Is cohousing worth a look?

Want to live somewhere where you have both the advantages of a fully-appointed communal house and your own smaller private house or cottage? Where you have your own community of neighbors to share resources, skills and knowledge? Where you know your belongings and pets will be safe whether you take a trip to the supermarket or around the world? Where you know the people around you will help you out if you need it, where you can share home-cooked meals and social life when you want to?  Cohousing may be a fit for you.

Although the concept is not a new one, it's a growing trend in the U.S., especially among the baby boomers as an alternative to living alone in a house or apartment, a gated retirement community or  conventional senior "facility".  There are several multi-generational and senior communities up and running in the U.S. and many more in the making. Among the many advantages are community, privacy, democratic self-government and  flexibility to meet the needs of the community. No outside developer or condo board sets the rules for you.  YOU, as part of the group, determine the membership, design of the community, and how you would like to manage your day-to-day living. 

I believe this idea could work very well here in Mexico and at a much lower cost than a comparable community in the U.S., both in construction and daily expenses.  If you'd like to discuss more, please write to me. A good introduction to the concept is the article "Aging Better Together" by Anne P. Glass.  Thanks for reading!

Well casa colbri,

Many natives in Mexico have had this sort of community,  Its usually family and friend based not just people.  You are talking about a commune which is an old concept. It is a workable thing , but tricky.   When you get groups of people together like that, you need a like minded idea and very compatible people. The mennonites live that way here, but that is a religious group who farm.

So If I understand you correctly you want an American community like that here. Here is one.

Hello again, I communicated with you previously - you sent me some photos and I was very impressed. This is a great idea, and I think it would really serve people with this concept.  You are very sincere, and will be successful. I too am seeking an area to call my  new home.  I am traveling - for the 2nd time to San Cristobal de las Casas - to follow up on that "great point of interest".

No, not  a commune a la 60s hippies, nor the new millennial re-make of that old movie like your rancho example.  Commune implies  a sharing of ALL assets, including income.  This is cohousing, with the primary objective being to share the amenities of communal house, some meals and companionship, but not intermingle your pocketbook with mine, nor your private space with mine.

One of the defining characteristics of cohousing is the physical building positioning of private homes facing the communal house and designing the community for social interactions. The most common reasons for adopting cohousing as a way to live center on the $ savings of  sharing expenses, the social aspects of friendship and neighbors who "got your back", and the privacy of your own dwelling.

In the small group I propose, compatibility will be important.  There are trained cohousing facilitators who groups engage to give workshops on group dynamics and communication, two essentials to success in cohousing. We don't have to be clones to get along, but we need to be able to cooperate with one another and recognize different communication styles and how to handle disagreements effectively.

It will be set up as a non-profit corporation with members owning shares in the whole.  It is not  eco, agricultural or religion oriented, nor is it work-based in any way. Neither is it a gated community with track houses and a "clubhouse".  If you're interested in knowing more about the concept - and its differences from a commune -  I suggest any book about cohousing by Charles Durett, or Google cohousing and look a what's going on now in the U.S., in both multi-generational and senior cohousing communities.

I welcome any other questions you may have, travellight, and the chance to clarify any misconceptions.

Sure, I remember chatting with you, Peggy!  How's San Cristobal working out?  Hope it was what you were seeking!  Best wishes to you!

Travellight, If you;d like to bypass the reading and Googling, you might go directly to a couple of senior cohousing communities websites: Silver Sage Village  and/or Elderberry for a look

"Like a condo or co-op association, residents own their homes and the land is owned collectively. In addition, families pay approximately $3,500 a year to fund shared resources and amenities."
Pretty successful in parts of europe In the U.S not as successful as you think. Not as communal as a commune, more like a condo association. Owners , managers, counselors, and sales people.

Not a new concept, but I wish you luck, keep in touch and let us know if it is working for you.

I am actually looking into San Cristobal as well. Never been there but looks very nice and affordable. Please share more about that area. I would like to know more.

