Oak Hill Co-Living ready to enter real estate market

ROCKWOOD – Wellington County’s first co-living house is about to be put on the real estate market.

The idea behind Oak Hill Co-Living, located at 125 Richardson Street in Rockwood, is that six women, aged 55-plus, will each own a share of the house. 

Project manager, Elizabeth Hines said the idea is for the house to be a retirement home alternative. 

“It’s like being part-owner of a private retirement home but it’s a private home,” she said at a Jan. 6 open house.

“So you’re a one-sixth owner of this place; you get to make decisions on everything and then you can sell your share if you decide you don’t want to stay any longer or you can stay until the end.”

The project began in 2014 when a group of women realized there needs to be an option for aging women in Wellington County.

“Anything we can do to expand the options for senior accommodation I think is a good thing,” said Guelph-Eramosa Mayor Chris White.

After discussions, one woman decided to renovate her home for just this purpose. She is the first one-sixth shareholder of the new Oak Hill Co-Living. 

The century home is three storeys with a one-storey addition, including a fully finished basement. 

Hines explained there is a shared kitchen with two sinks to make meal preparations easier for six people and two top-loading, drawer-style dishwashers. 

All doors are wheelchair friendly and the front veranda has a ramp for increased accessibility (the bathrooms also feature accessible showers). 

While the original house and addition seamlessly transition on the main floor, the second and third floors maintain the structure of the original house. 

Each of the six owners will have their own rooms which are big enough for a bed and a sitting area, as well as a fireplace, washroom, large storage space and hookups for a wall-mounted TV. 

“They all have a fireplace because as people age their ability to maintain their temperature or regulate temperature deteriorates basically, so this way if they’re cold they can just do their own room,” Hines said.

The third floor contains a powder room and is intended to be a guest room for those visiting one of the owners. 

Shares in the house are expected to go on the market by the beginning of February. 

New homeowners will choose their accommodations on a first come, first served basis.

“If you did get people on the second floor that were starting to have trouble with mobility issues … then when one of the people on the main floor moves …  then they would have first option to move into a downstairs suite because they own the building,” Hines said.

“If you own a one-sixth share you don’t own a suite, you own one-sixth of everything.”

The house also includes a large gathering room in the basement under the new addition.

“There’s lots of room for company, because that was important to a lot of people,” Hines said. “I know I’ve got five kids and 11 grandchildren and a lot of them live out of province so if they come to visit me I would want them to be able to stay and be able to stay overnight.”

Each owner will also have a space in the storage room and a parking spot. 

However,  officials say a car is not a necessity as Oak Hill is located in the middle of Rockwood, within walking distance of the medical centre, grocery store, churches, bank, pharmacy, restaurants and the Go Bus stop to Guelph and Toronto. 

One share of the house is spoken for so when the house goes up for sale, the remaining five shares will be available for purchase. Prospective owners will meet with the real estate agent first and then with other co-owners.

The same will happen when one of the co-owners is planning to sell; the co-ownership agreement stipulates that the other co-owners must approve the purchaser. 

“Six people would share the cost of snow removal, lawn care, that type of thing,” Hines said. “They’d share the utilities, they’d share the taxes, all of that would be shared.”

White said one of the challenges Rockwood faces is limited housing for seniors. 

“A lot of people who have lived in a small community, when they’re ready to downsize, can’t find accommodation in smaller towns and they end up having to go into the big city,” he said. 

“By having this as an option for some folks they can stay where they’ve been for a piece of their life.”

Officials say co-living also offers peace of mind for residents. 

“The reason for the co-living concept is that people are interacting every day,” Hines said. “So if you have to go to the kitchen every day you’re passing each other and that’s what co-housing, co-living is about.”

For more information about Oak Hill Co-Living call 519-835-0724.