Monday 9th June 2014

by Chelsea

Not in California, but here:

Monterey cohousing

Monterey Cohousing Community. It’s in Saint Louis Park (half a mile west of the Minneapolis border, but there’s no visible delineation, it’s still full-on city). The old mansion used to be a retirement home for Christian Scientists, but now it houses eight apartments, and there are a further seven townhouses on the property. It’s set up to be an “intentional neighborhood;” not a commune, but a community. All residents are autonomous (apartments are owned separately), but you really get to know your neighbors. People are friends, everyone helps with the running of the house and grounds, there are (optional) community dinners a couple of times a week and everyone serves on committees. There’s more to read on the website, if you’re curious, and an old article here as well.

There are several units open right now, and we’re falling in love with a gorgeous three bedroom apartment on the third floor. Like I said yesterday, lots of Big Conversations are going on, but we have plenty of time to hash it all out, because the process of joining the community is a long one. We’ve been to a dinner and a meet-and-greet, Michael’s been to one Board meeting, and we spent a night in one of the guest rooms on Saturday. We got to talk to several other residents, and everyone is friendly. (And extra-enthusiastic when we mention the possibility of having kids. All of their kids have grown up, so they’re really interested in getting some younger people back in residence.)

We’re going to another dinner tomorrow night, where we’re going to discuss taking the next steps. We’d join as Associate members, sign up for a work team (I’d love to get my hands on their internet presence, so hopefully there’s room on their PR team), and get on the email list. I love that they’re so deliberate; living in close quarters, you really want to make sure you can get along with everyone. This also gives us the time to finish making the decision for real, get our finances in order for the down payment and line up a mortgage, and gives our landlords now time to find a new renter so we don’t have a big lease-breaking fee.

(Reading back over this, it kind of sounds like I’ve already made up my mind. Hmm.)

Anyway, here are a bunch of pictures. The grounds are gorgeous, but I apologize in advance for the quality of the indoor shots. It was dark in there. We’ll do better next time we get in to see the actual apartment.

Monterey cohousingThis is  the view of the house through the trees from the guest parking area.

Monterey cohousing

Monterey cohousing

Monterey cohousing

Monterey cohousingThey call this the “Oak Knoll,” out by the driveway.

Monterey cohousingThe sweetest little bench.

Monterey cohousingThe west side of the main building. The apartment we want has the three rectangular windows (though everyone has access to the little balcony on the 2nd floor).

Monterey cohousingMore gorgeous landscaping as you round the corner to the south side of the building.

Monterey cohousingThis isn’t used as the main entrance, but it’s fancy and I like it.

Monterey cohousingThe big lawn out front (dirt rectangle is where they’re experimenting with different vegetation).

Monterey cohousingA local beekeeper has settled some hives here; Mococo will get 10% of their yield in return for the real estate.

Monterey cohousingThe vegetable gardens, including both community and individual plots.

Monterey cohousingThe giant maple at the southeast corner is quite friendly, but it misses kids playing on the lawn.

Monterey cohousingThe east side of the building. Kitchen below, dancing porch above.

Monterey cohousingDown into the lovely woods behind the big house.

Monterey cohousingUp from below. It’s a steep hillside, five switchbacks to the bottom, down a woodchip lined path.

Monterey cohousingKen told us that the kids built this twig igloo. There are large rocks inside for seats.

Monterey cohousingInvasive…something. (Garlic mustard?) Pretty, but kind of disconcertingly omnipresent. They worked hard to rid the hillside of poison ivy, and now that’s done, this is the next target.

Monterey cohousingFrom behind the garage, back up to the townhouses.

Monterey cohousingThe courtyard.

Monterey cohousingPoor lonely playground.

Monterey cohousingThe north side of the building. If I’m not mistaken, the very top two windows on the right would be our bedroom.

Monterey cohousingHaving circumnavigated the property, we see the townhouses on the left.

Monterey cohousingAnd back at the west side.

Monterey cohousingThe common living room reminds me of the parlor at Columbia College.

Monterey cohousingYou can see that Michael made himself right at home.

Monterey cohousingThe big community kitchen is downstairs.

Monterey cohousingAnd the community dining room.

Monterey cohousingThe fancy dance floor on the porch.

Monterey cohousingI think the big bay window would be my favorite reading spot.

So do you guys have any thoughts? Any questions? Do you have a psychic insight you’d like to share?

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12 Responses to “Monterey”

  1. Soxanne says:

    So many Big Decisions. I’m excited for you (even tho I know you’re terrified). No matter what road you decide to take it will be wonderful because you are an amazing person – relax and enjoy!

  2. kmkat says:

    You had me at “dancing porch”.

  3. Addey says:

    I think this sounds awesome. It sounds almost like what my friends and I around here would love to do if we ever hit the lotto, except we’d be more rural and self-sufficient, somewhere between this and a real commune. LOL. I like that there’s community if you want it, privacy as you want/need but a real community that helps each other take care of the grounds/living areas/each other as needed. Yes, you must be involved in the community in some way, but, that’s a good thing, even for an introvert like me. Being involved and knowing your neighbors brings about a feeling of belonging and safety. I love the grounds.

  4. Jen says:

    I’m dying to see photos of the actual apartment you are considering. The grounds are beautiful but the concept is very foreign to me. Having lived alone for three years I’ve come to very much value my privacy. I’m also the kind that waits until dark to grab the mail or hit the deck because I prefer to be invisible, so this kind of extreme community coziness feels invasive. More often than not I don’t want to be detected when I’ve opted out of out makeup, and sometimes a bra, to run to town & hit a drive thru. I’ve likely got it all wrong (and, admittedly, the last three years have left me jaded) but all I can imagine is agreeing to live near a bunch of busy bodies. Help me understand.

    • Michael?! says:

      Jen: Here are some pictures of the unit we are going to get.
      http://www.montereycohousing.org/openings/third-floor-west-apt/

      I think the biggest draw to a community like this is you can be yourself. And you can help others and others will help you. For example, you have a plumbing problem, there’s someone in the community that knows that stuff.

      It’s nice to live somewhere that people are looking out for each other instead of, increasingly, everyone is looking out for themselves.

      Does that help? :D

      • Jen says:

        It does help! I like the pics very much. It’s an unique space and I can only imagine how you two could transform it to make it your own. The kitchen is small for baking (sad face) but the windows & views are pretty amazing. I do hope they’ll allow you two kitties. Why doesn’t everyone realize that kitties are best when they come in twos??
        Ps.. If I’m correct, this isn’t the apartment with the very special yarn nook. Is there a special place here for the yarn?

        • Michael?! says:

          Glad I could help. We might actually go canine. I’ve wanted a dog for a long time. :D

          This *is* the apartment with the yarn nook. It’s really neat and when we get another tour of it, we’ll make sure to take pictures. :)

          –stardust–

        • Chelsea says:

          Also, the kitchen in the apartment is pretty small, but I can use the giant amazing professional kitchen as well. Bake ALL the cookies!

  5. Becky! says:

    This place is amazing and i am jealous.

  6. Kala says:

    Ok, that kitchen DOES look perfect for canning…..you’re getting closer to getting my stamp of approval!

  7. Amanda says:

    I think “twigloo” definitely needs to be a word!

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