Karolyn Mangeot, Elderberry Cohousing (Rougemont, NC)
Several months ago there was a blog suggesting that “seniors” should look for cohousing communities in urban areas. While I understand the blogger’s reasons (having lived in cities, suburbs and rural areas), I’d like to offer an alternative for retirement or pre-retirement living.
My cohousing neighbors here in rural North Carolina will tell you that their goal is to continue “growing”. By that some of them include the urban offerings (museums, concerts, etc.) that can be reached by a 45-minute car ride. However, the daily opportunities for “growth” here require really immersing one’s self in what cohousing means - that is intentionally doing things with and for your neighbor. This means everything from trying out a new restaurant together to sharing errands.
For those in our community who are still working, all of them have a commute. But they do it largely because they want to live in a place that is a rural respite from the bustle of their business lives. Walks in the woods, sitting on their front porch, sunsets and incredible stars replace honking horns, pollution and street views.
For all of us here, whether working or retired, we have chosen a community where truthfully life isn’t easy. There’s a walk from the parking lot, there’s grass to be mowed, there’s a garden to tend, firewood to split, chickens to feed, landscaping to maintain. But every task is also a challenge to remain physically fit, to eat healthier foods, to learn new skills (a powered wheel barrow, a miter saw, a rototiller) - and especially to grow with other people who are earnestly trying to stay as strong and active as possible for as long as they live.
If you’ve always lived in cities and love the idea of mass transit or walking to the grocery, country living isn’t for you, whatever age you are. But if you’re not scared by relying on your neighbor and local services when you need help; if you especially appreciate healthy activities in a natural environment; if you really want to grow and age into the kind of person who enjoys being a real neighbor in the old-time country sense, then I encourage you to consider the alternative of cohousing in a rural environment.
PS The National Cohousing Open House Day on April 29 is a great chance to visit rural cohousing communities.
For more on Elderberry, visit Two units remain!