support groups / designing frugal & urban cohousing?
From: Naomi Anderegg (
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2010 16:13:43 -0800 (PST)
Hm . . it seems to me like part of this is designing your cohousing community 
be well within all your members' budgets from the get-go, so that you as 
individuals and as a group have a healthy financial cushion to rely on as 
needed. For example, I could probably buy a $120,000 house (or a $200,000 house 
if I was willing to sell my soul), but I'm really interested in doing urban 
retrofit, which I think could realistically be done for $60K - $70K per 
household and in a way that it would be very unlikely that you’d lose money on 
your investment. (This would allow me to save more each year and retire 
younger--I'm under 30 so I've got a while to go any way you look at it.) 
way would be to make sure that you designed your community in a way that it 
would increase in value and that renting a studio apartment within the 
was an option—so that if nothing else members would at least have a solid 
financial investment by belonging to the community and could sell out and move 
to a smaller space without leaving the community. 

I've got a neighborhood in mind where houses routinely go for $20K - $60K each, 
but there are really several neighborhoods like this in Birmingham (AL--not 
where I live. My thoughts are that if you could get a group together then they 
could buy up most of a block, inviting current residents to join, pay an extra 
$5K towards the group budget, buy an extra house to use as the common house 
there's enough money for it, combine adjacent back yards to create common 
etc, for way less than what a lot of cohousing is costing. In Birmingham (and 
probably a lot of other urban areas), most houses cost less than they would 
to build, so from my perspective buying & retrofitting existing housing would 
the most financially responsible decision, in addition to being environmentally 
responsible. (Reuse and all that--avoiding new building is better than all but 
the very best building practices.) Our neighborhoods are also often scattered 
with vacant lots--lots that it just doesn't make sense to build on right now. 
These could be bought by the cohousing development and preserved for extra 
for playgrounds or gardening or natural habitat or extra outdoor living space.
I also think that cohousers moving into "iffy neighborhoods" makes financial 
sense from an investment standpoint. A cohousing community would likely "bring 
the neighborhood up", increasing real estate values near the cohousing 
and in the cohousing community in addition to improving the perception of the 
area. And even in a neighborhood with relatively high crime levels, I think 
houses in a cohousing block would be a horrible target for crime--because part 
of cohousing is knowing your neighbors well enough that you also know who 
and shouldn't be going into their houses/cars. Honestly, I think that it could 
spark neighborhood revitalization in a way that several individual families 
moving into a neighborhood just couldn't. (I don't suspect that cohousing 
adjacent to suburban subdivisions or rural properties would have the same 
though--are there any stats available on this?) 

I’m really interested on hearing any thoughts anyone has on this—has the idea 
using cohousing as a means of improving a neighborhood or city come up 
Has it been successful? What about the idea of being involved in cohousing as a 
way to lower the cost of housing—by building community somewhere cheap instead 
of attempting to buy community somewhere expensive?
Naomi Anderegg

From: "rhmorrison [at]" <rhmorrison [at]>
To: cohousing-l [at]
Sent: Sat, December 18, 2010 9:32:57 AM
Subject: [C-L]_ Support groups in cohousing for people who are out of work

   Sylvie Kashdan at Jackson Place Cohousing wrote:
We have a few members who are in their early sixties and have been laid off 
good paying white-collar jobs. [snip]  Here at Jackson Place Cohousing we are 
discussing how we as a commmunity can develop a support system to help 
who need to retire [before they otherwise would] and/or become disabled in some 
way, so they won't have to leave our community because of either financial or 
support or health care reasons. We would appreciate learning about how other 
established communities are dealing with this. [end quote]
  Thanks for raising this issue. There are a lot of people who are in this 
situation. Will this support system include helping people who are physically 
able to hold a paying job and would like to find a job to find one? 

Bob Morrison
Mosaic Commons Cohousing
Berlin, MA

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