Re: Seattle group seeks property for co-housing
From: Craig Ragland (
Date: Thu, 24 May 2007 09:21:20 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Jordan

Are you sure you're intending to create a cohousing community? Or is that a
label you've selected to make your quest more palatable?

This page from the Coho/US website has the "classic" six criteria:

Are you looking to create on a neighborhood level? From your description, it
sounds like there may be some active shared economy? Possibly, a better
description of the shared housing you seek is a large Cooperative Household?
A Collective?

Our community, Songaia Cohousing (near Seattle) operated as two shared
households (next door to each other) for almost 10 years while we built the
resources, plans, and community to construct a 13 unit cohousing community
(on our 10.6 acres). For the last few years that we spent as a shared
household, we stopped renting to people who were not committed to the
cohousing project and we set up four "virtual private apartments" within the
two houses. We had extensive common spaces, including most of what is now
our common house. The apartments were not physically separated by doors, but
by our practices/norms... for example, other community members would call
out before coming down the hallway that defined my family's space (3 small
bedrooms, 2 baths & a T-shaped hallway). Sure, we could have installed an
extra door, but that would have been wasted effort as we focused on the new
homes we ultimately built on the property.

Today, there are dozens of cooperative households in Seattle. Some rent and
some own their houses and other dwellings where they have created their
communities. Most of these communities are in the exact neighborhoods that
you list as being the most desirable for your group.

A number of these communities have extensive inter-connections. Some have
existed for many years. I believe your best path to finding a suitable
property is by networking with these folks... on occasion, some of these
communities have "lost" their houses - their landlords have sold the houses
out from under them. In a few cases, the households have moved to other
buildings. In some cases, these communities have occupied more than one
adjoining house, as they've expanded.

Here are the FIC Directory listings for several communities (mostly in the
Seattle neighborhoods you mention) which currently occupy buildings similar
to what you seek:

I've visited all of these and there are really savvy folks living in them,
many of whom might help you network to achieve what you seek.

I really don't understand why you think you are "asking for too much," Or
that there is any real possibility "it will never happen." This type of
messaging may not be the best approach as you reach out to prospective
sellers, even when you state that you are "pre-financed."

Similarly, your website reference to yourself as "crazy hippie kids" - which
doesn't inspire confidence.

There are many properties which would seem to meet your criteria on the open
market in Seattle. Here's a simple search for Seattle properties with 5+
bedrooms and 4+ bathrooms in Seattle:

It lists 159 properties ranging from a $274K 2-unit property to a $15.5M
mansion on 3/4 acre. I have no doubt that this list includes several
properties in the neighborhoods you desire. Have you explored this
conventional path?

Is part of your (unstated) criteria that the property must be selling for a
price that is significantly below its market value? Or that the seller must
be willing to owner-finance under atypical terms?

Anyway, here's some info on digital resources which may be of use to you:

This Cohousing Listserv has relatively few of us in the Seattle area and
many hundreds that are scattered all over the world. There are other local,
online resources which might be more helpful to you in your quest:

NICA (Northwest Intentional Communities Assocation)
has been helping people interested in community and communities for years.
It's annual summer gathering in late June is at a property owned by the
Goodenough Community, which tried and failed to build a larger complex
similar to what you described. You might consider attending to network with
others of us who are most active in the local communities movement.

NWCommunities listserv
currently has 199 subscribers who are mostly in the NW and are interested in
a broader swath of community than just cohousing.

Seattle Wiki on Seattle Coop Houses:
has more info of potential use.

I wish you well in your quest...

Craig Ragland
Member: Songaia Cohousing, Fellowship for Intentional Community
Board Member: Coho/US


Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 22:07:12 -0700
From: "Jordan Schwartz" <coho [at]>
Subject: [C-L]_ Seattle group seeks property for co-housing

We've got the people, we've got the financing, we've got the agreements,
we've got the will...we're missing the right property. :(
A group of us have been looking to buy an apartment building or large
multi-family house to set up a co-housing home,. If you don't have what
we're looking for but know someone who might, please forward this to them. I
put up a web page that explains our quest in more detail at Please forward!

Do you have a roughly 6,000+ sqft large house, multiplex or apartment
building in Seattle you would consider selling? Group of eight+ looking for
a home. We're pre-financed.

We are a close group of friends who have worked together, traveled together,
camped together, painted together, built together and lived together, and
now we're ready to settle down together. There's one child in our group so
far, and many aunts and uncles. Our family wants a place to call home. Will
you sell it to us?

I know what you're thinking. You're asking for too much, it will never
happen. And maybe you're right. But my mother taught me that you're much
more likely to get what you want if you ask. So let me tell you exactly what
we're looking for.

- In Seattle, ideally in the Capitol Hill, Central District, North Beacon,
Wallingford, Ravenna, University District neighborhoods.
- 6,000+ square feet (or expandable to that size). We want common space,
private space, work space, art space, storage space.
- Ideally, subdividable into 5 or more separate units, but with a large
common space. We're ready to do some remodeling.
- A yard for a vegetable garden and for kids to go dig up worms and build
tree houses and pick dandelions.

It's a lot to ask for, I know. If you have something that sort of resembles
what we want, go ahead and contact us at coho [at]! Maybe we can
make it work.



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