Despite their social and environmental value, collaborative housing models—taking the form of co living and cooperatives—are not yet common in Australia.

This may be because the concept of shared housing has a negative image, says Professor Chris Riedy, lead author of the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures’ web-based Collaborative Housing Guide, created via financial support from the NSW government.

He says that the concept of collaborative housing evokes images of crowded shared housing with a bohemian feel; in truth, though, modern collaborative housing options are anything but.

In the well-regarded Nightingale housing model, for examples, residents share only a laundry and rooftop gardens—not eating and sleeping spaces.

In eco villages, by contrast, communal meals and communal governance are the order of the day. Yet in the broad scope of this concept, residents can choose the extent to which they wish to share their living space. 

And it works. In Denmark, for example, as much as 10-20 percent of the nation’s populace could be housed in this form of residence.

And in Australia, where affordable housing and high-quality senior housing are ongoing problems, collaborative housing may indeed be a viable solution. 

The new online guide details and addresses regulatory and financial problems that could stand in the way of the success of this housing model, including development approvals to facilitate the addition of residential dwellings to established properties.

Parking is also a frequent concern with these developments, as is the common perception that collaborative living facilities are akin to boarding houses.

In addition, financial institutions might be hesitant to fund multiple homebuyers on one mortgage—although given the recent popularity of this housing type around the world, more and more banks are willing to finance collaborative housing units. 

For older folks in particular, this living model seems to be the way to go. More and more seniors coexist with friends or family members on small collaborative properties, or a group of older people pooling their monies to establish shared housing communities. Also, says Professor Riedy, middle-aged individuals also are looking into these residential options with an eye toward the future.

Minister for seniors John Sidoti asserts the NSW government’s commitment to providing stable and affordable housing for the area’s older population.

Younger residents also are looking into coliving communities like UKO Stanmore in Sydney, where instant communities—overseen by community managers–are being established that include abundant public and private spaces.

Collaborative housing choices encompass building forms such as cooperatives, building groups, cohousing, coliving, intentional communities and small blocks. Peruse the collaborative housing guide to learn more about this novel and exciting residential concept.