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We all need a safe and hopefully comfortable place to call home. Currently we are seeing a mass crisis of young people no longer being able to afford to buy their own homes and more and more people falling into homelessness. Now, more than ever we need to be looking at alternatives to traditional housing. There are many options available to us with an increase in living off-grid in the form of houseboats, the tiny home revolution and cooperative housing. With many cheap new build homes springing up for increasingly out of reach prices it is easy to be skeptical of the direction of traditional housing but this is a great opportunity to take the initiative in shaping our lives the way we see fit.

London and particularly East London has a long history of shared arts spaces in the form of warehouses being converted into studio and live spaces shared by creatives. This form of live/work space allows artists to minimise their rent payments while maximising their opportunity to create and collaborate within the shared space. For those of us seeking a greater sense of community and self expression this can be a great option.

There has been an increase in people living on houseboats in recent years, dipping out of land life and onto the water can give a great sense of freedom. The process can be a little complicated as there is much more to consider than with a traditional house. You need to maintain fuel, get a generator or ideally solar panels, refill your water and apply for a License from the Canal Trust. Then unless you are able to obtain a permanent mooring you will have to move your boat every two weeks. It’s one for the adventurous for sure. Many families find a great lifestyle on houseboats lending to a more active lifestyle and although there are also upkeep costs to consider, a houseboat is a fraction of the cost of owning a brick and mortar house.

Working together as a community can make a big difference in the affordability and availability of homes. Zurich and Berlin both have amazing examples of cooperative housing, these are democratic groups sharing ownership of spaces, not for profit, using green energy and creating a harmonious community for those living in them. The projects in these cities have been a long term movement now incorporating more than 75,000 tenants in Zurich. The housing collective worked together to gain control of their living spaces and move them in a direction that is extremely beneficial for residents as they have full control over their space knowing that no one is making a profit from them.

The UK too has a number of housing collectives and although they have not come as far as the examples from Zurich they are leading the way in allowing locals to have a fair say in how their community is developed. The power of a housing collective is that it prevents locals from being displaced, as we are seeing a lot of as the value of homes continues to grow without being in line with wage increases. There have been many success stories from ordinary people starting a housing collective and taking control of their space such as the Liverpool residences who formed a Community Land Trust to stop derelict houses in their neighborhood from being demolished, they were then able to start the “Home for a Pound Scheme.” The LILAC or Low Impact Living Affordable Community of Leeds is another amazing example of what can be achieved as a group. They were able to become a co-operative and fund the building of eco-friendly flats and houses with communal gardens. You can find out more about housing collectives here:

There are also many helpful services like g320 and Triangle Housing which aim to support vulnerable people with getting into housing. Housing associations like these run properties in London and provide living support and coaching for those in need of the service to gain independence. There is a solution for everyone but it is important to continue to support those in need.

This shows there are many ways to facilitate a fulfilling life in terms of where you live to suit everyone. No matter what situation you are in there is a way to achieve a comfortable home life.

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