thread on cohousing pioneers
From: Susan Coberly (
Date: Fri, 27 Dec 2013 09:46:21 -0800 (PST)
All ~

Our cohousing community pioneers began meeting in fall 2004 and in
September 2008 - a very short 4 years later! - began moving in to our
beautiful community here in Fresno California. You may recall fall 2008 was
not a good time to try to buy a home.  Those who did, including me, were
committed to cohousing with the community of people with whom we had
dreamed and planned. Many - although committed - had to drop out since they
were unable to sell their then-current homes, or rent them, waiting for the
market to recover. Other committed cohousers since have come.  The price of
homes here is staggeringly lower. Families / households are still making
the choice to buy here, including long-established renters.

We intentionally designed and built an inter-generational community. I love
having the young people and children and babies around me.  The other day,
Max, age 2.5, looked back at me, while being carried by his father Adam,
down the sidewalk to the common meal, and said "I love you Susan." That
feeling is so absolutely mutual.

Personally I retired at age 66.5 in Dec 2012. Unfortunately, I
currently have no equity in my home!  And I agree that as we age in place
here, it may be difficult to keep the work done...although we are adding
young families now as the prices are down.

While I sometimes say "if ever I was to move it would be to another
cohousing community," what keeps me here is the community of people with
whom I live.

So while I applaud [Gary Storm's] Lake of the Ozarks effort, I would be
hard pressed on the financial and the emotional level to leave here to
pioneer a new cohousing community.

That said, I believe I read - probably on this list - that cohousers
include those who love to build community and those who love to stay.  So
there are probably some experienced cohousers out there who have equity in
their homes, want the adventure of building another community [it truly is
an adventure!], and who will look into taking Gary up on his request.

I echo Sharon's advice to tell prospective folks the housing and lot
prices, tax structure, food prices, etc.  in the area. You could do the
housing prices by inserting links to active realtors with on line listings
onto your website as a convenience to viewers.  Perhaps your tax assessor
has an on line service for property taxes.

Also it would be helpful to say *where* other cohousing communities are.
Are any near Lake of the Ozarks? If not, how far away? It is hard to market
cohousing where no one knows what you are talking about, in a conservative
area. (Voice of Fresno California experience...)  Also consider what types
of marketing help your company would make available to the cohousing
pioneers - meeting space, advertising, copy machine time, etc. It is
expensive starting a a new community.

Additionally, although there are other communities out there who've done it
/ are doing it [Port Townsend, WA? - some in the Northeast?] I echo the
statement (Sharon) that lot development as shown on your plan is not as
conducive to cohousing community feeling as would be a more clustered
model, and, certainly, multi family buildings are.

(As I type this I am listening to a "bump bump bump" sound, someone
taking one of the community wagons down the central sidewalk to their home,
probably to cart recycling and trash to the community enclosure...if I
stood up to look out the kitchen window or the front door, I'd see the
person! O yes, it is Chris S.)

However, clustered, and possibly multi-family dwellings may not be an easy
sell in Lake of the Woods.  (Was hard here, in the land of the single
family home...) If so, try clustered lot line on one side,
perhaps. depends on your jurisdiction - maybe a planned unit development.
The single lot model obviously can work, just not my experience. We have
duplexes and 6 plexes, 28 units on net 2.8 acres.

Just some thoughts.

Best of luck!

Susan Coberly
La Querencia aka Fresno Cohousing
(central San Joaquin Valley, close to Yosemite and Kings Canyon/Sequoia
National Parks.)

susandgeorge [at]

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