Q. Are you affiliated with any political, religious, economic, or philosophical group or ideology?
No. We are simply a group of regular Anchorage citizens who want to live in a neighborhood in which the residents know each other. The only organization we’re associated with is the Cohousing Association of the United States.
Q. What if I don’t feel like socializing all the time?
Very few of us feel like socializing all of the time. In cohousing, there is no expectation to be social at any particular time. Cohousing offers the choice of enjoying the privacy of your own home (and in common areas that are not currently being used by others), or enjoying whatever happens to be going on in the neighborhood. How much you socialize is up to you. Of course, those of us who choose to live here do so because in general, we enjoy getting to know one another. Cohousing is actually very popular with introverts, because there’s no “work” required to socialize; it’s “built in” and happens naturally.
Q. If I buy a home and decide to sell later, how would this work?
A. Legally, we are a condominium association. So you would sell your home just like you would sell any other condo, except that Ravens’ Roost Cohousing would want to educate any potential buyer about cohousing and the shared intention to get to know one’s neighbors. As the owner, you would decide on price, etc.
Architectural Rendering of south-facing common house patio.
Q. What if I don’t like all my neighbors?
Well, don’t be surprised. It would be difficult to expect to like every single person in a group of 35 households. There will naturally be some people with whom you get along better than others. But when that person who slightly annoys you picks you up at the airport or helps your daughter with her calculus homework, he or she might suddenly not seem so bad. You may even grow to like people whom you had earlier judged poorly. Some say that cohousing is the biggest personal growth experience you’ll ever have.
Q. How do 35 households make decisions?
Most cohousing decisions are delegated to smaller teams that create proposals for the entire group to review and either approve or send back for modification. From our Animal Agreement to landscaping choices, consensus is the most common decision-making method. Consensus decision-making requires that all voices are heard, which often results in more information being considered. This helps prevent the poor decisions for which conventional Homeowner Association Boards are notorious. It also creates more buy-in to the final decision. Consensus is not necessarily unanimity. A consensus decision is one that everyone can live with — it often includes modifications made by those who were not satisfied with the original proposal. These collaborative solutions can have an elegance and creativity that is only possible through collective wisdom. Consensus decision-making allows any member to block a proposal, but only when a member sincerely feels that a proposal violates the stated core values of the group, or will not be good for the group in the long term. Those who have a need for full control generally do not join cohousing because the idea of “consensus” sends them running.
Q. Who owns the land?
The land is owned on a pro-rata basis by each homeowner.
Q. Do you allow pets?
Yes, we allow pets, and require that pet owners be responsible. See our Animal Agreement on our web site under “About Us.”
Q. Will you have garages?
Yes. Each home comes with one open air parking spot and one space in a heated garage.
Q. You say that residents will maintain the neighborhood. Are there “chores,” and how will those be divided?
Chores are announced through the community’s communication channels (meetings, bulletin board, online message board). Chores range from participating on a team to clean the common house to shoveling and snow removal to landscaping parties to plant new trees and bushes to working on a meal team to help cook or clean for a common meal. Residents decide for themselves how many hours they contribute and which chores they do. General expectations for participation are set by the community based on the maintenance needs of the neighborhood.
Different cohousing groups have figured out different ways to divide the work. Sometimes teams are created to either oversee particular areas of work (e.g., maintenance or landscaping), or to perform regular tasks (e.g., snow removal, dishwashing after shared meals, cleaning the common house, or organizing reservations for the guest rooms). Typically, cohousers spend about 4-6 hours per month doing work (remember, you already do a lot of work around your current home). For larger projects, occasional 4-hour work days have proven successful in cohousing neighborhoods. Residents with fewer physical capabilities help with planning, purchasing supplies, watching kids, providing drink and food to those doing the heavy lifting, putting tools away afterward, etc. Some other cohousing groups advise to keep track of hours worked, and sometimes charge an hourly fee for those who do not work. They find that such structure reduces the acrimony and guilt that can occur in completely voluntary systems.
Q. Who cooks the shared meals?
Meal preparation is done by small teams that include a head cook and 2-3 assistant cooks. Residents are expected to participate in a meal preparation team approximately twice per month.
Q. Will residents be required or expected to eat in the Common House?
No, shared meals are optional. We’re currently having 3 optional, shared dinners per week. Residents sign up a few days beforehand so that the head cook knows how much food to buy. Remember, every home has a complete kitchen.
Q. How much are the Home Owner Association (HOA) dues and what do they include?
HOA dues include heat, water, garbage, curbside recycling, snow removal, other common space expenditures (Common House, Workshop, and grounds), and a future replacement cost account. Homeowners pay for their own electric, cable/internet, and phone.
Depending on the size of the home, HOA fees fall between $300 – $400 per household per month.
Q. How extensive will your gardens be?
We have some serious gardeners in our group, and others who are eager to learn, so we anticipate extensive gardening. The main garden is located south and slightly west of the Common House, but smaller ones dot the property. There are a few community gardens that produce vegetables and herbs for common meals and there are private gardens tended by individuals for use in their homes. We also have people trained in permaculture, and our landscape plan includes an orchard and quite a bit of edible, perennial landscaping. We currently compost and we anticipate having a greenhouse and root cellar.
Q. Parking looks like it’s a long ways to the unit I’d like to live in. How will I get my groceries to my house?
We have carts to take things to and from our cars.
Q. Several of your members seem a bit older. Are kids welcome?
Absolutely! We really want to have people of all ages, including kids. It is fairly typical for a new cohousing neighborhood to be developed by people in their 50s and 60s, because they have the time, money, skills, and experience to take on such a project. Younger families often join later on.
Q. Which public schools would kids attend?
Trailside Elementary, Hanshew Middle School, and Service High School. Pacific Northern Academy is located at Abbott and Lake Otis, just half a mile from us.
If you would like to live in a more fun, sustainable way, in a more connected and interactive neighborhood,
Call our membership hotline at 907-399-2051. Also see our Membership page.
“One of the great dynamics of money is that it grounds us, and when we put money behind our commitments it grounds them, too, making them real in the world. We can wish for better schools, a clean environment, and world peace; we can even volunteer, but when we also put our money behind those intentions, we become really serious about them. Money is a great translator of intention to reality, vision to fulfillment.” From The Soul of Money by Lynn Twist
Come back soon for more questions and answers.