Re: I'm frustrated- diverse finances
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Wed, 8 Jul 1998 00:45:21 -0500

We want diversity, we say. But it can be challenging. And income 
diversity is part of that.

At RoseWind in Port Townsend, it helps that we are a "lot development" 
model. At buy-in, a buyer pays a sum that covers their building site, the 
commons, the infrastructure (roads, utilities, etc) , and the common 
house. If, when, and what a person builds is up to them. We have building 
envelopes with setback requirements, and an advisory architectural review 
process, but people can build, and have built, a home of 800 sq ft or 
2800 sq ft., with lots of custom work or none. 

Common expenses still require the concurrence of all lot owners, so I 
imagine if some folks here wanted a swimming pool and others didn't have 
money for it, they'd have to form their own pool fund somehow.

Isn't there some way that a family like you describe can have their 
lower-cost, lower-quality, home, and those who want more can pay more and 
have it? Why are you all tied together? Even in groups where all the 
units were built at once, and "to match" , there have been arrangements 
whereby a standard was set, but that people could adjust what they got at 
their own expense, and have more space or more custom work or fancier 
appliances or flooring.

 If you break out your common house and other non-home items, then you 
can set a firm price for that, evenly divided. The differences in homes 
could be reflected in the other part of the payment.

Here, we coexist pretty smoothly amongst a great variety of income 
levels. We just looked at doing something that could possibly end us 
temporarily in debt. Could we as a group guarantee the amount in 
question? Certain individuals couldn't guarantee a proportional share, 
but we concluded that -- as a group-- we had adequate resources that if 
it came down to it, we'd be able to individually loan the group enough to 
cover it, without each and every member needing to do that.

Another possibility seems to be that those with more money can gift some 
to certain projects: say to pay for an upgrade to a wooden floor in the 
common house dining room. That way you can even influence what it's spent 

The group does have to come to an understanding of what level of 
assessments and obligations is expected. A low-income family can get help 
to buy in, but are they prepared to pay annual assessments and so forth?

There are also cohousing groups that have a much higher average home cost 
and level of amenities than others, if you are willing to relocate. 

Good luck to you.    Lynn Nadeau, Port Townsend WA

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