The Pod Life
Once upon a time, at the beginning of Shelter in Place, we settled into a home-bound rhythm in small groups of two-to-four people. Zoom augmented our connection, but this soon grew tiresome. The primal itch to be in the same physical space intensified.
In my quest to find ways to socialize in reality rather than virtually, I began inviting friends to meet on my deck, warning them to dress warmly and to bring their own blankets (given SF’s propensity for wind and fog). This has become a regular Friday evening event at my house, and it brings new meaning to the idea of the TGIF happy hour. Gathering in back yards or picnicking in city parks are now the “main events” for urbanites craving eye-to-eye contact – magnified by masking half our faces. In this SIP world, mixing it up with the same friends consistently has come to be known as establishing your “germ pod” (NYTimes Pod Article). We are, after all, social creatures whose health depends on connection.
Navigating this new reality has made me think again about the concept of buying property with friends. Since my 20s, I’ve shared the idea countless times. Everyone I talk to is supportive and enthusiastic, but there’s never any action. I know of only one group of friends that have moved forward and purchased a large parcel of land in Sonoma. When it is not rented, these friends take a break from isolation and gather in their pod to enjoy good wine, sun, and unmasked relaxation.
Another version of cooperative property purchasing is friends buying homes near one another. They live within walking distance of one another so they can hang out on each other’s decks and, when it cools down outside, they eat inside. Because of COVID restrictions “dining” can currently only happen outdoors in San Francisco and, as we all know, this town is not ideal for al fresco dining, especially in summer!
I am back to thinking how my commitment to urban living can expand to create my pod. I always have been supportive of multi-unit buildings as a great investment. Now I view these types of properties as pods of the future. Can you imagine co-owning a building with 2 units or more with your close friends? You can socialize, gather for meals, enjoy music, and be there for one another when extra help is needed. The social component is the main motivation, but the financial incentives are myriad. For starters, you’re able to pool resources to make expenses more manageable.
CoBuy is a company based in Seattle and working in the Bay Area. CoBuy, and other companies like it, have established protocols for groups of friends to buy property together. The aim is to be sure they are setting themselves up for success rather than damaging relationships. It’s a concept that Kindred SF Homes and I are passionate about. If you’re intrigued, please reach out to me or Cynthia Cummins so we can start a conversation.
As we live through and beyond this pandemic era, I hope to see more of us executing on a plan to live thoughtfully and podfully together.
Shelly Sutherland is a top San Francisco Realtor who has partnered with buyers and sellers of residential property for nearly 25 years. Explore her website at ShellySutherland.com.