Got the Latest Lingo Down? Raise Your Hand If You Know What This Question Means: “Are You a Cougar Who’s Craigslisting Because You’re About to Become A Co-Ho?”

October 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Living, Relationships & Family

Want Bigger House and Companionship? Consider Co-Ho: Buying With a Friend

“Whatchutalkinabout!” Where Did You Come Up With Those Strange Words?

Don’t worry, there’s no need to run for a bar of soap to wash out your friend’s mouth when you hear words like:

Likewise, when you see or hear these odd-looking words, there’s no need to furrow your forehead in confusion, as did the young Gary Coleman in that classic 70s sitcom, “Diff’rent Strokes.” (Remember, he became famous for his “straight man” line repeatedly delivered to his older brother, Whatchutalkinbout Willis?

Instead, we have one simple (known) word for you, “relax.” Help for understanding these odd words – most generated as a result of new technology – is here…

No Need to Send Out For a Fresh Supply of Botox to Smooth Your Wrinkled Brow!

Of course, you know your challenges with strangely-used words happen because English is a living language, and that means that new words – or new usages for terms you know – evolve regularly.  Sometimes the liveliness of the language also means Boomers end up feeling out of touch. 

For example, perhaps you know that a “cougar” is an attractive older woman who dates younger men, and you can guess that the reference to “Craigslisting” means attempting to sell your personal possessions on the popular, geographically-oriented classified advertising website.

But the usage of “co-ho” may have you stumped. Nothing “fishy” about it, by the way, but that’ll be explained in a second…

Meanwhile, Perhaps You’ve Also Run Into Other New Terms Under Situations Like These:

  • A friend commented that since you’ve been spending so much time hanging out in theblogosphere,” you might know why he’d received an email request from a peer suggesting that he “friend” him
  • Or,  you’ve been puzzled hearing people blithely discuss the relative merits of “Digging” a web site versus “Stumbling” it
  • Maybe you decided to nod knowingly and act like you understood what was being discussed when a your niece told you that her “bff” had just “twitted” her with a link to a fantastic new “mash up”
  • Then again, perhaps your “Huh? What’s That? Meter” blinked when you heard a recent Tonight show guest tell Leno how much her husband likes her “tramp stamp while another guest spoke knowingly about being all “tatted out

If all of these terms have your head spinning, the good news is that you can check out the definition of “co-ho” and all the other new terms mentioned right here, in our helpful glossary.

OK, Now That You Know That the “Co-Ho” in The Headline Refers to the Relatively New Concept of “Communal Home-ownership,” and Has Nothing to Do With Migrating Salmon… Let’s Talk About It In More Detail 

Perhaps you’ve already started to consider the merits of a decision  to “go the co-ho route,” and “craigslist” your extra furniture…

Let’s take a look at longer look at the concept than we’d done with the other new words, as this is a significant phenomenon which may grow to trend-like proportions. And, though similar, it is distinctly different than the concept of co-housing, which you may have heard of, as it’s often associated with the creation of neighborhoods where people can safely “age-in-place.”

A Co-Ho Arrangement Is Different Than A Co-housing Agreement

Co-housing is a concept that originated in Denmark in the 1960s.

It’s sort of like getting all your friends together to live in separate units of one apartment building, similar to the arrangement on TV show, “Friends” except that you’d more likely all be living in your own homes on the same block. 

The goal of co-housing’s members is to intentionally create a community where residents are consciously committed to living together as a (planned) community. In other words, in a co-housing arrangement:

  • The members actively participate in the design and operation of their neighborhood, which is designed primarily to encourage social interaction and often the overall goal, as mentioned above, is to facilitate “aging-in-place”
  • Social interaction is key. Think of it as a return to the days of your childhood, when people knew and were close to their neighbors
  • In co-housing communities, the physical design is meant to encourage both social contact and individual space
  • Private homes contain all the features of conventional homes, but residents share extensive common facilities such as open space, courtyards, a playground and a common building or social hall 
  • The common building usually features a large kitchen and dining area as well as a living area and game area
  • Often, residents attend a number of group meals per week, and community events are regularly planned
  • The housing itself is usually clustered with parking on the perimeter and walking paths designed to encourage interaction in the middle
  • It is designed to create many opportunities for casual meetings between neighbors, as well as for deliberate gatherings such as celebrations, clubs and business meetings

On the Other Hand, the “Co-Ho” Arrangement is Much More Unique, Individual and Small Scale. Much Less of a Planned Community Than it is a Personal Conract Between Two – Or Rarely as Many as Three or Four – People.

