Are you a nuclear family wanting to live close by or with other families, possibly sharing an indoor or outdoor courtyard, a garden, or recreational space? Explore the options here.
Tips for collaborating on multi-family housing
- Discuss your options. Decide what type of property would be workable—a place with shared land but separate houses, a duplex, condominiums, or a unit within a basement or separate wing of an existing single-family house? Consider non-standard options such as co-purchasing a historic mansion or repurposing a boutique hotel. What ownership structures would be workable? Could you rent-to-own at an existing family-oriented intentional community? Could you join with others to form a new community that has co-ownership of shares but which maintains a rental or buy-out option for flexibility? Will you share joint ownership of resources you don’t constantly use, such as a laundry room, workshop or studio space, recreation equipment, or an extra vehicle?
- Explore existing ICs. The most direct path to experiencing life in an IC full of families with similar-aged children is to find an existing family-friendly intentional community. Go to IC.org/directory then put into the search function that you are looking for ICs accepting new members. Scroll down to see different types of searches available. Check the interactive map for the areas you’re interested in. Look in the IC.org classified ads for forming communities. Do some google searches, which may bring up communities that are so new they haven’t registered with IC.org. When you find a promising prospective IC, contact them and discuss your interest. Arrange a visit if possible. Check out the onsite or nearby schools and childcare facilities.
- Give the area a trial run. You might temporarily rent near an IC that looks promising, while you assess whether the location is workable for you for a long-term rental. As a volunteer and on a wait list, you could participate in the community meals and other activities. This will give you a chance to know members better and find out the history and challenges of the IC.
- Give other families a trial run. If you find other families that seem a great fit, write up an agreement for a trial period, such as a 6-month lease together. Have set dates at which all can assess whether or not a continued partnership is workable.
- Create financial contracts. Investigate the possibilities for a mortgage in which all adults are co-signers, sometimes called a mixer mortgage. Alternatively, one family could take on a loan for property purchase and the other(s) could draw up a lease or rent-to-own contract with the owning family.
This documentary chronicles one family’s journey from a single-family home with children, to the struggles, enjoyment, and sense of purpose living in a cooperative housing cluster of joined single-family buildings with farmland.
Mo, E. E. (Director/Producer). (2020). Permatopia [Documentary film].
For joint real estate purchase, for investment or co-living, see sharetini.com. Their profiles are organized by location.
Other pages for IC Types may have additional resources useful for your group, especially Single-parents Shared Housing and Cohousing. Also take a look at the Resource-sharing Commune page. There is often more flexibility and privacy than many imagine there would be. While the majority of intentional communities are not income-sharing, this New York Magazine article reports many benefits of full or partial income sharing, stating that “Many of these parents had lived here for years; they had lost touch with the fact that on the outside—or “the mainstream,” as they call it—parents often have no one and nothing to rely on but themselves.”
This article has more helpful tips about co-purchasing with friends or relatives.