Affordability, doability
From: Jane O'Brien (
Date: Mon, 19 May 2008 18:38:15 -0700 (PDT)
> various options like being willing to live in an area of the country 
> where prices for land and construction are cheaper.

I took this suggestion and combined it with an idea from Sharon Villines: that 
people in condos and other situations are looking for an old-fashioned 
neighborhood experience and that it might be easier or more possible to creste 
that than to find/build cohousing for oneself.

I moved about two years ago, luckily at the height of the real estate boom, 
from Washington, DC to Cincinnati, OH.  At the time the cost of living here was 
42% less than DC; it's now "only" 34% less. I found a small 1925 cottage on a 
tiny street with just 9 houses, and (more luck!) found two folks on the street 
also interested in building a "neighborhood" feel.  

It's affordable: the cottages run less than 1000 sq. feet (several folks still 
raising families in them) and the average price is about $70K.  It's diverse:  
college professors, shift workers, and the unemployed living side by side.  And 
diverse in ways that I find very challenging:  several of my neighbors have 
never registered to vote "because they are all crooks in Washington"; some are 
vocal racists; some seem on the edge of neglecting their young children, and 
there is discreet illegal drug use. Sometimes it is a challenge to reach for 
common values, to say the least.

I was a pretty typical condo dweller, living ten years in a building where I 
scarcely knew my neighbors.  Now I share a rich street life where we sit on our 
porches on warm nights, trade plants, share lawn mowers and crockpots, etc.  It 
is hard to build community anywhere, but the geography here helps:  the street 
is so small it is almost a pedestrian street (only the nine families who live 
here drive down the street, plus the occasional delivery truck). The houses are 
very close to one another (about 10 feet between them) so you wave to your 
neighbor in your facing kitchen windows when both of you are making supper.  
But there are no shared walls, so it's easier to shut out neighbor noise; 
everyone has a small yard and parking in front of their house; everyone tends 
to look out for the children and animals of those who live here. 

It's a great solution for me. Might not have worked well earlier in my life, 
and I know the circumstances have to conspire for people to be able to move 
long distance.  

But like Ann and Sharon I would encourage everyone to think creatively.  I love 
my life here.  And I owe a great deal  of it to Ann, who told me about a woman 
at her cohousing community who moved to Yellow Springs, OH because it was more 
affordable, and to Sharon, who wrote a short-lived newsletter for folks trying 
to make their own living situations more like cohousing.  Thanks, you two, and 
good luck to all who populate this list with great ideas, suggestions, and who 
searching for a more livable lifestyle.

Jane O'Brien
Cincinnati, OH

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