Summarizing - Affordability and Living Cheaper in Coho
From: Mariana Almeida (
Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2013 16:53:09 -0800 (PST)
Thanks all, for a great discussion. I appreciate the subtleties that were 
expressed in so many posts. 

At the risk of reopening the discussion, I want to venture a "rough" summary 
for anyone who is not inclined to read the blow-by-blow. 

Housing construction - old and new:
        * New construction cohousing costs the same as new construction custom 
housing in the same area, of similar quality.

        * Self-development is risky and may not actually save any money. 
        * Retrofit cohousing costs less than new construction, in the same area.

        * The cheapest cohousing may be where land for housing is the cheapest. 

Ways to make new construction more affordable:

        * Bring in third party money (govt programs) that are available to make 
new construction more affordable.

        * Existing programs that do this already for regular constructions may 
be used for cohousing depending on area (viz Boulder)
        * Buyers of some units may choose to subsidize the cost of units for 

        * Making your units more standard and less custom helps keep costs down.

Current focus: 
        * Cohousing Network is interested in developing opportunities for more 
affordable cohousing using the "money from a third party model". (I think 
that's correct -- please speak up, if not.) 

Does living in cohousing make day-to-day life cheaper?
        * Yes, if you have the inclination, organizational resources and 
perhaps extra space to enable sharing of discretionary purchases (bulk food, 
car, equipment). Some of the basics of life such health, mortgage, education 
can't be shared, so there's no savings there. 

Intagibles and speculation

        * In cohousing you have closer ties to neighbors which research shows 
may have a protective health effect. You may live a longer, healthier life 
filled with more people.
        * In disaster situations, you're more likely to fare well.
        * You may venture out less to seek social company, so you may use your 
car less (= savings).
How's that? Did I miss anything major? 

Yours in brevity, 
Mariana Almeida
Berkeley Cohousing, Calif.

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