point though, if you bought a boarding house and/or multi-family dwelling with a group (presumably their open to the concept of alternate living arrangements) so if one of them or yourself wanted out it could simply be filled with tenants or other friends, or if everyone wanted out you’d be left with a rental property. If nothing else it’d be an interesting experiment and story to tell.

    For my current situation if I were to change my mind and want out, I’d simply start renting out the remainder of the house. (currently have 2 student rental properties with partners(friends))

  12. I’m 29. I spent six years living with roommates before moving in with my partner. Young friends about to start university often ask me about picking a roommate and this is my advice to them: don’t live with your friends. You can become friends with your housemates, but don’t become housemates with your friends.

    Why? With roommates (strangers), you have boundaries at the outset. They knock on your bedroom door before entering, don’t touch your dishes without asking, decide on a spot to leave the mail. As time goes by, and you get closer, you can erase some of those boundaries, by mutual agreement.

    But try to erect boundaries in an existing friendship? Create rules where things used to be relaxed and informal? That’s trouble.

  13. I’m 57 and introverted by nature. That’s not to say that I don’t like people but I love to withdraw into my own quiet world at times. I like having friends nearby but sure don’t want to live with them. As much as I love my husband, my idea of luxury is when he’s gone for a weekend. It takes certain kinds of people to pull this off. I do like the idea of a duplex or fourplex with friends. More power to you if you can make it work.

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