Re: Students and Post-teens as Renters
From: Jeff Hobson (
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 16:15:44 -0500
I lived in N Street Cohousing from age 23 through age 25.  I was a renter
along with a slightly older couple (late 20s) and a slightly older-than-that
single person (early 30s).  There were several houses in N Street that had
students, some early-20s graduate students, some undergraduates.  The common
house often had (and still has, I believe) undergraduates. I think I have
some perspective on this issue.

1. Are Students & Post-College folks a problem in Cohousing?
No.  I don't remember any serious problems of noise, wild alcoholic or
drug-infested parties ... at least not stemming from us young folks.  If
anything, it was the old hippies - hi Kevin ;^) - running naked from hot tub
to sauna that grossed out us young folks.  Okay, maybe Kevin isn't so old,
and maybe it was the really young folks (the kids) who were grossed out, but
you get my point: I did not experience students and post-college folks to be
a problem at N Street.  

2. Do Students & Post-College Folks Want to Live in Cohousing?
Yes.  I loved living at N Street (while I was 23-25) for many of the same
reasons other people did: the community meals, the friendships.  In
particular, I loved it because I got a chance to have interactions with
children, who were often closer to my age than their parents.  Among the
middle-class, post-college folks don't often get that opportunity.  They
often become parents with little prior experience of children except of
their own childhood. That is bad.  Cohousing, by contrast, is good (how's
that for a syllogism).  

I don't think I was particularly unusual in my appreciation for the
cohousing experience as a 23-25 year-old.  During that time, I described my
living situation to many college friends and they said it sounded heavenly.
It was.

3. Can Students & Post-College Folks Live in Cohousing?
Ah, here's the rub.  Too many (IMHO) cohousing developments have little or
no rental space and no apparent desire to make rooms available for those who
cannot afford large down-payments or a mortgage on a whole house.  This
applies for low-income potential residents, it applies to students and
post-college folks as well.

My suggestion: include rental units in cohousing communities. Rental doesn't
mean you have to lose money, nor does it turn you into a slumlord.  My
landlord (an absentee, I might add) made a profit on me. N Street had a
Common House Management Team that, among other duties, managed relations
with the common house residents.  There's little reason other communities
couldn't do the same.  

I know its hard to build in rentals in build-it-from-scratch communities,
but you can try.  

Or, even better, try doing something similar to the N Street model!

the latest of my missives from wouldn't-it-be-nice land,

Jeff Hobson
   who would like to be living in cohousing, 
      especially an organic development in a West Berkeley neighborhood

*            Jeff Hobson        *     jhobson [at]               *
*  2139 Prince St  *  Berkeley CA 94705  *  510-845-0481 phone/fax  *

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