Communal living, ubiquitous in the 1960s, is making a comeback in some areas. The concept is simple: Like-minded individuals and families make a home together, share the responsibilities and finances, and create a little community.
To some people, this sounds wonderful. To others, it seems like a huge infringement on personal space and privacy. The success of a commune depends on how well the people involved live and work together. It can be a great situation where everyone benefits — or it can become a nightmare.
If you’re considering communal living, there are a few things you should think about — both positive and negative.
A sense of community
Perhaps the most appealing benefit of shared housing is the community that can be created. With multiple people sharing a living space, you’ll likely never feel alone. If everyone gets along, this can mean friends readily available in times of need, and always having someone to talk to.
In an ideal situation, a commune can become like a family, which can bring a lot of joy to everyone involved.
More hands on deck
More people in a home means more people to help out, considering everyone is willing to do their part. Everyone can take turns cooking, cleaning, gardening and doing repairs — or everyone can choose a role. If there are children, there are more people to look after them, and parents can enjoy time off knowing there is a built-in babysitter right at home.
One big reason a lot of people turn to communal living is finances. Owning or renting your own home can be expensive. More people means a lessened financial burden on everyone, and this can be a huge plus. If everyone chips in on housing costs, you may find yourself with a lot more disposable income.
Individuals who enjoy a lot of privacy may be uncomfortable in a communal living arrangement. Even if you have your own room, other people are right on the other side of the wall. Finding alone time may be difficult, as there may be others demanding your time.
When you do get some alone time, it may not be exactly quiet if other people or families are living their lives just a stone’s throw away. This may not be a big deal to some individuals who are highly social and don’t require complete quiet to study, sleep, read, etc., but for others, it may be downright impossible to stay sane.
Arguments and tension
Living communally as “one big happy family” can have a lot of perks, but can also lead to a lot of arguments. Everyone is different, and when personalities clash, conflict can ensue. If you’re feuding with someone (or several people) that you live with, you may not be able to get away to cool off very easily. There’s also the issue of factions and cliques forming, which can be toxic to a household.
On top of that, if someone in the commune isn’t contributing equally, as far as chores or finances, it may destabilize the cohesion of the community.
More social responsibility
When you live communally, one person’s triumphs and struggles become everyone’s triumphs and struggles. This can be positive, especially in the case of triumphs, and it’s a comfort to have people that can support you in times of need.
However, the more people are introduced into a living situation, the more responsibility this puts on each person. You may find yourself overwhelmed with trying to navigate through everyone’s problems, and not having time to wade through your own. If everyone is generally amenable, this can be manageable, especially with good communication — but there is always potential for all-out drama explosions.
What do you think? Would you ever consider living communally? If this describes your past or current living situation, we’d love to hear about your experience.
Tanya is a writer at The Alternative Daily with a passion for meditation, music, poetry, and overall creative and active living. She has a special interest in exploring traditional Eastern remedies and superfoods from around the globe, and enjoys spending time immersed in nature.