Getting a more precise idea of what it is that we are looking for

Ok, so we looked into all sorts of maps to get a better idea of where we would like to live: very useful. But other than that, are we able to provide a more precise description of what it is that we are looking for?

This question inspired me to have a look at some real estate websites, just to get a better idea of what is on the market.

Below I am posting a couple of links to buildings that are for sale. All of them have at least one or the other “no go” characteristic (and the ads will probably expire soon), but just so you can have a look if you have the time:

All this tells me two things:

  1. Finding a site might actually be easier than I thought it would be;
  2. Before we can partner up with any professional organisation (property hunter, co-housing facilitation company, …) we need to get a more precise idea of what it is that we are looking for.

IMHO this should include at least the following parameters:

  • Location: proximity to public transport, noise, air pollution, … (see maps post)

  • For potential buyers of individual units: number of bedrooms, orientation, balcony, …?

  • For the common rooms: which kind of common rooms, how do we intend to use them, how much outdoor space, …?

  • For the group’s dynamics: a minimum or maximum number of units?

Not an easy exercise, this much is sure. One thing we could maybe consider is some sort of co-housing road trip? The idea would be inspired by the Samenhuizen Reis, but just more local and with our own group: look for a couple of interesting co-housings and kindly ask whether they would have us over for a short visit, so that we can learn from them?

Anyway. Just a couple of ideas again. Hope it helps.

Cheers & happy to discuss! @alberto @Sabine_B_Frank @Malcolm @manuelpueyo and @porcarorama!

1 Like

Very good stuff, thanks @Lee.

Here are some co-living and co-housing spaces we visited in the past, with our own notes about them:

None of these is a good model for us, but re-reading them helped me focus what we do not want, and what some of the roadblocks might be.

I am totally down for this.

If I read your words correctly, the terms of partnering up would be these: we approach a real estate developer or reseller (like Cohousing Projects). The deal is: if they start a project in a building that we like, we are willing to be its first buyers, and the nucleus of its future community. Is this correct?

Partnering up could be several things in my view, depending on the stage of the project. To simply find a site for example, we have the possibility of working with a sort of property hunter agency. I did this to find my current apartment, and was very happy with this service because of the time and energy it saved me, and also because they found something that was otherwise un-findable. The deal back then was “pay 500 € for a 6 month search (minimum 10 proposals or so) + 3% of the value in case it leads to a purchase”. To start something like that however (idem for a simple ad on the website of Miss Miyagi) we need to be able to define what it is that we are looking for.

One step further down the process - once we found a site - this is where I think a company like Cohousing Projects comes in. First you need to get the money together to finance the purchase of the site and its renovation. Second you also need to know what to tell the architect: How many units? Accessible to wheelchairs? Which requirements for the common kitchen? Etc. This is why I think we still have a lot of homework to do before we can move forward.

I wouldn’t characterize Cohousing Projects as a reseller though. The way I understand it they charge a certain sum (6000 € per unit?) in exchange for a whole series of services that facilitate building up your co-housing as a group according to its values (as opposed to a real estate development project, which only aims at maximizing profits).

This to me is another reason why I’d be interested in the roadtrip. It would be interesting to see the differences in experience between e.g. Brutopia (who did everything themselves), La Montagne (who partnered up with Coarchi), old co-housings, co-housings who teamed up with Oak Tree Projects (inclusive living) etc.

1 Like

Well… they apparently finance and drive development, and sell the units that are not purchased by the initial group (unless I got it wrong, which is completely possible). This is not so different from the job of a developer.

True, it’s not completely different from what developers do, but for us it would make a world of difference. Selling the remaining units is only a side-business for them. The majority of their time is spent helping groups to build their co-housing based on consensus (values etc but also the colour of the chairs or whatnot), which is not something many a developer would be sensitive to (and probably not even the other company that is active in Brussels).

Putting on my economist’s hat, I guess they are (functionally, though maybe not culturally) a developer if they are the owners of the units until they are sold. We need that, because otherwise we need to raise 5 million ourselves, and that means selling units, something we are very not qualified to do.

Thank you @reeflings I like the idea of Leen of start documenting the Parameters . This may include physical parameters of the space like leen says: things we expect from the place. Individual units, common rooms, etc.

Humans are complicated beings and projects like this may help to meet human needs that are not tangible: for example, some people might join the project because the want to feel they belong and feel connected to the city. should we document all those ?

Maybe we can also add more “meta” project level parameters so that we are sure we are on the same page, For example:

  • what is the problem we are trying to solve?

  • ultimate impact we want to achieve?

  • constraints we are facing

  • what we do (mission)

  • why we do it

does it make sense to add them in some kind of foundational document we can all agree? maybe I am thinking to ambitious here?? , I am bad at calculating time for projects. :grinning:

As a matter of fact we already have a text that sets out how we more or less picture The Reef. It was sent in a private message by @alberto on 18 March (" The Reef: we are starting a new phase, are you still interested?"). Shall we continue to build on this one?

This is the link: The Reef – obsolete site. This text normally links to the public facing website of the Reef, but apparently that one is currently out of order for a while. If I understand it correctly this text is a wiki, so any of us can change it if they want.

To be clear though: I think there are two different things that should not be confused. One is the vision of The Reef (“minisite” text linked above, which can of course always be changed), the other is the concrete parameters which we will need to define before we can start our search (number of square meters, which neighbourhood, etc).

1 Like

I am not so interested in setting impact parameters. Why quantify this stuff? It’s our lives. It’s good when we feel happy. This might happen in ways that we cannot possibly predict now. It probably will.

What I am interested in is values. I feel we are quite aligned there, but for good measure some values are written in The Reef – obsolete site, that goes onto the website.

Hello @reeflings

just to say, I have noted this exchange and take it we will advance on the issues when we meet for dinner!

Best, Sabine

i am fine wit the text of the minisite and the [email you sent in march , as the V1 of the Vision,

By the way @alberto, just to clarify, I was not talking about quantitative goals, (maybe you interpreted that maybe when i said “ultimate impact” :upside_down_face:)

@leen agree with you on the difference between the vision and the concrete parameters to be defined,


Sure, Manuel. I was trying to make the point that here my goals are internal (happiness), not external (impact). Also, and for the same reason, my mission is unclear beyond that of generating happiness. And I like it that way, because it means flexibility and openness to discover good things we were not looking for.

1 Like

How can you be happy without considering your impact? May be this works - just don’t know how. It is probably a question of the size of context you are willing to deal with, isn’t it?

Not only that, @xaver. What I mean is this: “external impact” is in general characterized in terms of some objective measure that goes up or down because of your action. For example: “the Reef has created 2 jobs!” or “the Reef’s trees are sequestering 60 Kgs of carbon from the atmosphere”. “Internal happiness” is subjective: it is whatever makes the people in the group more content. In some cases the actions will be the same, but the reasons underpinning will be different. For example: “Ioana works in our coworking space, we are so happy she is around, and we enjoy that she enjoys the job”, or “we love sitting in the shade of the trees we are planted.”

Why that? Because we believe that intrinsic motivation is way more sustainable than the extrinsic motivation derived from watching SDG indicators go up or down. By making The Reef work for its founding group, we secure stable commitment and satisfaction. And without those, there can be no impact. So, IMHO @manuelpueyo was starting from the wrong end: let’s make sure we are happy with the Reef, or it will never get built, and what does not get built has no impact.

1 Like

I agree.