Letter Re: Planning for Multi-Family Cohabitation

Hi Jim,
Just wanted to chime in here on the recent blog post about multi-family living. There are currently three families in our house: Five adults and and four children ranging in ages from 13 down to 6. (This includes two married couples and a single mom.) And how did all of this begin? Well the spark was friendship.  My wife and my friend’s wife were best friends and room mates. We spent all of our time at the girls apartment, going there after church, meeting there for evening outings, etc. I would get back to my apartment with just enough time to sleep before work or church the next day. Eventually I married my wife, and six months later my friend married his. We were finding ourselves staying up very late, and always, one couple would eventually drag themselves off the couch to get back to their respective dwellings. After about a year of this I suggested we find a place together, so we rented a three bedroom two car garage townhouse.  This was over 20 years ago. When I got a job offer to move to the pacific northwest, they decided to come with my wife and myself. We had a hard time finding a house to purchase that would meet our needs. We finally found a 3,500 square foot two story house on 1.5 acres, in a rural area surrounded by pasture and blueberry farms.

One of the best things about our floor plan was that it had dedicated living areas that could be converted to master bedroom/ bath combinations. They were far enough away from each other to provide privacy (one master bedroom is upstairs, the other was built into a bonus room attached to the rear of the southeast corner of the house)  we share common areas, the kitchen, living and dining room, our front school room, and an office area that housed a couple of desks, file cabinets and book cases. We added to our family when a good friend of ours went through a messy divorce and was left homeless, just her and her daughter. She moved into our school room, and we converted a set of rooms and a bathroom into a “mother-in-law” quarters. She and her daughter have their own bathroom complete with washer and dryer, and we placed a refrigerator for her foodstuffs in the pantry.

It has been a long learning curve for all of us, some of us are early risers, some of us are night owls, everyone has different dietary needs and allergies, I think we are one of the few households that actually use up Costco-sized items quickly!   We have learned to accommodate each other , and defer to one another wherever possible .
We are all of the same faith and attend the same local church, this has done more to engender unity than any other single thing in our living arrangement. We have weekly bible study groups, which include people from our local church, and that faith is the cement that really holds us together.   I like to tell people we are like the new testament church in the book of acts, having everything in common.

It is nice transportation wise as there are five cars available if one is broken down there is always a way to get a ride from someone , and there is always a sitter around if one of us wants to have a date night with his/her spouse.

Prepping as a community has its advantages also. Pooling resources we can buy in bulk at wholesale prices form place like bobs red mill, and cash and carry. Being rural we are on a well and septic, and have just finished a solar array to go completely off the grid if need be.   OPSEC and perimeter management is nice also with the instant ability to set watches and assign duties should the flag go up.

The Golden Rule really applies in living situations like ours. We all have different skill sets, that add up to a very unique and advantageous living arrangement. – C.T. in Portland, Oregon