Monday, June 10, 2013

Still Dreaming of an Intentional Neighborhood


I know, I know. This post is going to make it sound like I'm never content with what's right in front of me.

Here we are on the verge of moving into an awesome house that we had built on a half-acre of land at the end of a cul-de-sac that backs up to a creek. And I'm about to start talking about our next house after that. 

Seriously? 

Well, yes and no. On the one hand, I am so eager to put down roots (which is my mantra for the year) and to build ourselves the most amazing little sanctuary. And we're definitely moving forward with this plan (and we're not going to hold back, simply because we might move in the future). 

On the other hand, I'm still dreaming and scheming about living in a co-housing community (or, at the very least, a little intentional pocket neighborhood). I worked really hard to find this (and then create it) in Austin, but I just couldn't make it work. But I don't want to give up on the idea. At our current rental house, we have the most amazing neighbors ever. Henry and I head over to their backyard several times a week and spend hours on end just hanging out. Henry explores and I chat. It's such a beautiful and relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Of course you can create this with neighbors (case-in-point) accidentally, but I'd like to create it intentionally.

The other day, Matt was talking about how he'd like to get a weekend house on the lake or how he'd like to find lakefront property in Austin someday. And that's when the idea hit me: Matt and I can save up $50,000 (and find others who can save $50,000 and are interested in community), pool our money, and purchase riverfront property approximately 20-25 minutes east of Austin. Then we can subdivide the land into separate lots and each build our own house at our own pace.

I have no idea how we could afford to live in our almost-built house while building another house, but I'm going to let this idea simmer in the back of my mind....



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7 comments:

E. said...

Just because you couldn't make an intentional community on your cul de sac work doesn't mean you can't make it work - I've found that by encouraging people to consider our neighborhood as an option, inviting people over, and talking about how great living here is, people are more likely to move to our area. So I wouldn't give up on the idea of an intentional community just yet - people are hesitant to try new things, but if you go first and show them how great it is to live where you are (instead of talking about moving), they may see that for themselves and consider your cul de sac when it comes time to move. You never know - you might look around in 5 years and realize you are exactly where you wanted to end up.

Sara E. Cotner said...

That's a really good point, E.! We are definitely going to put down roots in our neighborhood for several years. I don't want us to feel like we have one foot in and one foot out. We'll see how it goes...

Rach said...

You could build a Kanga house. The perfect (tiny) getaway.

Carrie said...

I definitely like E's point, and I think you are on to something with regard to your current neighbors.

We moved to the small town in which I grew up and have somewhat "lucked into" the type of community feel that you seek. The small town has a village area, where our house is located. Everyone walks, rides bikes, jogs, etc. in the village, and you end up seeing people you know, spotting people with kids the same age to say hi, seeing your first grade teacher walking past your house(true story), petting dogs along the way, etc. It's awesome.

We've become very close with one family that lives two blocks away; they have children the same age as ours. We, too, end up hanging out in their yard, or they hang out in ours, for hours on end. Yesterday, we even extended the hangout fun to my friend's parents' house (they are in the same town, too). Friend and his dad were putting up a swing set, so our older children wandered around the woods together, whacking trees and hunting "monsters" for hours. It was so relaxing! Together, our two families have hosted one (and will host more soon) backyard, impromptu BBQ and invited more families that we each know. It has been great to just have people stop on by at short notice and meet new people.

Anyway, my point being, make a great effort to make friends who live NEAR you. Heck, maybe you can all end up living in the exact same neighborhood someday, but the "intentional" part makes me think of forced friendships or something. Do you want to be real friends with the intentional neighborhood people, or do you want it to be more of just a functional, communal existence? Personally, I'd rather be sure I have the friendship part. I recall you wanting to have common space, maybe a pool, garden, etc. I think I'd want to be friends with people in advance of forming an intentional neighborhood as you will inevitably spend a great deal of time with those people. Anyway, just a some thoughts. House looks like it's coming along nicely!

Sara E. Cotner said...

That sounds so fun, Carrie! I'm interested to see how it plays out in our new neighborhood. This afternoon Henry and I went to the community pool and ran into three different families we've met in the neighborhood. So fun! Our new neighborhood will hopefully be five minutes away from Henry and Tate's school, so I'm expecting that we'll meet lots of families that way.

Lisa B said...

Where is the riverfront property east of Austin? I would love to live near water! Thanks!

Matt said...

For the lakefront vacation house what if instead of buying property and subdividing it you teamed up with other families to build a single big multi-family vacation house? I feel like so many vacation houses go wasted, only being used like 10% of the year (if that) that if you decide to go for such a thing it just makes sense to go for it in a shared way. Sure, sharing can create other headaches (different standards of cleanliness, different amount of money to put in, different upkeep skills to add) but if you can sort these out in a nice clear contract and find an initial group that is positive enough to not even really need such a contract you'll be able to realize your dream that much sooner and waste less of our worlds precious natural resources.

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