I think choosing a cohousing community is like choosing your college. Is this the place for you?
When I was looking at colleges my dad wanted me to go to the in state school in the state where he lived. I hated the presentation given by the admissions personnel – they seemed snobby – “we know you did everything you could to get into our wonderful school.” Then, he left me alone on the tour and it was my first time on a campus so when he said I’ll meet you at the admission’s building I didn’t know the word admission.
We passed a student who had on a T shirt from my favorite rock band so we got to talking and when I looked around the tour had left me behind. I ran off but could never find them. I went into a building and asked where to find some building that started with an A. She said “Administration? they are all that.”
I left feeling overwhelmed and completely lost. I sat by a road and started balling. It was a huge school and I knew it wasn’t right for me but now I was sure I’d be stuck here for good – never to find my father again. A soda vender saw me crying and gave me a free soda. Luckily after awhile I saw my father drive by but he didn’t hear me. I cried more but with luck, he drove by again and I jumped up in time. Crisis over but I never applied to that school and I did learn that I wanted a small college.
My father was disappointed especially over the price of smaller schools but if he had done his research (no Internet then) he could have shown me an amazing small school that was in state. Instead my friend told me of a school she saw while visiting family and everything I saw about it seemed perfect for me – the brochures, the write ups in college seeking books, the video they gave to the guidance office. I even visited and loved it and everyone I met there. However I also heard of this amazing school where they never gave grades. I had to check that out too.
My friend and I went alone to visit that school and another and had a blast as young people out on our first road trip without supervision. Yet when I visited the anticipated college and met with students they didn’t seem too enthusiastic. They even put down the school. Even the admission’s person I met with was just so-so. Thanks for the road trip excuse, but I never applied there and my friend didn’t to the schools she visited.
I went to the college which I loved and it was the perfect fit. I was hopping cohousing would be similar but I was wrong. First off, we didn’t have children in college and it had a system and culture already of policies and accountability. Plus, you leave in 4-5 years.
I know college is expensive so just like buying a car – check under the hood. Is it worth it? Luckily with college, you can transfer to another school. Cohousing is much more expensive than college – most houses are over $100,000 and you can’t just transfer without emotional and financial costs.
I just talked to someone who lived in an ecovillage. She loved it. She choose to leave for financial reasons. But she described the type of cohousing I was looking for – a community that processed and talked through everything, a community with a lot of spontaneity and fun. She said you could always find someone to play a game in the common house or start a project with you. Very creative energy. A yes attitude.
In my community it was the opposite. Quite reserved. “You have to bring that to a committee”. I tried to have a movie night and was thrown all these curve balls with requests on type of movies, where to have it, etc.
So, I choose the wrong college and I”m still stuck with the bills. Like I keep saying, rent first. Stay at least a year – check under the hood and ask a lot of questions.