What are the benefits?
One of the main reasons collaborative housing is gaining interest is because of the many benefits it can deliver - to individual households and to Australians at large.
Affordability and value for money
Collaborative housing offers potential to make buying or renting a home cheaper, particularly in Australia’s largest cities where affordable housing is hard to come by. Trading off private space for shared space means some costs can be shared and overall costs per household will be lower. Another way to look at it is better value for money spent. There is also potential to save money via lower per-household utility bills and sharing of cars and household goods.
A helping hand and connected community
Help and skills, including child minding and support for the elderly, can be more easily traded in a collaborative housing setting. Collaborative housing offers similar privacy and autonomy to conventional housing, but with more of a community feel. It allows you to live as part of a connected community and in proximity to people you enjoy - whether it's a few households or a much larger group.
Health and well-being
There is good evidence that being part of a supportive community improves physical, emotional and mental health. The informal social contact provided by collaborative housing reduces the risk of social isolation and greatly improves wellbeing.
Better use of resources
In collaborative housing communities, sharing often extends beyond physical space to include equipment, tools, transport and other items. Communities typically use space more efficiently and have the critical mass to support food gardens and other collective sustainability initiatives. All of this means that collaborative housing tends to have less impact on the planet.
Co-creating a vision
There is the opportunity to have formative input to the creation of your living environment, as opposed to buying something off the plan from a developer, and to have a say in how your community works together.
The bigger picture
Urban sprawl, a growing ecological footprint and rising housing costs all pose significant challenges to the liveability and long term sustainability of Australia’s cities and regions. Meanwhile, the
composition of Australian households is changing. Our population is ageing, households are getting smaller, and social isolation is increasingly recognised as a serious issue.
Collaborative housing can help address these challenges and build on the opportunities offered by changing demographics, lifestyles and technologies. Collaborative housing offers a way to live more affordably, create connected and inclusive communities, care better for an ageing population and keep cities compact and resilient. It is just one of a broader mix of solutions, but it can certainly play a part in positively transforming our cities and regions.
Watch this TED talk: Curing the ‘loneliness epidemic’