From: Alex Kent (
Date: Sat, 25 Jul 2009 07:22:54 -0700 (PDT)
Does anyone have experience with mini-cohousing?  


The idea here is to put together a group of, say, 3 families (with or
without children), purchase either a larger house and subdivide it into
individual units and common areas (e.g., kitchen, living room, workshop,
etc.), OR buy a small multifamily house and create common spaces within it
while preserving the discrete nature of the original individual apartments.


The goals of this arrangement would be to create a small community or
extended family and to reduce the often crushing economic burden associated
with home ownership.


Obviously, the most challenging aspect of this scheme would to put together
the right mix of people, what my friend Lou calls "grown-ups."  In a larger
cohousing community, not everyone has to be friends with everyone else as
long as people can remain civil to one another.  But if everyone lives under
the same roof, bonds have to be tighter and the willingness to balance
individual imperatives against the needs of the group has to be more highly
developed.  People would really have to like each other.


Then there are the financial and contractual aspects of co-ownership of a
single piece of real estate.  How would a lender look at group ownership of
real estate?


>From what I can tell, the problem with what has rapidly become the norm for
cohousing in the US is that it is a movement for the upper middle class.
Cohousing is not cheap.  It may be a more attractive and "sustainable"
approach to development and housing, but it still takes a lot of money,
especially for people like me.  I am certainly not poor, but neither am I
wealthy enough to be able to afford a house in many of the established or
forming cohousing communities with much ease.  And I am simply weary of
being a slave to a mortgage and other dwelling-related expenses.


Moreover, I like living where I live now, a college town in Western
Massachusetts, a place rich in cultural, educational, and natural resources.
I would be loathe to leave this area, but once again, these things do not
come cheaply.  Co-ownership seems like a good way to defray the costs.


Thoughts?  Anyone interested in continuing the conversation off-line? 


Alex Kent

83 North Prospect Street

Amherst, MA 01002  USA



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