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Old 07-21-2009, 12:04 PM
 
Location: DC Area, for now
3,517 posts, read 8,764,903 times
Reputation: 2011

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConeyIsBabe View Post
This is similar to what I did (for 30+ years) as a frugal, working, single-mom, living in one of the most prestigious communities in Miami.

A homeowner who is in a position of needing $$ to enhance income might consider renting out part of the house by dividing it into a separate unit. All you need is one or two rooms, a bathroom, and a door to the outside; any connecting doors to your living space would be LOCKED!. Then consider renting out the furnished unit to a single, quiet individual. Also, a small 'fridge and microwave oven would be an asset to the renter. Total privacy for everyone and extra $$ for the homeowner to help maintain the property
A workable approach at some upfront expense. The zoning laws also have to allow it. Unfortunately, many places outlawed such subdivisions to the point of destroying any low cost abodes like that and adding to the working homeless population. Such apartments were common before the 1980s in s lot of places. Or separate basement apartments were made. The attempts to upscale places and make them more exclusive drove many places to outlaw it.
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Old 07-21-2009, 12:19 PM
 
Location: zippidy doo dah
579 posts, read 647,907 times
Reputation: 812
Default rethinking the american dream

i am starting to feel like the bad guys in Dr Zhivago when Yuri comes back from military service and the commies have divided up the palatial estate,saying it was room enough for 9 families - Yuri observes wryly that it truly is more fair. Obviously, that is a lowering of everyone's standard to misery and would get me labeled a radical if i so advocated such an action but like newengland girl noted, i am wondering about the whole solo/nuclear family particularly of one home ownership issue. Everyone having their own little island has not promoted a real healthy lifestyle for most of us and particularly as we age, and even more so, if we are aging alone.

I too, like others have noted, have shared my home many times over the years; often simply hospitality or a waystop for someone in relocation but other times it provided extra income and a great place for the other person to live. It was not unusual to me at all although I had never experienced that growing up (the having a "boarder" in the house.) Now, as I've grown older, seen some of the instability in life that can come from living arrangements/jobs/relationships etc suddenly up-ending, the "strength in numbers" concept becomes more and more appealing. An income that is barely survivable for one becomes better with two - more so with three - and maybe even four - it's not quite the same as roommates like we had in school or early years -cringe - that doesn't sound real appealing but it is housemates - people joining their resources , physical, financial and the like, to make life better for ourselves and those who share in it.

I mentioned before the Ladies of Covington series and I'll bring that up again. When I started exploring co-housing, community and other ideas, these books were brought up again and again. I finally read the first this spring and it is an excellent segue into this conversation with people. It is just a somewhat realistic portrayal of how one might do such a thing. It might be "fun" to read these books together and talk about the concept. I know I am on the brink of real changes in my life - most are happening in my attitude and spirit and it's scary and exciting at the same time. We are living in such strange times - to steal from doctor seuss, one can no longer easily figure out who are the star-bellied sneetches and who are not - and maybe it's because ultimately we all need to just see each other as sneetches with or without stars.

Exploring co-housing made me wonder if close community is possible or if it just settles into either a condo or a commune - In a lot of the co-housing circles i looked at , there appeared to be such an adherence to a certain philosophy or mindthink or whatever - nothing wrong with being committed to something - it's very good to have a strong sense of what you believe, but what i liked with the covington book portrayals of common living was that each lady was so different and the exploration became one of living with differences/ups and downs/etc - a marriage of convenience of sorts with the acceptance that everyone is unique and special in their own way without demanding conformity on everything from dietary likes and like nots to what time in the morning or night one goes to bed.

what are we willing to give up of what we always assumed life would look like in the second half in order to assure it is better than we could have conceived? i'm totally questioning the paradigm that I had always assumed would be true and the great thing is it isn't scary anymore. It's exciting - suspenseful - an adventure in the offing. The process alone is enough to make me practically wet my pants (were i the pant-wetting type which fortunately does not seem to be the case but i'm sure there will come a time when it will be a little more of an issue and that's ok too.................i'll cross that bridge when i come to it )
tricia !

Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
Well yes, such is the case with all of us in limited circumstances (and most are these days, I think). Honestly, I'm now wondering about the whole home ownership thing for a single person, seems like the actual costs cannot be borne anymore, not linked with real incomes. There has GOT to be a way to share resources/utilities. What a waste for one person to bear, even in better times. The challenge is, how to design a situation in which utilities and resources are shared but other aspects of living can remain private. How about a common house with kitchenette areas, electricity for appliances and lights, and then private cottages with little wood stoves and no electricity for a quiet life in tune with nature? I'd move to such a place in a minute, if not too remote....
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Old 07-21-2009, 12:43 PM
 
Location: SW US
843 posts, read 642,660 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by triciajeanne View Post

I mentioned before the Ladies of Covington series and I'll bring that up again. When I started exploring co-housing, community and other ideas, these books were brought up again and again. I finally read the first this spring and it is an excellent segue into this conversation with people. It is just a somewhat realistic portrayal of how one might do such a thing. It might be "fun" to read these books together and talk about the concept.
I just finished reading the first one. I probably will read some more, as they are good light summer reading, but our library doesn't have all of them, 2nd one is missing, and I don't want to buy them.
One thing that annoyed me about the first book is that men are always stepping in to "save" the women.
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Old 07-21-2009, 03:18 PM
 
Location: New England
12,393 posts, read 8,638,277 times
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I'm thinking more of a designed community in which you could live off the grid but close by (a central community house) where regular things like electric appliances, TV, toilet/bathroom, cooking facilities (esp in larger amounts) could be offered. Everyone would split the cost of utilities in the community house, and pay their share of property taxes and keep up their own little separate house/cottage that has a woodstove and a few oil lamps and an indoor composting toilet. Do as much or as little as we want in our own place, and have all the conveniences in the central part. Idealistic, I know, I know....
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Old 07-21-2009, 03:53 PM
 
Location: DC Area, for now
3,517 posts, read 8,764,903 times
Reputation: 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
I'm thinking more of a designed community in which you could live off the grid but close by (a central community house) where regular things like electric appliances, TV, toilet/bathroom, cooking facilities (esp in larger amounts) could be offered. Everyone would split the cost of utilities in the community house, and pay their share of property taxes and keep up their own little separate house/cottage that has a woodstove and a few oil lamps and an indoor composting toilet. Do as much or as little as we want in our own place, and have all the conveniences in the central part. Idealistic, I know, I know....
Kind of like a tribe. Hunting/cooking/pow wow's are communal but each family unit has their own teepee.
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Old 07-21-2009, 04:10 PM
 
Location: zippidy doo dah
579 posts, read 647,907 times
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Default That works too!

without a doubt, that works as well! and likely better in many ways. i love my quiet/private time - my own little nook so that is the ideal. and is very much the co-housing concept and i suppose in some ways some of the elder housing approach. actually, in asheville, there is a community in Flat Rock , I believe, that i visited this past spring. very nice - wonderful community gathering area - a pretty little village-feel area of housing and there are some small cottages being built with an intentional community feel. The downside - I think the price for the size was fairly pricey - high on the "per square foot" model but again, nice place and Asheville area is lovely.

shared housing is likely more an option where someone cannot get rid of their home but can't really afford/or doesn't wish to spend so much money on housing - or where a house is inherited (i'm stealing from the book here) - it's just one way to approach the concept of living cheaper and also having a close by support basis for all the different phases of our lives - so many things happen regardless of our ages and an extra hand, whatever - ahh, so wonderful -

the comment about zoning was brought up and yes, that's a biggie - old neighborhoods of yesteryear had granny apts and the like where people of lesser means could live in nice neighborhoods and there was a mingling affect as well as a good place to live - that was killed by zoning, by exclusivity, etc - the desire by so many of us, myself included, to protect property values and the like - we lost a lot in that - lost diversity, lost community, alienated a lot of society and in the end cheated ourselves as well - my approach would be to start appearing before your local city/county government and pushing for a move to change the way we view shared housing concepts - when wrapped in senior housing opportunities etc, aging in place, most politicians are becoming more attuned to changing things - we'll all deal with nimby-ism - but as the population ages, we will overcome - or did i steal that line too?
tricia

Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
I'm thinking more of a designed community in which you could live off the grid but close by (a central community house) where regular things like electric appliances, TV, toilet/bathroom, cooking facilities (esp in larger amounts) could be offered. Everyone would split the cost of utilities in the community house, and pay their share of property taxes and keep up their own little separate house/cottage that has a woodstove and a few oil lamps and an indoor composting toilet. Do as much or as little as we want in our own place, and have all the conveniences in the central part. Idealistic, I know, I know....
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Old 07-21-2009, 06:27 PM
 
1,118 posts, read 1,974,788 times
Reputation: 1105
Hello everyone,

I first saw this thread months ago...kind of kept track by seeing individual messages in my gmail, but for some reason today kind of skimmed thru the entire thread! The good thing about that is, as another poster has said, it is like reading a book and getting to the happy ending--at least for Wisteria!! It seems so fitting because she started this thread...and how ironic that, instead of moving to New Mexico, she is staying local, but with a better life scenario! Inspiring indeed.
Also wonderful posts from triciajeanne and karcon. I can relate to a lot.

