Re: Affordable Cohousing
From: Jerome Garciano (
Date: Tue, 29 Sep 2009 06:50:00 -0700 (PDT)
Assuming residents need to work in order to have income to pay the
mortgage/rent, affordability also needs to consider the average income
potential of the area for a family or individual (typically termed the "area
median income").  Affordability would be measured then based on a
reasonable share of a family's income (typically 25-35%) used to pay the
mortgage/rent.  So lower construction costs, like those described below,
will achieve lower mortgage/rent amounts, allowing families at a lower
income to pay a reasonable share of their income for housing.  The lower
operating/living costs, also described below, would affect the percentage of
income paid that one would consider to be affordable, and probably also
reflects the area median income.

On Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 7:50 AM, David Hornick <davidhornickmd [at]>wrote:

> I realize that everyone appreciates that 'affordability' relates to more
> than the cost of materials, architectural services and labor, but I thought
> I'd make a few explicit statements regarding the matter.
> Cost of Construction:  Depends greatly upon location.  A home that must be
> able to provide a comfortable living environment in the climatic extremes
> of
> the northern US, must cost much more than a home built in  a more temperate
> climate such as San Diego where insulation, heating and cooling systems and
> landscaping elements are vastly different.    Cohousing that is built in
> certain parts of Mexico, requires no insulation and no (or minimal) systems
> for heating and cooling.  These areas have year-round temperatures ranging
> between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  Also, labor costs are so much lower
> in Mexico that the finished cost of a typical home is about $50 per square
> foot (without sweat equity).
> Cost of Living:  Depends upon cost for food and energy, taxes, insurance,
> healthcare  and, as people age and become functionally and cognitively
> frail, the cost of hands-on care.
> Energy costs:  In Oaxaca, Mexico, there are over 300 days per year with
> sunshine (less than 60 cloudy days per year) and there is little variation
> in the amount of daylight throughout the year (12-13 hours per day).
> Solar-generated electricity makes a great deal of sense and markedly
> reduces
> the cost of living compared to northern climates where larger, much more
> costly solar systems must be deployed for similar energy generation.
> Food costs:  In Oaxaca, Mexico,  food costs in the local supermarket and
> numerous farmer's markets are about half those in the United States. Most
> food is grown locally.
> Personal care:  Typically, in the the US this care costs about $20 per hour
> (over $3000 per week for 24 hour care in a person's home).  In Mexico, the
> same care can be provided for $300 per week.
> Housekeeping and yardwork / gardening assistance:  The usual rate of pay is
> about $$2.50 to $3.00 per hour.
> Property taxes:  Usually substantially less that $500 per year for a 2000
> square foot home.
> Insurance:  Less than half the cost of the US.
> Healthcare:  National health insurance for expatriots is less than $1500
> per
> year.
> The cost of a 1000 square foot home built in Oaxaca Mexico costs about
> $50,000 to $100,000 (depending upon the cost for furnishings).  Average
> daily cost of living is about $20 per day.
> These figures are based upon my best efforts to collect information talking
> with knowledgeable North Americans living in Mexico (estimated to be more
> than 1 million Americans, alone).
> Crime in Mexico (because I know the subject will come up)?  Probably a lot
> less than crime in many US and Canadian cities  (see article:
> David Hornick
> Mexicommunity Intentional Community Project
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