Share houses for grown ups: Abbeyfield House

Article originated from Compassion for Financial Capability (CFFC)

Being single or a widower as we get older can become a particularly lonely experience – especially if we live by ourselves. We may also find ourselves struggling to get by from week to week on a single superannuation income. While there are certain activities or living arrangements we can enter into to help stay connected to others, or things that we can do to help make life more affordable, Abbeyfield House presents a unique solution to both.

What is Abbeyfield House?

Abbeyfield House is shared living, in large houses, dotted around the country, for those aged 55 and up. These houses are just like regular houses on any street you’d see in any suburb. There are now 14 Abbeyfield Houses across both the North and South islands. They’re sort of like a big family home, or share house, but for grown ups.

Each house has:

  • Up to 14 residents (or flatmates, if you will!)
  • A housekeeper/cook who cleans all shared spaces in the house, shops, cooks, and prepares 2 meals a day
  • Lounge, dining and kitchen areas (and sometimes an extra guest room, where guests can stay overnight)
  • Volunteers who come along to help out, teach new skills, and engage in fun activities
  • Facilities that have been built to allow mobility aids like wheelchairs
  • A studio room with ensuite for each resident
  • All residents have a say about house management and vetting of newcomers

Residents can outfit their rooms as they wish, just like a share house.

Affordable living for recipients of national super payments

Abbeyfield House is ideally suited to those receiving NZ Super, as an alternative to traditionally more expensive rental or other housing options. While the houses themselves are equipped to accommodate those from the age of 55+, the current age of residents across the houses ranges from 63 – 90+ years.

Who can join an Abbeyfield House?

These houses are specifically for those older New Zealanders who still crave independence but enjoy the family living style arrangement of sharing a house with others. It is for those who are in reasonably good health and do not require carers.

Residents are required to share living costs, and while generally, the houses are for singles, couples may apply to join a household too. Residents must abide by house rules (which are at the liberty of the household group as a whole), and take care of cleaning their own rooms, or employing the services of a housekeeper to help them.

For more information about Abbeyfield House, or to apply for a placement, visit the Abbeyfield website.