I am lonely.
I live in the bay area, a sprawling metropolitan area that contains almost 7 million people. There are eighty-one units in my housing complex. And yet I somehow still feel isolated amongst the vast sea of people that fill my view.
I know I am not alone in this feeling. In the public discourse, the loss of community in our generation is almost cliche, but that doesn't make it any less real. Some people yearn for the "small town" intimacy or the bar where "everyone knows your name." For many of my generation who never lived in a small town, our closest analog is the college dorm or fraternity. We reminisce fondly about the times we could just walk into a neighbor's room, sit on his floor and procrastinate together. Now, the twenty-minute drive to see that old friend feels like a thousand miles, insurmountable without a "good reason" or a meal-centric event of some kind.
So how do we regain a sense of community? Well, there is a small, 19 home co-housing community being developed in Mountain View. The idea is to have a group of individual homes share both a large communal space (in this case, a 4000 sqft common house) and a desire to view each other as family. Communal dinners and events would be expected but not required. it sounds great, but unfortunately, the development (due to be completed in 2013) is also a bit out of our price range. Plus, one of the things that really made the college experience work was that we were all at the same stage of life with similar needs and wants. The Mountain View housing community is currently made up of the people with the time and money to undergo such an endeavor, namely people over 55.
So what's plan B? The housing market sucks (if you own a house like I do). Prices are low, and inventory is high. In fact, in my complex of 81 houses, there are five units for sale. Thus, the silver lining. If our friends bought those five houses, we could have our own little housing community. For reference, the cost is roughly half the cost of the co-housing community in Mountain View. We could even buy an extra house and use it as a shared space if necessary. It's still cheaper.
So, if you're thinking about buying a house and want a great house with a great developing community, check out the houses in my complex like this one. Make my dreams come true.