“You mean you all eat the same meals –Together?” Some reflections on living as a family in a college community

“Isn’t it cool that we all live in the same house!” O. (aged 4)

So, we’ve been living in a college residential property for over six months now, sharing a big, old, beautiful house with four other young families, our kids spilling out each day to play on a shared front lawn, our daily lives spilling over into one another’s as we learn what it is to live in a community. I’ve heard it said it’s a little like living on a camp, but I prefer to think of it as like living in a small village. The sort it would be hard to find.

And it’s been long enough for the honeymoon period of high summer to wear off, and the realities of winter to sink in. We know our neighbours beyond politeness. We’ve seen each other’s pyjamas.There was the morning, just last week, when a surprise fire drill sent me and my dressing gown to the assembly point outside our house with more than a dozen others (all fully and respectfully dressed, mind you).

And the aspects I thought sounded so strange when we were making plans to come here, like meals served in a communal dining hall to over a hundred people at a time, a shared front garden, one laundry room, make their own sort of sense now.

And sure, like anything, it isn’t perfect. There have been (and no doubt will be again) times when the night-screams of our children wake those sleeping upstairs; there is the inconvenience of carrying washing to the laundry room through the rain, or of loosing baby socks in amongst other peoples’ laundry loads; and of course there is the frustration of living immersed in an ever-circulating germ pool. But my overall verdict on this experience?

I’m profoundly grateful to be here. For myself, and for the kids, let alone for Dr M (who is the one studying here), it has been a time of goodness and growth.

And so, because some things are just worth sharing, below I will try and share a bit of what living here has meant for us so far. . . .

Living in community is:

Hands to hold your crying baby,

Kids playing in the post-dinner dusk light,

Making friends that become family. . . .

Living in community is:

Never running out of milk,

Someone to watch your kids while you shower,

Sharing oneanothers’ ups and downs,

Kids going up and down the stairs to play. . . .

Living in community is:

A vase of freshly arranged flowers on your doorstep. . . .

Living in community is:

Borrowed class notes when sickness means absence,

Conviviality not competition,


Being able to walk around at night knowing that even when the doors you pass are closed, that you walk amongst friends…

Living in community is:

Getting to know each others’ stories,

And making our own, new story together

As we enact, side by side, shoulder to shoulder, the paths that He has chosen for us. . . .

[This post is written with profound thankfulness to our little college community!]


Impacted by these words in some way? I’d love to hear you’re thoughts.