Cohousing / Coliving / Cosharing / Coworking / Coinvesting

The future is collaborative!

The quicker we re-adapt to this idea the easier it’s going to be to create policy, fight loneliness and solve some housing issues.

Ideas and musings from Liza Rogers – Founder of WREN

Is this a timely and valuable conversation about housing in Canada? I believe the more we talk about this the more likely there will be some moving of the needle…

We’ve all heard, “Home is where the heart is.” In fact, this is a trending slogan right now by Canada’s own Shawn Mendes and Tim Hortons.

We’ve also heard, “Home is wherever I hang my hat.” But does that really refer to a home or is it just talking about a stopover? The answer depends on what constitutes home for you and what value you put on the healthy, happy part of that!

  • Do you need roots to feel grounded? Or, are you an adventurer who finds home in the people you surround yourself with, rather than in an actual structure and location?
  • What does it take to create a balance between home, health, and happiness and how do we ensure that we can achieve all three?
  • Is the word “home” generally defined as a house or an apartment structure of some kind where we live with family members, whether we love them all or not?
  • Is it time to redefine the concept of “home” and expand on the possibilities as we become more globally and culturally aware?
  • Are we making the best use of homes or housing that already exists, such as the 300 luxury rentals listed and empty right now in Vancouver’s Lower Mainland!

These are some of the ideas we discuss at the dinner table. In particular three important aspects; home, health, and happiness— and how they intersect and intertwine.

Who am I to speak on home, health, and happiness? 

  • I’m someone who has a lifetime of experience searching for all three.
  • I’ve been gaining an understanding of how these three elements are intricately woven together over the last three decades.
  • I have travelled and worked with over 50 different nationalities.
  • I have lived in, worked, owned and managed a variety of shared spaces, very close quarters and spent time in cruise ships, youth hostels, small Inns, shared houses, and, at times, not even had an address but carried all my possessions in tow.
  • I’ve formed businesses based on connection and collaboration.
  • I’ve created and sustained local and global relationships that were the direct result of home, health, and happiness.

Today, with this depth of experience, alongside so many other voices and stories to back up what I’ve learned, I’m on a mission to be part of the movement that is creating the solutions.

 First Let’s talk about Health 

The states of our physical bodies and mental wellbeing are hot topics and have a huge impact on our quality of health and happiness.

  • How great an impact does home have on our health?
  • What if we could afford to spend more on our health because our housing costs weren’t such a burden?
  • What are we doing to help combat the Mental Health crisis that’s growing across the developed world and is, at least in part, caused by our isolation?
  • What if we weren’t so alone so much of the time?
  • What if we truly were witnessed and loved and cared for in our full and vulnerable state—at our best and our worst?
  • What if our exercise partner lived under the same roof!?

Second….Happiness 

As defined by Miriam Webster, happiness is “a state of well-being and contentment.” Doesn’t that just say it all! Well-being – Being WELL. HEALTHY!!!! Right there in the dictionary.

For so many of us, happiness is strongly tied to our health and our home. People who have good health, a safe clean affordable home, and a community to feel connected to generally display more signs of happiness. According to a 2019 United Nations Study on Happiness, wealth isn’t necessarily tied to happiness; but the happiest cultures are those whose people are connected and rooted in their communities.

Here’s a bit of a summary from that report

Quality of life can be reliably assessed by a variety of subjective well-being measures, with income being only one of them and not the most important. The other five key variables taken into account are freedom to make life choices, trust towards social and political institutions, healthy life expectancy, level of available support from friends and relatives in times of need, and generosity as a sense of positive community engagement. 

Other people’s happiness is essential to our own. For example, last year’s report revealed that a higher degree of acceptance towards migrants increases happiness both among newcomers and the locally born. This time the report focused on how people communicate and interact with each other, and the takeaway is clear: fewer social media networks and more real connections is the way to go.”

Finally… HOME

We’re in the middle of a global shift in housing—from shortages in urban centres all over North America to Europe, where rural properties and entire villages are being abandoned. Then there are new construction methods, prefabs, downsizing, mobile home parks, tiny homes, etc. along with new ways of living in those homes: short-term, long-term, extended-stays, inter-generational collectives, aging at home…the list goes on. How do we afford any of these options and how do we decide what’s right for us, and our community? Well it certainly helps to know that there are loads of options and alternatives to the “one person or family in one house” norm that has become largely impractical and unaffordable.

We’re asking these questions:

  • Am I going to be able to stay in the house in which I’ve lived and raised my children, that I’ve owned for 50 years?
  • Am I ever going to be able to afford to get into the market when prices are so high and salaries are so low?
  • Am I willing to share the giant house that I live in with others for the betterment of my own self and that of my community?

As you might imagine I’ve heard those questions and everything in between.

