Janet, 69, moved from Brighton to live in a two-bed flat in Marmalade Lane - an award-winning cohousing community - in March 2019. She’s lived on her own for over 30 years.
What really made me make the jump into cohousing was taking early retirement at 58. My son had got a job down in Surrey and didn’t need the space anymore and I thought it’s not right for people to sit in big houses. It doesn’t do you much good wither trying to maintain a big house.
I had two good neighbours, but then they both moved around the same time. I was busy working so I didn’t notice it so much at first but I suddenly realised, although it hadn’t been a daily contact in any way, we knew each other were rock solid and that there wouldn’t ever be such a thing as an emergency that you had to deal with on your own because you could just go and ask.
I was also trying to make very conscious decisions because of what was happening with my mother. She was thirty years older than me and living in a house in London that she had bought. She loved it and stayed and stayed and stayed. She had dementia and became housebound. There was nobody apart from me and my four siblings to look after her.
I’d pop down from Sheffield but I realised I’ve only got one son and he lives far away and could even go abroad to work. I didn’t want that to happen to me.
I’ve been living as a single adult since the age of 40, but my work was giving me my company. I’d think this is okay, I can hack this, I can go back home listen to the radio, watch the telly and I won’t feel lonely. And I really wasn’t feeling lonely, but I was making too much of a success of it, I’d go to the cinema or the theatre on my own, but there would come the day when I wanted company and someone around.
I am futureproofing the maintenance of a house because I’ve really downsized, but it’s absolutely adequate.
I will always be able to have those watercooler moments - getting my post from the pigeon hole.
There’s not going to be a day that I’m not going to see somebody and have a conversation with them.
We have a communal meal on a Friday evening. Before, my routine would be to go and sit in the pub on a Friday night to say that’s the end of the working week, but it was also the start of me not having another adult to talk to except in shops and things until I went back to work the next week. On Fridays, I now take a dish into a room and there are people with news, kids running around, a dog - it’s just like having an extended family.
Amanda, 50, moved into Fishponds Road, a community land trust development in Bristol in May 2016. To get a discount off her monthly rent Amanda worked with her neighbours to ‘self-finish’ her one-bed home. Amanda has a partner but they choose to live separately.
Val Eugenia, 52, lives in Ealing, West London. She has lived on her own since her last relationship ended nearly a decade ago. Val is a member of London Older Lesbian Cohousing which is hoping to build 25 homes in North East London.