Communes are not just for hippies and polygamists anymore

With the developed world’s debt crisis ever-looming, the rather left-field idea of finding compatible people and living on a commune is becoming increasingly attractive.

ONE of my childhood pals, Natalia, has always been a big believer in lasting friendships. After graduation from high school, alarmed by the way our group of close friends had found ourselves drifting apart, spread across the globe, she came up with a fantasy scenario.

“Wouldn’t it be great”, she mused one day, “if we could all live together in a commune?” Fits of laughter ensued – it was the sort of thing only hippies and polygamists did. Our fresh-faced 18-year-old selves were silently plotting our own paths to world domination, and it didn’t involve working the soil or building compost toilets.

Ten (or so) years later, with the world economy in tatters and world domination not going exactly to plan, I’ve come to realise it’s one of the most practical things Natalia has ever come up with.

Sustainable living has become de rigueur, and not just among hippies and polygamists.  Governments, developers and environmentalists all seem to want us to find a way to lessen our carbon footprint and live more “sustainably”. In practice, that means things like creating energy-efficient homes, eating food that hasn’t travelled across the globe to get to our plates and ditching our cars in favour of greener transport.

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Many people in my generation are also struggling to be able to afford to get on the property ladder.

With the cost of gas and electricity sky-rocketing, and food prices rising faster than inflation, groups of compatible 20- and 30-somethings could do worse than purchasing a plot of land in a fertile corner of the world where they could live, grow food and share resources.

It’s still a bit of a fantasy scenario, but it’s – admittedly worryingly – one that is looking increasingly appealing.


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