There are many solutions and I am focused on a mere handful. My particular focus is mainly with women who know they need to think outside the box to create a healthy happy retirement…and they know that planning starts right now! Even though my focus is on women, we’re working on multigenerational solutions and we welcome everyone to the discussion.

Whomever we’re speaking with, Co-ownership and co-living are likely evolutions to the housing situation in which we currently find ourselves in large urban centres.

Here are a few things to think about:

  • Historically, owning your own home North America only became a societal norm (or aspiration) after World War II. En mass single-family homeownership as a construct is actually less than one hundred years old!
  • Prior two World War II we were much more accustomed to living with our families; multiple Generations lived in a house, looked after each other, and had collective and individual responsibilities.
  • We didn’t ship our parents to old folks homes.
  • We didn’t leave small towns or farms to go to the big city.
  • The “property ownership” phenomenon occurred when World War II veterans were coming home from fighting. The government needed to keep the economy going and growing so they used the mass production and the accompanying increase in infrastructure spending to generate that growth. This included housing, highways and automobiles for veterans and their rapidly growing families. Thus, the suburbs were born! [1] Major highways were constructed and suddenly everyone was encouraged to purchase their own home. It was the realization of the ‘American Dream’ (and of course on a smaller scale, the ‘Canadian Dream’). [2]

At the end of 2019, as we quickly approach a new decade, people are asking, “What’s the new ‘American Dream’?” From what I’ve observed, it’s time freedom. Everyone wants more time! It’s also the age of experience. Carving out time from our busy lives and pursuing experiences results in less money and effort being directed toward homeownership, focus on house size, expecting the perfect location, etc.

Somewhere along the line, I believe we in North America got it wrong. Immediately following World War II, and since then, it has been drilled into us that being independent, not relying on anyone but ourselves, and being completely self-sufficient is imperative. But look at where we are now! One of the biggest crises we see in our urban centres is loneliness! We’ve forgotten how to be vulnerable, how to allow others to help without feeling guilty, and how to simply share the struggles and successes of life.

From my perspective, my family is very small. It’s basically my mom, my sister, and me. I’m a “modern women”—now 50, single, having chosen not to have children. I’m 100% responsible for creating my own life and my own community. As I mentioned earlier, for the last thirty years, I’ve spent a lot of time observing and engaging in work and life situations where I was surrounded by others and I firmly know that I am healthier and happier for it.

We have lived in a time where we have struggled to be independent…and we have lost the ability to belong. Now the circle is turning back around the other way and connection, community and collaboration are keys to the kingdom.

Are there obstacles in the way? YES!

  • Municipalities have completely ridiculous by-laws that make some of our goals challenging.
  • Insurance companies have outdated policies that likely cost them more money than they save.
  • The housing crisis is a global problem that, in turn, impacts sustainability and the environment.

There are so many Simple Solutions that overlap the health, happiness, and home trifecta.

One that is growing and needs a louder voice on the bigger platform is multi-generational shared housing. I can hear some gasps and mutterings…”Oh my goodness! She’s a hippie. She’s going to tell me to move into a co-op.” etc.

For some of you, that might actually work. However, I prefer combining my passion for Real Estate, my passion for travel, my passion for connecting to great people and great experiences, and I choose to live in a beautiful house that I co-own with a group of investors who understand long-term buy-and-hold real estate.

Studies show that multi-generational housing works to reduce stress, reduce expenses, increase feelings of connection, decrease anxiety, promote tolerance, expose people to new cultures and traditions, and generally improve health and happiness.

  • If you could live in (either as an owner or a tenant) a five or six-bedroom, 6,000 square foot house that’s already built and is perhaps at risk of being torn down, would you consider it… if you knew that there was going to be a process to ensure you were supported and matched with the right people in the right location for the right budget?
  • If you could live six months of the year in your favourite sunny destination Puerto Vallarta, Valencia, or  Sydney and, rather than own just one property that you live in or be roped into one of those damned timeshares, find a brilliant alternative to share a gorgeous property with a small group of like-minded people who knew how to create a sustainable healthy, happy, home almost anywhere in the world, wouldn’t you be interested?
  • If you knew that you could rent a beautiful home, save money and find a way to invest elsewhere would you be interested?
  • if you knew that you could buy a beautiful home and rent it out to excellent, qualified tenants, would you be interested?
  • If you knew that you could offer your parent(s) the opportunity to live in a beautiful home surrounded by people of all ages and backgrounds whose mission and passion was to share and learn from the depth of wisdom of your mom and/or dad?
  • If you’ve heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” could you imagine bringing up your children up in a house full of other people where you always have support and love, you have time to take a shower, AND your kid would still have love and supervision…?

If any of this rings for you or people you know and love, I have an invitation for you…

Come home with us.

Contact liza@wren.club for information on the upcoming workshops.

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