Re: Regarding Affordability in Cohousing
From: Virgil Huston (
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2016 16:27:42 -0700 (PDT)
I like this idea. I have the grand visions of a multigenerational
community that has young families all the way to hospice and
everything in between, where elders are valued and may be productive
as long as possible, as well as being taken care of when that time
comes. Helping with children while the young adults help with sick and
infirm, for example. Being teachers in homeschool situations (or after
school) while parent(s) work, like a hamlet in old Europe (these were
more extended families I guess). You can buy entire villages in Spain
and hamlets all over Europe. I don't think this is really cohousing as
I understand it. It has many aspects of commune, but each unit has its
own living space. I see much more required working and eating and
hanging out together. Including even enterprises on the place where
members make a living. This could also make it affordable. Not sure
what this model might be. I have followed this list a long time and I
see cohousing as more of a gated community country club style thing
than a "real" community. I do not mean to offend by this, different
strokes for different folks, and I might be misunderstanding. I liked
a shared interest concept, too. I am an old(er) hippie and my wife and
I are pretty isolated. I would love a place to live where it would be
cool to get together to couchsurf a Dead and Company show, have a
small stage where people can jam, etc. There are many variations of
the special interest thing.

On Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 11:35 AM, Lynne Markell <lmarkell [at]> 
> Good advice.  Form the group first and learn how to work together. If you 
> decide to form a co-op, you might be able to get more help as co-operatives 
> helping co-operatives is one the main principles.
> Don't be the "owner", instead be the "organizer" or the instigator.
> If you find that there is not enough interest or skill to have the residents 
> manage  the housing, think about other organizations that could partner with 
> you to make it happen.
> Good luck.
> Lynne Markell,
> Lmarkell [at]
> (613) 842-5222
>> On Aug 23, 2016, at 9:45 AM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at] 
>>> wrote:
>>> On Aug 22, 2016, at 9:49 AM, Gayle Alston <galston1954 [at]> 
>>> wrote:
>>> This idea around affordability is very near to my heart.  I have hopes of
>>> converting a 1960's cement block motel into a solo senior cohousing
>>> property in a small (pop 150) town in rural south Georgia.  My thinking is
>>> that each person will have a room that is rehabbed with a murphy bed,
>>> living area, frig/micro/toaster.  Common area will include a home theater
>>> and cafe and 35 acres of wooded area with a fairly extensive raised bed
>>> gardening operation.
>> This sounds very nice. Check with senior cohousing communities about what 
>> you will need in the long run.
>>> I am also considering opening up the front section of
>>> my nearby (100 yds) home for common area so people can use the kitchen,
>>> dining room, and den.
>> This is the only thing that makes me pause. Some communities with members 
>> who have a different living situation have difficulties with supposed power 
>> and privilege issues. And it does make it different for you. You could feel 
>> out of things and be treated like “the owner” even when you are not.
>> Avoid being the sole developer. Form a group as soon as possible so you 
>> aren’t the only founder.
>>> I would like to make it available to seniors like me... who are happily
>>> solo but may not have planned so well for retirement so have limited
>>> monthly incomes.
>> I repeat, make your cost parameters clear from the outset. Construction 
>> costs escalate very easily. The list of people who have found themselves 
>> priced out of cohousing after working with a group for months and years is 
>> long.
>>> I would like to intentionally recruit members who will
>>> bring different skills for the ongoing development of the property for the
>>> good of all.
>> Skills are important. That is your human capital. But it has to be done 
>> carefully so as not to intimidate prospective cohousers.
>> After we moved in, I realized how much the skills of the individuals who 
>> live here makes a difference in how the community develops. We have from the 
>> beginning, for example, lacked a person who could manage the kitchen. It 
>> requires both organizational and people skills. While we have a large 
>> workshop, we are lacking a person who works there often and will also manage 
>> the tools and clean up. Set some expectations and remind people to pay 
>> attention to them.
>> Sharon
>> ----
>> Sharon Villines
>> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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