Re: How to develop a group for 50+ without family
From: Stuart Joseph (
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 09:28:41 -0700 (PDT)

Marganne wrote:
At 5:10 PM -0600 9/1/05, Rick Mockler wrote:
I was really excited about the prospect of connecting up with like-minded cohousers and joining a project. Then I started considering things like: Will I like living in Vermont or Ithaca? I was born and raised in California. At age 20 or 30 I probably could have made the jump easily. But at age 50+ with some physical restrictions, I'm less likely to make the leap before looking.
The newest member of Caer Coburn ran into the same choice, he has lived in CA all of his life and wasn't sure that he wanted to change (he's 50+) and finally he decided that living at Caer Coburn fit exactly what he was looking for the property features, , he could build the type of house he wanted (a small First Day Cottage), pay for it all since it was affordable, and he liked our members, who range from the 40's-60's.

It is a tough decision and it is something that you will have to decide.

When Veda and I got together, she wanted to move back here to VT. I wasn't so sure that I wanted to leave Long Island as my family and friends were there. One of the techniques that helped me decide was to make lists of the Pros and Cons of moving to VT. Veda and I put down everything we could think of in each column and in the end the Pros outweighed the Cons. Of course, some things might be more important than others, affordability, rural vs. city are some examples.
I decided I needed to slow down and perhaps live in some vastly different geographical areas in a rental before committing to a project if I could find 'like minded' individuals.
We are toying with the idea of restoring our 3rd floor apartment and renting it out, so if you want to live in our area for awhile, we could talk about it.
All of this prospect still overwhelms me which is why I pulled back from keeping up with posts to this list and the small house listserv. There's no way I could 'spearhead' formation of a group -- my capacity to function at that level went bye bye about 5 years ago.

Caer Coburn is formed, but we are still creating the rules, etc. It does take a lot of work to get a group started and working through all of the design, permits, and processes to make it happen. I will admit that I had no idea what it would entail when I first got involved with starting Caer Coburn. <grin>
I find myself wanting to start a separate 'conversation' just for people like me -- single, approaching the Third Age (50+) but still kicking, with little or no family who would like to create something were we all could age in place. We wouldn't be ready for ElderShire yet.
That is something that we are planning for. It will be nice to have friends around as we get older and the sense of community will help with tasks.

The other possibility that has come up with the group and the land owner (Caer Coburn will be taken out of the owner's 800 acre parcel( is to build an assisted living facility on another part of his property as well. it has been mentioned a few times, but right now, we are concentrating on getting Caer Coburn through the permitting process so we can start building.

Hope this all makes sense. Originally I was disappointed with the cohousing experience because the definition of 'affordable' wasn't affordable for me. I don't plan on going into debt with a mortgage and wouldn't qualify for one anyway due to my limited income. I could afford to build something smaller than 1,000 square feet - pay for it outright.
Affordable is in the size of the person's wallet, as well as other factors, like location, acreage, development costs, design costs, permit fees, consultants, etc. It can be pretty overwhelming and expensive, though location also plays a part in these costs too. I am sure that hiring an engineer in NY or CA will be a lot more expensive that here in VT.

There are some things that we can't control the cost of like engineers, hydrologists, surveyors, archaeological studies, and wetland delineators. We can control some costs like bidding out the road construction, and our individual houses, which is why we are letting folks design and build their own with some limitations, mostly maximum size. Our members all want smaller, energy efficient homes, that will cost less to run, build and maintain.
I'm open to suggestions about how those of us who fit this demographic (or close to it) can connect to figure out how to modify the standard cohousing model to meet the needs of the 50+ boomers without kids. Or maybe I'm missing another way of looking at what I'd like to create for myself as I get older.
Some of our members do have teenagers, adult children, and young grandchildren and some of us don't have any kids at all. I do like the idea of having kids around, however, we seem to be attracting folks without kids or older kids.

Stuart Joseph, 802-463-1954
Project Director
Caer Coburn, a traditional village based upon cohousing  and intentional 
communities in
Rockingham, Vermont, USA
Mail to:
36 Front St.
Bellows Falls, VT 05101 USA

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