Could intergenerational living offer a housing solution for the young?

A French study has concluded that pensioners sharing their homes with younger people can benefit both generations.

So-called intergenerational living isn’t only for those who are related.

Instead a custom has grown in France where older people living in bigger homes open their doors to young people. The custom deals with two social problems at the same time – care for the elderly and affordable housing for young people.

Benefits both parties

The study was carried out by consulting firm Ellyx for COSI (Cohabitation Solidaire  Intergénérationnelle), an agency that brings together home-sharing organisations across France.

Home-sharing across generations usually involves an older person renting a room to a young person below market rate or a young person getting to live rent-free in return for offering a set number of hours to help and spend time with their co-habitee.

FRANCE 24 reported that the study revealed 61 percent of people between 18 and 30 living in an intergenerational household said this was their opportunity to live in a “traditional” household. More than half of pensioners said having a young tenant meant they would not have to move into a retirement home.

Joachim Pasquet, COSI’s director, told FRANCE 24: “It’s like symbiosis in biology. There’s a reciprocal relationship between two entities.”

The TV channel reported on the living arrangements of retired social worker Véronique Estival, who lives in a Parisian suburb, and Welsh student Claire Garnett, who had moved to the city to study from Cardiff.

Reassuring presence

Véronique said: “My entire family lives elsewhere in France. I’m the only one who lives in the Paris area… I was alone. With my health issues, I told myself it was getting complicated.”

Through the agency Pari Solidaire, Véronique, 56, met Claire, 25, and they agreed to live together with Claire playing reduced rent and offering companionship and a reassuring presence to her host.

She said: “It was like it was meant to be. I want to stay for however long it takes me to learn French, that’s the aim for the moment.”

Potential solution for housing shortage

Just like in the UK, France’s population is ageing while rents are rising and younger people find it hard to buy a home.

Intergenerational living might not be a currently popular trend in the UK, but as more innovative solutions are sought for the housing crisis, it’s one that could catch on.