  • For a quick dose of clarity,  you can check out the recent TIME magazine story entitled “Should You Become a Co-Ho?” (You probably overlooked that story when it first came out… that’s when you still associated the term “co-ho” with the spectacular west coast sport fish…right?)
  • “Co-hos” are people who have made the decision to live together in a relationship which is more permanent than if they were merely roommates, but does not incorporate any romantic involvement.
  • Think in terms of the movie “The Odd Couple,” or maybe the TV show “Will and Grace,” – though neither of those scenarios dealt with the residential ownership issue.  

The co-ho arrangement – friends co-owning houses – though first adopted by 20-somethings who were looking to be able to afford a larger house, really makes sense for Baby Boomers.

Co-owning Homes Makes Sense for Boomers, Since Almost One-Third of all Boomers Are Single, or Spouseless

In Case You’re Wondering, That’s Some 25 Million Single Boomers Who Aren’t Likely to Marry, With the Breakdown Working Out Like This:

  • 12 percent never married, about twice the percentage of the previous generation
  • 16 percent are divorced or separated
  • 4 percent are widowed

Beyond That, As the News Media – or Your Parents – Like to Remind Boomer Women:

  • Women over 40 have a far harder time finding mates than men
  • Boomer males – those who don’t live in cardboard houses or under the highway overpass – remarry at higher rates
  • Men die sooner, which means the pool of available – and desirable spouses – is smaller for women
  • So unless you’re a Boomer woman who still subscribes to that 70s-era women power manta – “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” – the sad fact is many Boomer women find themselves living alone, spouseless and childless

Bottom Line: Due to Scattered Family and Sheer Numbers, Many Boomers – Men and Women – Will Need to Find a Way to Create Their Own Support Systems as They Grow Older: Living in a Traditional Family Unit – With Spouse, Children or Even Siblings – Just Isn’t Possible 

Which makes the concept of living with friends a lot more palatable than living alone, without a built-in support system.

You can read an example of Boomer women “going co-ho,” in this story from The Richmond (Virginia) Times. 

Here, the partners are longtime friends and empty-nesters: Susan Grady, 68 and Sharon McAbee, 52.  Both work full-time. Grady is a human-resources generalist with Virginia Blood Services, while McAbee is self-employed.

Before they decided to buy a home together, they’d been close friends for 30 years. In fact, Grady is godmother to McAbee’s daughter, a college senior: 

  • They had spent many years talking on the phone week after week, lamenting their loneliness
  • “Finally, we said, ‘We’re so stupid,’” Grady recalled
  • Even so, their decision to join forces and stop living alone wasn’t undertaken without care

Getting Their Arrangement Underway Wasn’t Done Quickly, They Took Time and Due Diligence

The friends say it took them a year to find the perfect house — but they’re delighted with their spacious home on a golf course.

To assure their individual needs were protected, they ironed out the legal details with an attorney, got a mortgage together, and have been more than satisfied with the results since moving more than a year ago.

The two share cooking duties and other household chores. They live with three dogs and a one-eyed cat in a five-bedroom, 3,800-square-foot house that provides plenty of space for privacy and for welcoming visiting children, mothers and other relatives. They even hosted both of their extended families last Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  • “We’ve been really happy here,” said Grady, a mother, grandmother and widow 
  • McAbee, a divorcee , had been renting a home since her divorce but liked the idea of “paying into something I’m going to get equity out of.”
  • The both agree that it’s been a great decision: “We like the location, we like the house, and our neighbors are great.”

A Way for Empty Nesters to Fight Off Loneliness…

Ben Winters, their Realtor, notes that for older homebuyers, the advantages of co-owning a home are largely financial – shared expenses and home maintenance, more buying power – but it also can help stave off loneliness for those living alone.

  • “The other thing is companionship,” said McAbee, “When my daughter went to college, I was miserable.”
  • Said Grady, “It’s nice to have someone to cook for.”

Apparently Grady and McAbee are still working on merging their furniture, so maybe someone ought to tell them about the power of Craigslisting the surplus