What it Costs

NOTE: Earthaven is in the process of updating our foundation documents with the goal that each neighborhood will be a housing cooperative or similar entity and these residential areas will jointly share the rest of the land and common facilities through the Earthaven Home Owners Association. As part of this structural update, there will be changes to terminology, procedures, and fees. The information below will, therefore, need adjusting when the restructuring process is completed. In general, after restructuring, it is expected that a person will need about $8,000 up front to become a full member, plus costs of renting, buying, or developing a homesite and related infrastructure, plus ongoing annual fees and costs of maintenance.

There are several categories of costs, described below, followed by a list of frequently asked questions about those costs:

One-time Pre-Joining Fees:
A one-time residency fee is payable when becoming a Provisional Member and a one-time community commons fee is payable when becoming a full member.

Residential Site Fee:
Upon becoming a full member, a person must either join another member’s site or pay the site fee for their own site. In the latter case, the new member may take several years to choose their specific site. Below are the 2009 site fee amounts; the fee is adjusted up or down each year to reflect the consumer price index.

  • $21,000 for a Full Site, for up to four adults, plus any children, or
  • $12,600 for a Compact Site or a Double Common-wall Site, for up to two adults, plus any children, or
  • $10,500 for a Single Common-wall Site, for up to two adults plus any children.

There are several options for a schedule on which to pay the site fee. These joining and site fees have been raised periodically over the years.

Annual Dues and Fees:
Dues and fees are determined annually before the beginning of each fiscal year (October 1st).

  • Provisional and Full Members’ Annual Dues and Fees: $758 for 2011-12; $774 for 2010-11
  • Facilities Use Fees: Fees of $100 or $200 depending on whether you use the Hut Hamlet bathing facilities, kitchen, or both.
  • Vehicle Fee: $100 per vehicle ($50 for small vehicles—ATVs, motorcycles, golf carts).

Annual Community Service Requirement:
Full and Associate Members: 1,500 community service hours over their first 10 years; 50 hours per year minimum. Some or all of this may be paid in cash.

Provisional Members: 48 hours per quarter.

The Expenses of Clearing, Developing, and Building a Homesite:
Developing a new home site involves clearing trees* and removing brush. In most neighborhoods, it also involves building a driveway*. It involves bringing in electric power for power tools, water for concrete (footers, foundations, etc.), and other building materials. Of course there are labor costs involved with any building project.

Costs of home site development at Earthaven will range widely, depending on size and desired comfort level. Members with limited cash may build their own homes or take several years to complete construction.

Neighborhood-specific Common Infrastructure Charges:
On a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, there may be additional up‑front costs and/or charges associated with building within a given neighborhood. These are costs for (1) shared infrastructure, such as roadways, water systems, shared electrical systems, shared graywater systems, etc. and (2) ongoing operating expenses related to the shared infrastructure. It is recommended that you contact each neighborhood for specific details.

Optional: The Expenses of Building, Buying, or Renting a small dwelling in the Hut Hamlet. The new member may choose to live in the Hut Hamlet for up to five years while choosing a site and building a home in a neighborhood. People sell or rent their small Hut Hamlet dwellings to new incoming members once they no longer need them. As rent for the hut site, Hut Hamlet residents who own their own huts owe four hours of community service a month (if paid in cash, $40 a month), payable quarterly. There are additional cash and community service requirements for those who use the Hut Hamlet bathing facilities and kitchen.

*Skilled Earthaven contractors can do this for a fee.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. If I leave, do I get my Joining Fee back?
The Joining Fee is not refundable.

2. Does it cost less to live at Earthaven?
Living at Earthaven can be both less and more expensive than living in mainstream culture. While the up-front costs may be more, ongoing livings costs may be less.

Depending on the size of home you build and the materials used, it can cost more up front because bank loans aren’t available and people need to use existing funds or personal loans. Many homes here are relatively small for this reason. In general, professionally built houses at Earthaven have cost the same or less per square foot than conventional homes of similar quality.

In addition to providing for water and waste treatment, site holders need to set up their own energy infrastructure (off‑grid electric power, propane gas, etc.). This usually entails one-time costs for photovoltaic panels, batteries, an inverter, professional services, etc., which can be expensive. State and federal income tax credits for renewable energy can offset expenses of solar electric systems, solar hot water systems, and passive solar construction.

Building a very small home without electric power is one way to save money. If you choose to go in with others to build a multi-family residence, it can cost less per household. Earthaven homes must meet building codes; county building inspectors have been supportive of our using natural building materials and methods as long as we demonstrate that the buildings meets requirements for strength and safety.

Once people live here, monthly expenses tend to be lower than elsewhere (but this doesn’t include the cost of commuting if they work off-site). A passive solar home will substantially reduce heating costs.

3. Do you have to have a site, or can you rent?
Associate members do not hold a residential site, but rent their home instead. We don’t have the option for full members to rent indefinitely, as all full members must have a home site, alone or with others.

4. Can more than one member hold a site together?
Up to four adults can share a full site, and two adults can share a compact site or a common-wall site.

5. What fees are required for children?
A member’s child under 18 may live with the member without paying dues, a joining fee, or a site fee. At age 18, the child is eligible to go through the membership process. Dues, fees and community service requirements begin to apply at age 18.

6. At what point do Provisional Members pay the Joining Fee?
Members pay the joining fee during the Council meeting at which they become a Provisional Member.

7. At what point do new members pay the Site Fee?
There are several timing options.

8. What are new members paying for when they join?
They get co‑stewardship and enjoyment of the whole property and the right to help determine its future; the right to develop and build on their own home or business site; their share of all physical labor and materials costs to develop roads, bridges, and community buildings; and their share of all the years of administrative and social/cultural work of creating an intentional community.

About Earthaven’s Financial Structure:

9. What are Earthaven’s expenses?
Annual Operating Expenses: Property taxes; insurance; repair and maintenance of community buildings, roads, bridges, equipment; promotions; administrative costs of committees (such as office equipment and supplies, printing, photocopies, postage, food for workers in work parties, and any paid services); and services from independent contractors for administrative, bookkeeping, and legal, and accounting work.
One-time Expenses (Capital Expenditures): Clearing land; building new buildings, roads, bridges, power systems; improving/remodeling old ones; buying new equipment; repaying debts for infrastructure built by members on Earthaven’s behalf.

10. What are Earthaven’s sources of income?
Non-recurring income sources are new members’ Joining Fees and Site Fees, whether paid up front or over time. Recurring annual income comes from monthly dues and fees from non-member residents; all members’ annual dues and fees; fees from special events; agricultural lease fees; electricity sales; and grants and donations.

11. What did the property cost?
We paid approximately $588,000 total for our 329 acres, including interest.

12. If Earthaven disbanded as a community, would the property be sold and the profits divvied up equally between all members?
The Land Use and Common Rights Agreement (LUCRA) of Earthaven Association requires that if we disbanded as a community and sold the property we’d set aside 1% of the proceeds to go to a new ecovillage effort. The portion of the sale income derived from the land value would be divided among all site holders according to fractional ratios of their site holdings (full, compact, or common-wall sites) and the amount they originally paid as Site Fees. All the rest of the proceeds, from the value of common buildings, bridges, equipment, and other assets, would be divided equally among the members.

13. What kind of legal entity does Earthaven use to own its property and assets?
A homeowners association, which is a particular kind of a nonprofit corporation, used most often for housing developments.