My situation in brief: I already moved last year from metro NYC to Houston metro, largely to help out with my 98-year-old mother. I have very few relatives and they are all here. I'm not wild about Houston -- yet -- but I haven't really set up "My Life" yet, either. I sold my NY co-op and would have had a nice profit except that I refinanced in 2004 after a job loss and doubled the mortgage. I have "subsidized" myself with the sale proceeds since I got here...but the $ is essentially gone and I am running up the CC's again. I never planned to not be working for all this time, but it was just one thing after another with my mother. She's now in a nursing home, but as many of you know that's just another type of caregiving and requires a lot of time and "maintenance" of the situation.

Like Anomoly, Plantlover, MMhere and Knoxgarden, I am never married and have no kids, except (like Knoxgarden) for the two felines. I've always had a "set" of two. I'm 59 --but the big 6-0 is next month. I have no pension to look forward to and no 401K...so I'm probably one of those boomers who will have to work forever unless I a: hit the Texas Lottery, b: meet some rich guy with a bad heart, or c: get a great job and/or a great roommate. I rent a very modest apartment right now but do dream of a little house, which I've never had. I did choose a bad time to be looking for a job, though...only my hindsight has ever been 20/20.

I don't know if I'll stay in Houston when my mom is gone...as I say, my few relatives are here...and I do wonder who will look after ME in 20 years or so!? I don't see moving back up to NY (too expensive and I don't miss winter at all) or my native Ohio. I DO love Arizona (go every March for spring training baseball with a friend) but I don't know that I want to live there. Like others have said, there is a certain comfort level in the many services and opportunities of a city. I moved from the largest to the fourth-largest, so I'm probably not a country girl at heart. I loved one of the posts (Tesaje, maybe? forget) describing the little cottage somewhere, but she lost me with the "no electricity and composted toilet"!! I do require power, running water and indoor plumbing!

Anyway...I do enjoy reading these exciting, touching and inspirational posts. I don't recall seeing that anyone is from the Houston area, or even Texas...but wave "howdy" if you are!
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Old 07-21-2009, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Knoxville, TN
2,173 posts, read 5,023,839 times
Reputation: 1435
The University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Labs are working on a Zero Energy House/Smart Building program.
UT Knoxville | College of Architecture + Design | Solar Decathlon (http://www.arch.utk.edu/Zero_Energy/default.shtml - broken link)
It's still in the early research planning stage but it's at least something is being worked on. It's part of the Solar Decathlon competition being held in Washington, D.C.
http://www.solardecathlon.org/
And for those who want something now, The Farm, also in Tennesse but closer to Nashville, offers the Ecovillage Training Center.
Ecovillage Training Center
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Old 07-21-2009, 09:34 PM
 
Location: New England
12,393 posts, read 8,638,277 times
Reputation: 8960
Quote:
Originally Posted by catfancier View Post
My situation in brief: I already moved last year from metro NYC to Houston metro, largely to help out with my 98-year-old mother. I have very few relatives and they are all here. I'm not wild about Houston -- yet -- but I haven't really set up "My Life" yet, either. I sold my NY co-op and would have had a nice profit except that I refinanced in 2004 after a job loss and doubled the mortgage. I have "subsidized" myself with the sale proceeds since I got here...but the $ is essentially gone and I am running up the CC's again. I never planned to not be working for all this time, but it was just one thing after another with my mother. She's now in a nursing home, but as many of you know that's just another type of caregiving and requires a lot of time and "maintenance" of the situation.
Hi Catfancier, welcome to this thread, and you also might want to check in on Retiring on a Literal Shoestring thread, where some of us are wondering how we will get by and who will take mercy on us in old age! Many of us have lost jobs at an older age and are doing creative things to keep going, some have owned homes, others do not, some have pensions, others do not, some have cared for parents, some have kids, others do not...but we are all here to support each other and give congrats and cry on each others' shoulders and give suggestions...what a generation we are, full of guts and optimism and determination in a country that's no longer easy to retire in. Keep us posted on what you decide to do!
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:50 AM
 
Location: zippidy doo dah
579 posts, read 647,907 times
Reputation: 812
Just running through the posts this morning on my digest version - i'll be brief - a rare occurrence - just wanted to say "i love you guys!" group hug
we do have such wonderful stories and our brainstormings here are bearing fruit. It's good to know you're not alone!!
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