Should we really be living communally?

Living in nuclear families, or even alone, is a relatively recent phenomenon in human history. Len Williams asks if this is really the answer or if ‘intentional communities’ would make us happier and healthier

<p>A communal celebration at Cannock Mill Cohousing</p>

A communal celebration at Cannock Mill Cohousing

I’ve just had my first anniversary of living alone since leaving my childhood home. After 13 years living with (I estimate) 59 people at 19 properties, in six cities on three continents, it’s been paradise. There was the flatmate who gave me scabies. The couple who’d frequently have loud sex in the next room while I was eating breakfast. A man who went by the name “Sheep”, who’d play techno at 3am. No more difficult personalities to deal with, no more queues for the shower, waiting for people who leave their clothes to marinate for days in the washing machine, no more sinks piled high with plates slathered in dried pesto (I was of course a perfect flatmate).

But then there are the things I miss. Chatting over breakfast. House nights out, staggering home together with kebabs. Sunday roasts, and always someone there to have a natter, share a cup of tea or simply watch the box with. And during the third lockdown in 2021, I, like many others, started craving more interaction. There’s only so much company you can get from box sets. And I started to wonder if living alone is the right way to live at all.

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