Retirement Communities: College Dorms of the Future?

Last week my mom posted a heartwarming video about a 24-year old college student who lives in a retirement community. Her music school brokered a deal with the community to allow a few students to live there rent-free if they performed for the residents once a month.

Brief aside about the website that hosts the video (and pretty much any website like it that really wants people to watch their videos): The hook written above the video is, “This 24-Year-Old Lives In A Retirement Home. And You’ll LOVE The Reason WHY!”

If that wasn’t enough, beneath the video is, “Judson Manor is home to over 100 senior residents and one kind 24-year-old student. It may seem bizarre, but once you hear the reason WHY, you’ll be smiling as big as I am!”

Then you learn 10 seconds into the video that the reason isn’t really inspiring at all–the student lives there because it’s free rent! That really isn’t inspirational or smile-worthy–calm down a bit.

freshman-dorm-ce35031a4ac23959_largeIf I look back at my 33 years of life, I think the best social period of any of those years was my freshman dorm. Back in 1999 at Wash U, we didn’t have any of the fancy suites or butler services that college kids have today. We had two floors of 30 or so rooms each, and the two floors shared a common area where people could hang out.

I look back at those times and marvel at how extroverted I was. I always wanted to be around people–I wanted to go to the dining hall in a big clump of floormates, which was easy to do. I wanted to play any sport at a whim with any number of people on the floor. I always wanted to talk to people and hang out in various rooms and the common area.

A big part of the reason this was the case was because of the setup of the dorm. There was no place to hide, so hiding wasn’t an option. We were almost forced to be social, and most people embraced it.

I miss it. I truly wish I could be sitting in my freshman room right now while I write this blog, door open, people wandering in and out. I don’t miss the roommate situation, but I could handle it if necessary.

So when I saw that video, I thought the idea was brilliant. I know that retirement communities have many faults, but the nice ones seem like a college dorm on steroids. All your friends (many of them new) are just a few feet away, as is the cafeteria–no need to drive anywhere. It sounds amazing.

I really like the concept described in the video. Sure, most 24-year olds probably don’t want to live with a bunch of octogenarians. But it could also be a lot of fun for the right person.

What do you think? Do you miss your freshman dorm? Would a retirement community be a suitable replacement?