Re: How to develop a group for 50+ without family, plus affordability
From: Stuart Joseph (
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 09:43:24 -0700 (PDT)

Ruthpoet [at] wrote:
I'm new to the list, but was interested by this topic. My partner and I are 47 and 45, no kids. So the host of new elder-cohousing projects happening out there are probably 15 years premature for us, but the majority of other co-housing seems to be focused on raising kids, which also doesn't fit for us. Seems to me the childless 40s and 50s group is a whole 'nother demographic...
Caer Coburn has childless couples and others with grown kids, grandchildren, and teenagers.
We are fine with living with younger folks and older folks too, of course, but I'm talking about how the community is designed. (Also, we are lesbians, and a lot of communities seem to be designed with a very hetero focus, though "open to" others. Then there are the communities that are exclusively LGBT. We'd prefer more like a half and half mix. Anyone else like us out there?)
We don't care about your sexual orientation, the important thing is that you are happy.
I'm wondering though, Marganne, why the aversion to having a mortgage? Not expecting an answer - your way of managing money is your own business - but it struck me as interesting. To me, having a monthly mortgage payment would actually seem preferable to tying up all my cash. I guess there are different ways to think about affordability. Personally, since I don't have kids, I am happy to die with a great big unpaid mortgage! Why not? If my mortgage were paid off, or I were mortgageless, it would only mean a big asset that needed to go to someone... and there is no one I feel that highly motivated to bequeath it to. So my own definition of affordable seems to be quite different from Marganne's.
The definition of affordable varies from person to person and location to location.
It's more like: if I can find a way to get in (i.e. can come up with sufficient down payment - which is probably not a problem) and can manage the monthly payments, it works for me. I even like the creative ways to keep monthly payments lower - like the negative-amortization mortgages, where the payments are kept artificially low and the balance actually gets larger rather than smaller - though those only work for a limited period, of course, and I don't know whether these are available for co-housing or not (though I would think they would be - since you can use them for condos.) There is a book called "Die Broke," by a NYC financial advisor, who advocates this approach, so I'm not totally alone... (though I was living this way before I ever heard of his book.)
You make some interesting points. I will have to check out the book. Veda and I really don't want a mortgage because if our income changes, we might not want to risk losing our house. we also want to keep down our expenses like utilities, which is one of the reasons that we got involved in Caer Coburn in the first place.

I would like to invite you and your partner to come visit us. Our next property tour is July 15, 2007, followed by a pot luck lunch, social time, and a meeting. If that won't work for you, please contact me and we can arrange something else.

I don't know where you live in MA, but we are in Southeastern VT about 30 miles from the MA border.

In the meantime, check out our web site: to find out about the project, see the designs for the village and property, and the bios of our members.

I hope to meet you someday.
Ruth, in Massachusetts (but formerly from California - and I wish it weren't so expensive out there!)

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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