Research shows that people who live alone are less financially secure, more unhappy, and more anxious than those who live with other people. A study by the Office of National Statistics shows that people over 45 are especially at risk.
While fewer young people live alone today than they did 20 years ago, the number of 45 to 64-year-olds living by themselves has increased by more than 50% since 1997, according to the ONS.
Many of us thrive in solitude and live alone by choice – but some of us do not. What are you to do when you find yourself in the best years of your life, with plenty to give but nobody to give to?
Many people, including retirement expert Mary Beth Franklin believe that how you live is greatly affected by where you live.
“Moving someplace new where you can live amongst peers, try new things and make friends through shared interests, is a great way to stay healthy and happy as you grow older”, Franklin says.
Back in 2007, Jan Olav Frestad was anxious to prove Franklin’s theory out in the real world. He created Doyén: an affordable housing concept where owning an apartment gives access to shared facilities and social activities.
Two years after residents moved into the first Doyén project, Frestad asked to hear their stories.
“When people first moved in, they told me they weren’t very outgoing, they didn’t think they would use the common areas, they wouldn’t participate in social activities… As it turns out, those same people have been using the shared facilities every day, and they’re all part of at least one club or another.”
61-year-old resident Wenche believes the key to Doyén’s success is that people move in with the shared goal of finding a social environment, but without feeling forced to socialise.
“That’s what makes this place special. You can be social whenever you feel like it.”
More than ten years after the launch of Doyén, Frestad and his team have taken the concept to the next level under the name “Ambera” and are launching the first Ambera project in Spain: an entire community designed to connect people through shared interests and physical meeting places.
Just like in Doyén, homeowners in Ambera will have access to resort-like sports and recreational facilities and dozens of optional activities to choose from every day. A fixed amenities fee covers all community offerings, including external property maintenance, allowing residents to enjoy life and make friends without having to worry about financial security.
Since word of the new community started to spread in June of this year, the team has received dozens of emails from curious people in the process of deciding where to spend their retirement.
One of those emails came from Kari Svendsen, who pointed out that more and more people, including herself, live alone. When she learned about Ambera’s social community concept, she was immediately intrigued.
“I think the idea behind Ambera is amazing. I’d love to be a part of this if it fits my situation as single.”
People living alone run a greater risk of becoming unhappy, anxious and financially insecure. Can living in a community like Ambera reduce that risk?
What makes us happier than exploring our interests together with people we care about? What better medicine for anxiety than living in a friendly community where no-one forces you to do anything, but where there’s always something fun to do if and when you feel like it? What better guarantee of future financial security than flat fees where everything is included?
Ambera won’t solve the loneliness epidemic alone, but one thing is certain: you’ll never be alone in an Ambera community. Unless you want to be, of course.
Office of National Statistics