Your Guide to Communal Living: Benefits and Drawbacks

Rose Morrison

Feb 19, 2023


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When people think of communal living, they may have all sorts of ideas in their head about how people interact with each other. Living communally doesn’t need to look any certain way, though: it can look however you want it to and whichever way works best with your lifestyle. Some people who live communally have limited interaction with the people who live around them, while others involve their neighbors in their everyday lives. While it might not be for everyone, communal living has some benefits no one can deny.

What Is Communal Living?

Communal living is a style of life that involves sharing spaces. Sometimes, these communal spaces are something as little as the same parking lot, where people don’t have much interaction with each other outside of their shared spaces. Other types of this lifestyle include people in every facet of their lives, as they might depend on one another to survive, as humans did long ago.

You could compare it to college dorm life, except not every communal living situation has to share the same facilities — though other areas find it more efficient to share them, as land and amenities might be limited. The concept might be odd to some people, but for others, this style of living works wonders, whether as a temporary arrangement or a permanent way of life. In spring 2022, houses in America cost an average of around $450,000, making it an unaffordable dream for many people. Communal living, whether in urban spaces or tiny homes, can remedy this problem for people.

How much space everyone gets is dependent upon the larger space overall. Communal living often happens in urban areas, where there isn’t a lot of land to go around. These spaces might also encourage walking over driving, or carpooling at the very least. 

Rural spaces might have more land, which could allow the homeowners to live close together and save the land for things like farming or activities rather than allowing each house to have space. Other places still might revolve around a dorm setup where everyone has a private room, but they share spaces like living rooms, kitchens and maybe even bathrooms.

The Benefits of Communal Living

Communal living can be complicated sometimes, but it doesn’t always need to be. It can look however you want it to look — and you’ll still be able to reap all the benefits. Here are just a few that you can look forward to when you move into a shared living space.

1. Saved Money

When young adults choose to stay home with their families instead of moving out on their own, they’re living communally. People often choose communal living because they save money living in shared spaces more often than they do living alone, in their individual environments. If you want to save money for a while, try communal living. You may notice that shared spaces, with everyone pitching in, are friendlier toward your wallet.

2. Invested in the Community

When you live communally, you become invested in your environment. Depending on if you’re building a farm from scratch, you may have to learn new skills, which can help you understand where you or your community is lacking. Not to mention, living communally is a great way to build your conversational skills.

Usually, when you have a home emergency, you may have to wait on a professional to fix it or learn how to DIY it yourself. However, some of these emergencies need to be fixed sooner rather than later. When something like bad electrical wiring might pose a threat to your household’s safety, you don’t have time to wait — and someone who lives in your small community might have a specialization in the electrical field. When you invest in your small community, you’ll be able to help others as they can help you.

3. Improved Happiness

Living and being involved in a community can help you live a longer, happier life, simply due to the fact that you get to spend time with others often. Because you interact with people so much, the chance of loneliness is very low. The moment you start to feel too alone, you can always head to a communal space and run into someone.

The Drawbacks of Communal Living

Unfortunately, like every situation, communal living has its drawbacks. If you aren’t much of a people person, this lifestyle may not be for you. However, you may be able to overlook some of the communal cons if you enjoy all the benefits.

1. Shared Facilities

When you live with people in any capacity, you’ll have to share things. Whether you farm together with other people, you don’t own the whole farm. Similarly, if you share a kitchen with someone, you may have to share fridge space or might not be able to cook when you want. If you want to be the sole owner of your space, most forms of communal living won’t be for you.

2. Unhealthy Spaces

Many dangerous viruses spread easily from person to person, especially when you’re living in close proximity to each other. When living communally, you’ll have to strive to keep your space clean and watch who you interact with outside of your shared living space, if you spend time with those you live with or near every day. As long as you can remain responsible for your health, you may be able to get past some of the nasty illnesses and even bolster your immune system.

3. Less Privacy

When you share things, you’re bound to experience a lesser degree of privacy than you would if you owned everything yourself. If you live in the same building, the walls will likely be thinner, and you may not get the privacy of leaving your things where you want.

Is Communal Living Right For You?

Communal living isn’t for everyone. Still, if none of the drawbacks strike you as particularly negative, you may be able to transition into a shared living space with relative ease. Take these pros and cons into account before making a big life step, or just give living communally a chance before you say no to it. You may just find your new favorite way of life.

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