Well, Travellight, that's not quite it either...but maybe you're getting a bit warmer than "commune".  No condo boards, condo rules and regulations, sales people (other than me not looking to make a profit, BTW), no developers, no outside managers.  WE, the members of this cohousing project, will be in charge of it as a group. WE will design it, build it and administer it. It's not confusing. Please, please  consult the sources I've suggested.

That was not my opinion, I just passed on things that were already published about the concept. If you disagree then speak with Mr. Stewart, a founder and the news paper that did the article I posted for you.

I am well educated, and knowledgeable in a number of areas so it is not a mystery to me.  I remember the Japanese trying to introduce the concept. It seemed you were questioning, so I tried to present some balanced  facts for you.

If you actually need help let us know.

Good luck, It didn't work for mr. Stewart, He feels that is partly 'because what works with europeans often does not work with Americans', seems logical from what I have seen, but I'm not investing in this you are.

Thanks you for your offer of help, Travellight. What kind of help can you offer? Cohousing is not for everyone, the same way that "Leisure Village" isn't. I am fully aware that finding the right group of compatible people is key to its success, but  I am not questioning  that my efforts can succeed.   I have a clear plan and am blessed with the old-fashioned attributes of gumption and perseverance to pursue it.

I personally think it is a great idea. Many details will have to be worked out but the concept is great. I am a single woman and I would love to live outside of city but I do not feel secure to do it on my own in Mexico. This kind of setting would be perfect with the right people.

Thanks, Itobys. That's exactly my thinking! Let's go find those right people!  :top:

Here are a few 2017 links that will hopefully offset the dreary 2001 article you posted from sfgate.,Travellight.  It's come a long way in 16 years! And especially in the arena of senior cohousing. … g/82760600 … nt-page-1/ … 827606001/ … ive_longer

Here are a couple of articles I encountered while researching cohousing as an alternative:

This was my first inspiration - … _Glass.htm

More recent ones: … nt-page-1/ … 827606001/

I also contacted Silver Sage Village and Elderberry to find if someone could act as a mentor. Got a willing volunteer from both places!

I LOVE the idea! I tried for years to convince my extended family to do this sort of thing, calling it instead a compound; everyone has their own home, but there are communal resources and of course shared management - as you describe in the "We" part of determining who does what. Some folks were interested until others piped up - you could hear the bickering and gossip starting...and this was only the idea stage!
The hardest part, of course, is finding the right people.

Hello Anne,   Count me in.... I totally agree with the concept.  I am watching this space closely and will be interested in further developments....  I have a daughter living in Mexico and have been considering moving there...  The children have their own lives to lead and your idea  will enable me to see them more often and not be dependent on them for socializing, having my own interest and company my own age...  would be lovely to have a support of this kind, do your own thing yet have a support group at hand.
Best of luck
Arien - South Africa

Yeah count me in. I have lived in intention community, a month at Findhorn, eco village training. Also some time in Costa Rica. Also WWOOFed for 9 months at 3 different intentional communities. I like having a common space shared and common meals. I am probably more commune oriented than others in this conversation. I get the having your own space but also having a common area to share time and food and resources. I am an old commune hippy from back in the late 70s. I have had interest in the intentional community movement for probably about 2 decades.  Thanks for including me in conversation.  I am going to Cancun for the first time for the month of Feb and March.

HI Aliceah,
I lived at Findhorn for 2+ years back in the mid 1980's !    I am now in Mexico for a month and considering long winter stays here on the Pacific.  Single, daughter in college, work part time.    So, why not?!  Let's stay in touch.   Arlene

Yes Arleneruby Lets keep in touch. Are you on the ocean, sounds like it. The community that CasaColibri is trying to form is inland in Guanajuato. Perhaps you knew that already. . My intention is to do much like what you mentioned, to be out of cold Canada for the winter. That is so I can swim in the warm ocean.   Peace,

I have been doing a lot of research on the topic of Cohousing for seniors.  I find that many people are all for the concept but not so many have put these concepts into reality.  Although there appear to be quite a few that are in exististence in the US.  I have yet to find any in Mexico.  There was one near Ajijic, Lake Chapala area that was trying to get started, which may be working out by now.  I heard of it when i stayed in Ajijic a couple of Winters ago.  Now I continue to search and was wondering if you knew of any such communities elsewehere in Mexico.   Of course, having visited SMA, i would love to find a seniors community within a reasonable distance from the town.  I hope you can share your knowledge regarding this topic  I am grateful for any information that could further my research.
I should add that a seniors community does not have to be strictly cohousing. 

