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Communal Living as an Option for Low-Income Households

Rachelle is a digital content creator who enjoys playing video games in their spare time.

Communal living has many benefits.

Communal living has many benefits.

An Affordable Living Arrangement

If you're working and living from paycheck to paycheck, you have low income, or you're constantly on the verge of homelessness, communal living might be a valid option for you to consider. As long as you are willing to earn your keep and pitch in to help the community's stated mission, the benefits could be almost immeasurable.

When administered correctly, a community living establishment can be thought of as a utopia, a place where the entire community can flourish, as well as the individual members within the community.

This family lives in a modern-day income-sharing community.

This family lives in a modern-day income-sharing community.

What Is a Commune?

A commune, aka intentional community or community living establishment, is a place where a group of people get together and decide to share their lives. The people who choose to live in a commune often share common beliefs, interests, and/or values.

The communal economic structure, consensus-driven decision-making, and often-times keen focus on ecological living are attractive to many people, so the concept is ideal. However, for like-minded people who are struggling to make it from paycheck to paycheck, the communal economic structure could offer a perfect lifeline.

Modern-day intentional community

Modern-day intentional community

What Is Shared in a Commune?

In addition to sharing common beliefs, interests, and values, people who have opted for community living often share resources. Some communes even go so far as to share property, possessions, work, income, and assets, but there are enough options to suit just about anyone's expectations.

If you are someone who wants to seriously investigate the possibility of living in a commune, you need to understand that you will be expected to contribute to the community in some manner. Your contribution could be as simple as volunteering a certain amount of hours or as complex as putting in full-time hours to benefit the stated cause or mission.

Why Living in a Commune Might Be a Good Idea If You Have Low Income

As I alluded to above, if you are living from paycheck to paycheck, living in a commune might be something to seriously consider because pooling your assets or easing your financial burden might be a good way to get you ahead. Only you know if community living would be right for your personal situation.

Even if you want to try community living on a temporary basis, it might be enough to give you time to pursue a short-term educational goal, learn a new skill, or even start an online business and get it off the ground.

Reputable community living establishments will allow time for members to pursue personal activities. If regularly scheduled personal time isn't offered, you should run in the other direction; because you don't want to get caught up in a cult—and cults are still alive and well . . . unfortunately. One of the positive tenets of community living is that each member should be able to flourish, so they can, in turn, give back to the community.

People with low income might flourish in a community living situation because it could possibly remove some of the financial pressures of trying to stretch a paycheck beyond its limits, and it fosters a healthy environment to develop friendships with like-minded people.

When you're not constantly stressed out over how you're going to pay your bills and keep food on the table, you will be much more at ease. Life is too short to worry about bills and have to work just to scrape by each week, so you owe it to yourself to weigh the viable options . . . this is the purpose of this article.

Twin Oaks Community is is one of the longest-running and largest secular intentional communities in North America.

Twin Oaks Community is is one of the longest-running and largest secular intentional communities in North America.

Communal Living in the United States

The establishment and development of communes have had a long and varied history in the U.S. Back in the 1960s, there was a spike in community living establishments due to the emergence of the hippie counter-cultural movement; this lasted throughout the 1970s.

There was a decline in communes through the '80s and mid-90s, but the tides are currently turning. Given the current political climate, the exorbitantly high cost of living, the advancement of technology, and an increasing desire for privacy, community living options are becoming "popular" once again.

Consider the Dangers of Communal Living

There have been past horrific incidents involving people who chose to reside in communal living establishments; think back to The Branch Davidians or Jim Jones' Peoples Temple. Those people all lived in intentionally established communal living projects.

Although most established communal living organizations are egalitarian and want the best for their members, you need to be vigilant about your safety. Beware of any organization that puts most of the emphasis on what you can do for it, instead of a 50/50 benefit, watch out for cult-like personalities and listen to your conscious if anything doesn't feel right.

As with anything else, you need to exercise sound judgment when choosing the right community for you. In fact, I would be remiss if I didn't seriously stress the importance of keeping a prudent lookout for people and/or organizations who might attempt to abuse you or manipulate your trust.

Your Next Steps . . .

If, after careful consideration, you decide you want to look into communal living, your next step should be to learn about the various settlements across the country.


Rachelle Williams (author) from Tempe, AZ on January 26, 2020:

Thank you so much B! I didn't want to cast a dark shadow over the article, I just wanted to remind folks to be safe.

Becky from Oklahoma on January 26, 2020:

Very interesting article. Haven't thought about communes or communal living in some years. Food for thought in these tough economical times. It's good that you included and reminded everyone of past communal living tragedies such as Jim Jones and others in your article. Looking forward to the next article in this series.