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What’s the Difference Between a Senior Cohousing Community & Retirement Community?

What's The Difference Between a Senior Cohousing Community & Retirement Community? three senior friends hugging and smiling

Part of retirement planning might be choosing where you’d like to age in place. If you’ve considered moving to a community setting, then you may have come across some options that sound pretty similar. Two popular choices that may sound alike are cohousing and retirement communities. Let’s talk about the differences.


What is a Senior Cohousing Community?

friends in a cohousing community

senior cohousing community is a private community where residents live in clusters of homes close to one another. Also known as “intentional neighborhoods,” in this type of community, you’ll find yourself surrounded by like-minded individuals who share similar interests and values. It’s a retirement lifestyle built on the principles of residential participation, friendship, and inclusion. Imagine living in a neighborhood where you can easily socialize with your neighbors, engage in activities together, and forge meaningful connections.

The beauty of senior cohousing lies in its emphasis on community involvement as a way of life. Residents actively contribute to the functioning and decision-making of the community, creating a sense of ownership and belonging. This level of participation fosters a supportive and vibrant atmosphere, where everyone’s voice is heard and valued.


Cohousing communities also recognize the importance of personal freedom and independence. While residents have their own private homes, they also share common spaces and amenities. This allows for a balance between privacy and socialization, giving you the best of both worlds.

What is a Retirement Community?

gated retirement community

A retirement community is like a suburban neighborhood that offers senior-friendly housing to adults aged 55 and above. It provides maintenance-free living, allowing you to enjoy a hassle-free lifestyle. In these communities, you can find a variety of housing options, from single-family homes to apartments and condos, tailored to meet your specific needs and preferences.

One of the great advantages of retirement communities is the opportunity to stay active and socialize. These communities often offer a range of amenities and activities, such as fitness centers, swimming pools, golf courses, clubs, and organized events. You can participate in group activities, make new friends, and create lasting connections with fellow residents.

Retirement communities also provide a sense of security and peace of mind. They typically have on-site staff who can assist with maintenance and security, ensuring that you feel safe and well taken care of. Additionally, many retirement communities offer various healthcare services and assistance, catering to the changing needs of residents as they age.


What’s The Difference?

question marks shrugging man

Both senior cohousing communities and retirement communities feature some shared space, social activities, and a senior-friendly lifestyle. However, there are a couple of notable differences; probably the largest being how each is organized, maintained, and managed. A traditional retirement community is built and managed by a company. Employees provide maintenance and organize social and recreational activities for residents. In a cohousing community, residents self-manage. Neighbors decide what to do, when to do it, and who will do it.

Another difference is that cohousing communities largely rely on eco-friendly practices. They’re self-sustaining and energy efficient. Residents grow food and often raise animals like chickens. Everyone pitches in and shares resources. In a retirement community, it’s more about convenience and simplicity, with an emphasis on amenities and leisure.

Need Help Finding Senior Cohousing?

senior cohousing and magnifying glass

If you’re looking for cohousing near you, then start here.

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Originally published November 09, 2023


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