This might be of help to you. they are basically retirement communities and step down facilities for seniors. … ty-problem

There are small communities in places like Merida, but they are not senior specific. Mexico is a very family oriented country so seniors live with, or near family.

Good to know about senior living in Puerto Vallarta area.   It is definitely difficult to find care when wanting to retire on the Pacific.

I am curious about El Tuito Tierra Alta community. Anyone knows anything? It looks beautiful. The only thing I worry about is wooden construction since Mexico is prone to termites. Any ideas or thoughts? Anyone checked it out?

Hi Aliceah

I hope to be in Mexico each winter for 5-6 months.  I am over 60 and looking for other retirees to share the same dream.   Let's keep in touch, yes?   I plan to come to the PV area next Dec. and looking to find other single travelers to explore with.  Would you be interested in sharing personal emails?

In my previous post I was asking about Tierra Alta community. I am not sure if this is totally me though. What I am looking for is security more or less. But at the same time I am not a typical ex-pat, I mean I will be since I am still in the US. I am a very simple girl. I really do not want a postage stamp over priced lot with HOA regulations. I cannot stand HOAs. I am living in one right now. I want to grow my garden and fruit trees, may be have a goat. I am  not going to get my hair/nails done and jump in my Honda CRV to drive for a dinner in PV. I cut my hair, do not do nails, do not eat out. And I would just buy a small beat up pick up truck to haul some stuff for my garden and blend in with the locals so I do not stand out like a sore thumb. So, I am kind of looking for a community to feel save but not sure if I even fit in in those communities at all. I do not care about some theater play or bingo night. I just want to live in a small village, have my huge garden and feel safe as a single female. I would even live without electricity but I have to work on computer, so I will need internet which sucks because otherwise I could just go to bed when sun goes down and wake up with roosters. Simple life at its finest. Is it only me? Am I that weird? I guess I spent too much time at school...:)

Sounds good, Itobys,  grow your own food, live simply. Have done a bit of that when I wwoofed Willing workers on organic farms.

Random thoughts from different posts. Apologies for not specifically quoting individual names of posters:

I ran across some articles about Ajijic a while back. I recall that those who were inclined along these lines are brought together through a gathering which regularly studies "A Course In Miracles".

The website "A Place For Mom" has an interesting article:

-----click text for link----
A Place For Dad: Does Gender Matter In Senior Care?

Not that we are talking about assisted living or a nursing home, but some great points are made in the article about how women and men handle both aging and organizing differently.

I'm also single, and I'd like to think I'm doing a good job of retiring from needing to be in control. I'd be very interested in a community which is largely organized by women, because I think there would be a greater chance for peace, harmony and flexibility.

I'd be happy to assume the role of worker bee and provide whatever physical labor the community needed from me, according to my abilities and special skills (health care, music, sweeping, mopping, etc).

Although not a true commune as I'm reading this thread, there would need to be some equal minimum amount of disposable income available from all participants.

I can envision some residents being permanent, limited mostly by lack of additional income, yet available to keep an eye out for the property of those who have enough resources to travel frequently. 

It also occurs to me that such an enterprise might easily evolve from a pre-existing structure (an apartment building or hotel for temporary residences) to the eventual ideal configuration decided upon by the group.

Not meant as an affront to other men here, but I hope to hear some heart-storming by the women in the conversation, for I have this sense that you ladies may be best equipped to generate a unique vision.

