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Intentional Community or Retirement Community – Could a Hippie Commune Be the Answer?

intentional communities and shared housing


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Intentional Communities for Retirement (continued)

Well, if you rent the Jennifer Aniston movie Wanderlust, I have a feeling that Wanderlust is loosely based on The Farm (with a lot of clichés from other communes thrown in.) I don’t know this for a fact, but if you watch the movie and you think, “Wow, those people are ca-ray-zee,” or you laugh at the funny parts and don’t turn the movie off, you’ll know where you stand on the idea of intentional communities.

And, NO, I don’t think that The Farm is heavily into free love, but I haven’t been around hippies in forty years… so what do I know? Actually, I don't care one way or another. Consenting adults should be free to form whatever unions they want with other consenting adults. Right? (Note: For those of you who are interested, I have read that the Baby Boomers in "The Villages" in Florida ARE into doing the wild thing indiscriminately, but you’ll have to do your own research on that subject.)

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The Good Things About The Farm

Here are the things that I like about The Farm commune in Tennessee:

  • The Farm was founded by “my people,” a bunch of hippies from San Francisco.
  • The Farm has been around forever (founded in 1971) so the neighbors aren’t going to freak out.
  • It sounds like The Farm has a good mix of ages – from kids to Baby Boomers.
  • The Farm operates their own Peace-Core-ish organization called Plenty to help people outside of The Farm. (Plenty was one of the first relief agencies to get into NOLA during Katrina.)
  • Social change is good. I believe in “social change” as long as it’s done through "regular people" and not forced upon everyone by government regulation.

It sounds like the farm is always evolving. The farm started off as a place where you took a vow of poverty, but these days you don’t have to give up your assets… or hand over all of your money to the group. And, it sounds like the people on the commune are all responsible for their own financial well-being. As a Libertarian, this philosophy dovetails nicely with my lifelong convictions.

On the other hand, the group sounds like an extended family, and someone would probably help you out with food and such if you were sick... or someone might give you a job at one of their local entrepreneurial businesses in exchange for food and/or a small income if you were temporarily in dire straits.

Things I Might Not Like About The Farm

If I ever really considered joining an intentional community, I would have to think long and hard about it. And, even though I am not very mainstream, I am basically a city “girl” who might be viewed by some as a yuppie. Hey, my favorite place is Paris (although I travel on the CHEAP.) Here are some of my other concerns and questions:

The place is out in the sticks: Would a city girl go crazy in the middle of nowhere? Summertown is one and a half hours from the nearest city (Nashville.)

They might be political zealots: I’m not a Democrat, but I'm not a Republican either. I am very liberal on most issues, but I believe in freedom (and family and community) more than anything else. If social change is forced upon people by regulations, it will not work. It must be done from the ground up not the top down.

The place is small: The commune only has 175 adults plus some children. That might be cool or it might be strange.

Are these people Rule Nazis? How much would the titular or de facto “leaders” of the commune tell me how to live my life? For example, I might be okay as a vegan, but I like fish and dairy products. Would I be shunned or singled out for living on frozen Costco salmon and probiotic Greek yoghurt?

Where would I live? Would I have to build my own house? Could I live at The Farm in something temporary like an Airstream trailer? And, if I did that, could I use The Farm as a home base and travel in my Airstream from time to time or would that make me an interloper?

Who lives there? How do people become a member of something like The Farm and what kind of people are they looking for?

Am I Healthy Enough to Live on a Commune?

I have had health problems all my life. For example, I can’t sleep without a C-pap machine or I get dizzy and fall over from a lack of REM sleep, so I need some kind of electrical energy source. There’s probably a way to go solar, but if The Farm is not on the grid, I might have a problem. On the other hand, many of the residents on The Farm work in the healthcare field, and there is an “ecotopian retirement and health care center adjacent to The Farm” … whatever that means, so The Farm or a similar community might somehow make me healthier.

Also, the Farm is a commune… and from what I recall, everyone must contribute in some way or a commune will fall apart. Would I be required to lift things if I were part of a commune? Lifting is just not possible for me. I have severe neck problems from an ancient skiing accident. However, there may be other ways I could contribute. I’m a born teacher, and I’m extremely creative when it comes to finding new ways to engage kids (with learning differences) in "school" work, and The Farm has a homeschooling facility. So, I would be a natural at getting kids to put on Shakespearean plays or to write great short stories or to learn how to use SEO in ways that are not taught in any books.

More Answers Soon... I Hope

Well, I seem to be asking more questions than I’m answering, so I’m going to publish this and send it to The Farm in an attempt to get more information. And, there are references below. However, if you are interested in alternative communities for retiring amongst a group of like-minded people, come back to this site because I hope to have more answers as I continue my research.


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Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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1 Comment

  1. Louis Mack


    As an experienced writer, I am interested in submitting a guest post piece regarding - Flower Power: The benefits of a low consumption retirement lifestyle for the Woodstock generation.

    Nearing my own retirement, I feel its especially important to consider the many different angles of planning a low key, relaxing, clutter free lifestyle during our golden years. Your blog stands out to me as an excellent opportunity to inform others like myself that while it may seem slightly overwhelming at first, a little research can go a long way when planning one’s retirement.

    Please let me know if you think this subject would be a good fit for your baby boomers & retirement blog page .

    I look forward to hearing back from you.


    Louis Mack