Handling finances in a large shared living situation (e.g. coliving)

Phil Levin
Dec 18, 2017 · 6 min read

A few people requested this, so figure I’d throw it up on the Mediums.

Who is this for?

This is a practical how-to guide on the finance mechanics for large shared living situations.

Target audience: Anyone who operates or is considering starting a shared living situation with 6+ people, e.g. intentional community / coliving / cohousing.

This covers a masterlease scenario, where the residents lease from an external landlord rather than own themselves. Finances for owned property are trickier.

Design principles: Practicality, simplicity, agency, and avoiding having to think about money.

Context / credentials

RGB is a 11-person intentional community in Hayes Valley, San Francisco. We live in a former gold rush era mansion on Haight St. We got started in late 2015. The first year was hard, but now all of the systems are in place and everything runs smoothly.

House colors

Credentials: We are totally solvent.

Base principles of finances at RGB

What we spend money on

Monthly house expenditure per person: Volatile, but roughly averages to $245

$245 may feel like a lot on top of rent, but members report this is actually a money saver for them. Abundant food, house events and bulk-purchased supplies means fewer restaurants, bars and convenience store toilet paper trips. Almost all of us spend less than we did before joining the community.

A few notes:

House accounts:

Account for your house funds separately to know what is “safe to spend’ and what’s already spoken for

Process: Collecting and disbursing funds

Setting rent:

Things we screwed up (and then fixed):

How does your community do it?

Let us know in the comments.

And I’m happy to share our spreadsheet that does the calculations above. Just PM me.

Phil Levin

Written by

Likes thinking about how new mobility tech changes our built environment.