Frequently asked questions and links to other organizations.

What is adult co-housing?

Our village concept is based on a movement known as cohousing, a collaborative community style imported from Denmark. Here’s a pretty good description of cohousing. And here is a recent discussion in the AARP on-line bulletin.

Do I own my own unit?

Yes.You will have a private, high quality, luxury condo utilizing aging-in-place principles (minimal stairs, accessible cabinets and appliances). Full kitchens and decks will be included.

Do I also own a share of the community?

Yes. Along with other households you will own an “undivided” share of the all of the common spaces which may include: community house,  shops, craft rooms, storage areas,  patios, gardens, hallways, walkways, elevators and utility areas.

How much will it cost?

Typically, cohousing projects cost about the same as comparable condominium projects. The individual units are often smaller and there is more common space. Based on the size and specific finishes chosen, we estimate that the units will sell for between $355,000 and $720,000. Here is a further discussion of prices by our consultants, Cohousing Partners.

What about HOA fees?

We expect monthly dues will be in the neighborhood of $375 to $700/mo, depending on the size of your home and how we decide to cover costs. For example, many communities have decided it is more efficient to have one hot water system for the whole building rather than by individual unit,  and then include their heating costs in the HOA dues. That  would increase the HOA dues but actually cost people less than paying for hot water heaters individually.  The community will be involved in setting up the HOA budget, but ultimately it will also need to be approved by the State Department of Real Estate.

What about parking?

While many of us are planning on reducing or eliminating use of a private automobile, each unit will own a single off-street, secured parking space. Some people have already left their cars behind, so we can have fewer spaces than units (by three spaces). We have intentionally located our project to be well served by public transit and private car-sharing services.

How big are the units?

We are in the process of doing specific design. We envision that there will be a variety of unit sizes and configurations to accommodate the various needs of the members. There one and two bedrooms with some units including studies. Guest bedrooms are not essential as there will be several guest suites available to reserve within the common space. Unit sizes range from 674 SF to 1255 SF. We have allocated about 5,000 SF of common space including a commercial-style kitchen and dining area, bike storage and exercise and yoga spaces, living/reading area and the rooftop deck. Specifics will be determined through the group design process.

Is this a care facility for people who can’t stay in their homes anymore?

No. We do not offer skilled nursing care, memory care or medical support.  It is not a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). It is not a retirement home or a convalescent facility.  It IS an community of proactive adults who have decided to decided to live in a tight-knit community of friends.  It’s more about the “next third” of our lives and making the most of that period. Now with features like age-in-place design in the individual homes and a community of helping caring people, it will mean people can stay in their homes much longer than if they were isolated.  It’s about finding fun and enrichment in  life.

Do you prohibit children?

Absolutely not. We love children.  We are definitely catering to citizens 55 and older, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a child or younger person living in your unit with you.  Under the law, the requirement is that 80% of our units (20) must be occupied by at least one person who is 55 or older.  20% of our units (5) have no age restriction.  But our facilities are really aimed at supporting the needs of an aging population.

Is this just a Portland thing?

Cohousing is sweeping the nation. There are now about 150 cohousing developments in operation and another 100 in various stages of development.

Would I be able to take extended trips?

Yes. Others in the community will gladly help keep an eye on your home while you are traveling. We are talking about setting up an international exchange with other cohousing communities around the world.

Where can guests stay?

We we will provide additional living or sleeping quarters for visiting friends and family or for future caregiver staff. This will also allow you to scale back your need for extra bedrooms.

Do I have to participate in community meals?

No, but you are encouraged to do so. It is one of the ways to increase socialization and reduce isolation.  The frequency of common meals will be determined by the formed community.

How do I know if I would like PDX Commons?

It would be good to get to know some of the people planning the project. Many opportunities abound. Just ask. In addition, this page describes the role of respect and responsibility when living in community and talks about the kind of people who thrive in collaborative communities.

What is your timeline?

  • Outreach to gain core members, begin spring, 2014
  • Design, fall, winter 2014-15
  • Construction start, beginning of 2016
  • Occupancy, summer 2017

How will this be different from a senior-oriented traditional retirement project like the Mirabella or Calaroga Terrace?

PDX Commons will be designed, owned and operated by our members. Everyone will be on the governing body. There is no corporation or non-profit organization making decisions for us. We are driven by the benefits to our members, not a corporate bottom line. In PDX Commons you can participate in the design and development process to ensure that the project meets your needs.  Most importantly, PDX Commons is an intentional community. For us a strong community is an explicit goal, not the lucky coincidence of having good neighbors.

Not only is cohousing a more pleasant and satisfying way to live, there are also studies that show that living in a senior cohousing community is actually less expensive than comparable private alternative. Look at this article.

Can I expect a profit from my contribution?

No. The most you can expect is that, assuming the project is successfully constructed, you will have an opportunity to purchase a new home in our community. All monies contributed are at risk (but the risk was much greater in the earlier stages of the project). They may be considered a down payment on your future home. But, again, there are no guarantees that any one of a number of factors won’t derail or delay the project. Before joining as an Equity Member, you will be given a disclosure statement detailing the risks. We also expect all Equity Members in our member-managed LLC to participate fully in the decision-making guiding the project. That means serving actively on committees, informing yourself on issues, and actively being involved in the day-to-day management of your contributions.


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