Otherwise, we men may attempt to brain-storm a plan... ;-)

thank you for that, yes, I'm more interested in existing co housing.

You express your ideas well and it almost sounds like Utopian.  It would appear that many people agree with you as many have written a scenario not unlike yours.  I have been listening and reading these for many years now.  However I am getting older and need to find an existing home.  I am seeking one in Mexico because I have spent Winter there in Ajijic to be specific and liked living there.  I also spent time in San Miguel de Allende and would like to live close to SMA centro.

Thank you, OceanBeach.  I read the gender article with interest. Important factors to consider.  I believe one of the strengths of a true cohousing community is that it offers the opportunity for everyone, men and women, to contribute  to the community with the skills and knowledge that each possesses, whether it's  in the more feminine  realm of  household management, cooking or flower arranging (not that men can't do those, too!) to things which require the more traditional male -oriented  aspects like mechanical maintenance, building, and keeping those cars in tip-top condition (I do those things too!) Besides those skill sets,  a blend of the masculine and feminine approaches to problem-solving is both desirable and useful. Teddy bears and bows, and Rescuing Private Ryan  and Monday Night football can coexist in harmony.

I'm very interested in co-housing in Mexico. I am very familiar with the co-housing concept, have been trying for several years to get something established where I am currently living yet have begun to consider doing so in Mexico, a place I love. My preference is to be in an area that feels like Mexico, not an expat community. The co-housing community can be expat, but I'm hoping the larger community will feel Mexican. I want to learn and speak Spanish daily, I've read about the one in Guanajuato yet wonder that it may be too "expat" for me. I don't know the surrounding community, does it feel Mexican? Is anyone trying something elsewhere? Thanks in advance. Hope to see more of these posts.

devo6655 :

I'm very interested in co-housing in Mexico. I am very familiar with the co-housing concept, have been trying for several years to get something established where I am currently living yet have begun to consider doing so in Mexico, a place I love. My preference is to be in an area that feels like Mexico, not an expat community. The co-housing community can be expat, but I'm hoping the larger community will feel Mexican. I want to learn and speak Spanish daily, I've read about the one in Guanajuato yet wonder that it may be too "expat" for me. I don't know the surrounding community, does it feel Mexican? Is anyone trying something elsewhere? Thanks in advance. Hope to see more of these posts.

I would check out Merida if I were you.

Hello again.   I have posted a couple of times and now following up.
I, too, am a single over-60 woman.   My daughter would visit me in Mexico each winter.   I am very interested in co-housing.   However, I prefer the ocean...which makes choosing difficult as the ocean is more touristy.   At any rate, if anyone is interested in perhaps securing a few apartments together in the same building (is this possible?!) on the Pacific, please let me know.   I only go to Mexico in the winter months so I would not be buying a place or becoming an expat.    Still, being with like-minded men and women would be wonderful as I want to explore much more of Mexican life and not feel tied to one area.   I do want a base, however, on the ocean.   Please get in touch if this sounds interesting to you.   My months would be late Dec. - April.        Arlene

I plan to go back to Playa del Carmen on the Caribbean this winter but would consider making a trip to the Pacific side. Keep in touch and we can see what are the possibilities.

Hi Alice!
Yes, I think we have eachother's email...yes?    I will be in the PV area some time in Dec.   Not sure if it will be just before or just after xmas.   Good to hear from you again!   Let's plan to meet .  I think co-housing would take a lot of work and research.   And since I will only be going 4 months of the year I'm not sure if it will work out for me.   Still, as you know, finding like-minded people to explore, learn and have fun with is my goal!

HI.   I'm Arlene.   Do you live in Mexico year-round?   And where are you located?  I have two friends that live in co-housing in the Seattle area.   What you write is what I want.   However, if you read my posts (Rubytue), you will see that I will not be actually living in Mexico   4-5 months would be my stay.   Still, if you consider this type of living, then it is possible to accommodate part-timers I'm sure.   Another friend lives in Ajijic in a community and they have two areas for part-timers.   Would love to stay in touch.

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