For singles and couples in their 50s and 60s, affordable housing is increasingly difficult to find in many areas. Yes, they are in their prime earning years — but few have enough saved for retirement, and those grappling with layoffs, health problems or simply low earnings may find themselves facing high rents, high interest rates and more. Living alone in a single-family house is challenging — financially and logistically — and apartments are increasingly pricey as well. From 2000 to 2022, median home prices increased 156% nationwide, while median rent prices increased 90%, according to Real Estate Witch. Are there other options? Two alternatives to single-family houses and apartments are becoming better known: microunits and co-living. Both address housing affordability problems with major trade-offs; in return for lower costs, you give up space or privacy.
But there are benefits, too. Residents of these trendy experiments — largely a young crowd but increasingly a mix of generations — are finding wider social outlets and opportunities for expression beyond their own walls. And did we mention lower expenses? To balance the lack of personal space, buildings with both microunits and co-living arrangements generally have a common room with TV, a fitness room, a rooftop deck, and/or a “makerspace” for hobbies. These types of housing units are most often built in center cities and active suburbs, so shopping, services and transit should be close. “For older tenants who have downsized, the benefits are affordability and adjacency,” says Keith Schwebel, founder and CEO of KSNY, a developer and builder. “In these units, there’s no maintenance, no yardwork,” he adds. “The gym is in the building and no car is needed to get to shopping and attractions right in the neighborhood.”