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The Benefits of Communal Living

Updated on April 14, 2022

As some of you know I used to own and run a boarding house in Portland, Oregon. I did this for ten years. It was a different kind of lifestyle, a pleasant lifestyle, an unusual lifestyle and I must say a convenient lifestyle.

Now I'm living in Manhattan. One of the reasons I think I love Manhattan so much is that I enjoy people. This was also the reason the boarding house worked out. I never wanted to live alone with my son in a single family home. I thought it would be too lonely and too boring. So recently I started thinking about the lifestyle and to tell you the truth I miss it. Someday I might return to it and it got me thinking about what makes for a successful community.

The communal lifestyle's main advantages are economic, social and strangely enough independence. Let me explain.


Economically, if two can live as cheaply as one, seven to twelve can make a killing! Many hands make light work and many people allow for an inexpensive yet abundant life. Not only will you save on the rent or mortgage but buying food in bulk saves an incredible amount of money. In addition, the utilities like heat and air run whether there are 2 people in the house or 12. One area that does usually run higher is the water bill (if you own the house, if not no worries). However, there are ways to reduce that bill as well, it's called rainwater harvesting!


Socially, living with a half a dozen to a dozen people can be quite interesting. For one thing, you are never lonely, there is always someone to do things with and talk to. If you like people it can be quite nice. The key here is to fill your house with people you like and have things in common. It used to be, not so long ago, that this was a common way to live, albeit with relatives. Still it was unusual for people to dwell alone, nowadays it seems that everyone lives alone, drives alone and sometimes works alone, we are a lonely country! There are now more single people in the United States than married. I think all of this lonesomeness is detrimental to our mental health. I think what we need is community and this is one way to have it.


Thirdly, independence, yes,independence can be a direct result of living communally. But,independence from what? Independence from the grid, (or the system) can be achieved through communal living. With several people one can manage a garden, several chickens, maybe a cow or goat or two and create homemade food that hasn't been infused with frankenfoods that have ingredients that you can hardly pronounce or made up in a lab somewhere. With several members an alternative energy source can be maintained. This can be very difficult if not impossible with only one or two people but with many it can be done with ease.

Finally, living communally satisfies many problems that plague our modern day American society. We spend too much, we are isolated and we are dependent upon the government too much for services. We have lost the art of community, the art of conversation, the art of working together for a common goal of living and laughing and sitting down at a table to have dinner. In the old days we had sewing bees and barn-raisings, we had quilting parties and canned food together, today we pass in the night as strangers and are the poorer for it. In any case, communal living is worth considering, I should know, I've done it!

Do you think that you would like to live communally?

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