If you’ve ever seen a movie that’s set back in the 1800s, chances are you’ve noticed a few differences compared to how we live today. Yes, they travel by horse-drawn carriage, and the clothes are more labor intensive, but there’s also one that I find the most interesting of all: the living arrangements. In those giant Victorian homes, it’s as though there is no end to the amount of people living in a single house. Extended family members, friends, a traveling guest who just never left. They all seemed to find the richest relative and stay put.

In recent times though, it seems many have taken this practice to heart as well. College graduates have been moving back in with their parents, however, it’s no longer just the grads getting a roommate. In fact, a survey conducted by AARP found that 11 percent of readers over 50 years old are living with their grandchildren or parents; 19 percent are living with their children. The Washington Post also said the latest census showed a 33 percent increase in communal family living situations. Extended family members and friends are living together and others are even taking out ads.

The “Mommune”
In a piece by CBS, two women share their story as to how they help split the bills and the responsibilities by sharing a single roof. Kristan Andrews and her daughter, Madeline, 2, and Dana McCants and her daughter, Aubrey, 4, have all been living in the same space in the Hollywood area for the past two years. Both are single moms and both of the girls’ fathers are an active part of their lives. The two moms have simply found a way to help save money. For example, the women take turns going on dates or out with friends, and say they save an average of $65 on one of these “out” nights simply by not having to hire a babysitter.

But McCants and Andrews aren’t the only families to share a home – there is an entire website dedicated to it. CoAbode, founded 10 years ago, allows single moms to create their own mommunes. The website is free to use and was created by Carmen Boss after she found herself in a similar situation. Boss took out a “roommate wanted” ad, and received 18 responses; she picked the most compatible for herself and matched up all the others. The service now has more than 45,000 members.

What to Look Out For
As you can imagine, no matter how compatible two families may be, there’s bound to be conflict while living in a single space. According to a piece in LifeWhile, one of the best ways to help create peace is with space. Make sure the shared home is large enough, and that separate families can have their own space – especially if there are teenagers involved. But, separate space doesn’t mean isolated. All members should also interact and spend time with one another regularly to help reduce tension.

While communal living situations may be known as a more modern or unusual trend, as these families have shown, it seems to be working. Simply by sharing, families are able to cut back on costs and make ends meet.

Mike James