Live as a “family”
One of the main benefits of shared living is companionship. While we will all have the option of retreating to our own suites to watch our favourite TV shows or read, we generally come together for our main meal of the day, chat regularly over morning coffee, etc. At the same time, we're all living independently. We don't necessarily tell anyone where we're going but we do try to let others know whether or not we'll be home for dinner.
We have had lots of visitors. One of the housemates invited the grandchildren of another over to bake christmas cookies. While we allow each other space to visit with people on their own, we all at least drop in to say "hi" when someone comes over - and sometimes we stay to chat. If anyone really wants private conversation, there's room to do that.
We extend our "family" concept to groceries as well - no one can say “that’s my yogurt” or “who used my laundry soap”. If we’re buying yogurt for one person, maybe we’re buying cookies for another.
Like any “family” we occasionally have issues. But we’re old enough now to be able to work through those. We just remember to be kind but direct in our communications. It works.
Pay for the things that are likely to be irritants
We’ve tried to think of the types of things that were irritants when we shared apartments with college roommates, and ways that we can minimize those irritants. One of the big differences now is that most of us can afford to pay for services. So we have a weekly cleaning service that covers the entire house. We have two dishwashers so there's never a reason to leave dishes in the sink. We have a snow removal contract. We will likely hire someone for garden work, other than the "bits" that we enjoy.
Needs will change
We are all fairly active now and so we share responsibilities for shopping and the preparation of the main meal of the day. We look out for one another but we did not sign on to become caregivers. As our needs change, we may hire a part-time caregiver to shop and prepare meals. One day, one or more of us may need to have overnight care available. The cost of additional services will be split among those who need it. Splitting the costs will help make it possible to stay in our own home even as our health deteriorates.