Family Nature

Communal Living

I have an old friend that I’ve known since I was six. B lived next door to me and I’ve known her so long that I don’t remember my life before her. When we were kids, B, my sister and I spent all of our free time together. We’d have sleepovers and freeze each others’ bras. We’d stay up all night listening the radio, playing Canasta and Sergeant Major (or 9-5-2 which is apparently called 8-5-3 in Britain…who knew?) We’d do each others’ make-up and talk about our latest boy crushes and just generally do other silly things that young girlfriends do.

One thing we’d talk about all the time is getting married – all three of us on the same day; a triple wedding, of course. Then we’d all get pregnant at the same time; we’d talk about names and how many kids we were going to have.

There was a house not far from where we lived. We used to walk by it all the time. It was a beautiful old Victorian and it was huge. We loved that house and we swore that we’d all live in it one day – yup, all of us, with all of our husbands and all of our kids.

That big, old, beautiful house was torn down along with a couple of others beside it. In the same space they squeezed in a ridiculous number of ugly townhouses; we all thought it was sad.

We all grew up and we all have partners and kids. Needless to say, we all live in separate houses.

I was talking to B and another friend a little while ago and we were reminiscing about our idea of living together in that big old house. And then we got to thinking…wouldn’t it be great if we all lived together? We could sell our houses, pool our resources and buy a house big enough for all of our families. Nobody would ever pay for childcare again. We’d share chores; each of us contributing in different way; all living together as one big happy family.

It would be wonderful for the kids. They would benefit immensely from other attachment parents and other kids all under one roof. We think it’s a brilliant idea.

But then reality sets in.

The logistics of it all are complicated. To buy a house in Toronto big enough for several families would be tricky; I mean, houses like that just aren’t built around here. And I can’t say that the Dads are on board with this idea; any mention of it gets a round of ‘second wife’ jokes out of my husband. (Umm no, that’s not quite what we had in mind.) And then we’d have to agree on where to live. And I think it would certainly be challenging organizing that many people in one home. And then there is each family’s need for a bit of personal space. And, and…I can think of several other reasons why it wouldn’t work.


But can I tell you something? If everyone agreed to it I’d do it in a heartbeat. I’d jump right in without a moment’s hesitation. And I think it would be amazing.

8 thoughts on “Communal Living

  1. Beevers!

    Ummmm…L is totally on board! We only need to convince S that he doesn’t actually get 2 more wives with all the “privileges”…

  2. LIsa Marie

    We’ve talked on and off of doing this with some of his other siblings. We know two sets of families who did buy a house together and some of the things we learned from it is to make sure that you have a designated “private” space for you and your family.

    If we ever go ahead and do it, we’d really only be able to consider it if there was a way to each have our own living space – like a duplex idea or a second “house” on the property or something like that.

    We’re actually in the midst of talking with DH’s older brother and his wife about this idea. They are kid-free, so it would maybe be easier. But finding a place that suits everyone’s needs is hard!!

    Definately easier if everyone has similar interests and ideals!

    Sounds like a cool idea!! 🙂 (And silly men – never even crossed my mind that idea LOL) .

  3. Brie

    We were involved with a cohousing group but it never got off the ground. It was too hard to get so many people on the same page about location and size and number of units. I would have liked the communial aspect of it, plus everyone has their own private space.

    We are trying to build our own community within the neighbourhood but it sure takes time.

  4. Rodger Levesque

    This is a great topic!

    I see that you would jump in without a moment of hesitation (which is probably the only way something like this could work), but why is all your reality working against something so dreamy? (And I mean that in the sense of the dreams of youth you write about)

    And the way you describe it “Nobody would ever pay for childcare again. We’d share chores; each of us contributing in different way; all living together as one big happy family.” (is that what our need for privacy costs?) sounds amazing.

  5. Meagan Francis

    I think it’s a beautiful idea. My SIL (who was one of my best friends & my college roomie even before she started dating my brother) and I have talked about it and I think it could totally work with her, or with my sister or a few select other people. ONE house is tricky, though, you’re right. What about row houses that you re-configure so that you can walk through from one house to the next?

    We used to live in Chicago in the bottom two floors of a two-flat. Previously my landlady and her best friend had lived next door to each other; they bought the property together and combined their backyards. At night they’d all hang out in the backyard while the kids played. Sounds like heaven to me.

  6. Amber

    I think that this is a great idea. We really need more community. I think that the way we all live separately, beside perfect strangers, causes a lot of problems. At minimum it’s really isolating.

    But the logistics are another thing entirely. And I will admit that I would have a hard time giving up my autonomy. But I agree, if you could get over all of that it would be totally awesome.

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