Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What type of housing will be offered?
A: Most of the residential dwellings will be apartments, units and townhouses which are more suitable for suburban locations close to the city. However the SUV model can also work for individual housing where other economic and social factors stack up.
Q: Will Smart Urban Villages be available to residents to lease and/or buy?
A: Our current and default model offers residents long-term leases, that are provided via 5 or 10 year rental agreements which makes them effectively perpetual; so residents can still live in what feels like their own house, yet without the need for a mortgage or lock-in. For some sites, we may consider offering some dwellings for sale. If you are at all interested in leasing or buying in a Smart Urban Villages community, please express an interest so we can keep you up to date.
Q: What locations are the current focus of Smart Urban Villages?
A: Australia is the initial focus. We have begun discussions regarding two sites in Melbourne, one in Sydney and two in Canberra, however we are open to hearing from those elsewhere. Please tell us where you are when you register to stay in touch. We cannot say much more about the Melbourne sites right now. We will let everyone on our newsletter list know once we have finalised the first location. We are also investigating sites in other cities.
Q: Will each dwelling (apartment, unit or townhouse) have their own rooms, kitchen, bathrooms etc?
A: Yes, each dwelling will be self-contained and fully equipped. However residents also have access to the wide array of community facilities, so you get much more than just living in an isolated housing estate or complex.
Q: Who can put their hand up to live in a Smart Urban Community?
A: Anyone. The community is not based on family size, affluence or culinary preferences... In fact our experience suggests the more diversity there in a community - the stronger it is, so we encourage differences, mixes of ages, skills, interests and passions.
Q: What will be the typical size of an SUV community?
A: The sites will typically be built on 2000 sqm to 10,000 sqm of land. They could be developed on existing housing sites, open land or old commercial/industrial sites.
Q: How many people will live in a Smart Urban Villages' community?
A: The typical number of people in a community will range from 40 to 100, in around 20 to 50 dwellings. This will allow people know each-other within each community and provide a good amount of diversity. This follows an often quoted maximum number of 150 people, for enabling strong social groups. For more on "Dunbar's Number" see http://bit.ly/DunbarTED
Multiple SUV communities can exist side by side, yet each would have its own identity and community facilities.
Q: Where will Smart Urban Villages (SUV) communities be located in the world?
A: Wherever there is demand in the world. By expressing interest, we will get in touch with you and ask where you would prefer a community to be built. e.g. Toronto Canada, Sydney Australia, Los Angeles USA, Wembley UK… basically anywhere, near a city centre and public transport - so typically within about 15km of an economic centre, where communities can be supported by quality transport links and public/essential services. If you are curious, please express your interest now and state your preferred locations for such communities. Our clever demand tracker, will show us where interest is the greatest so we can focus on those cities first.
Q: How much will it cost to live in a Smart Urban Village community?
A: The cost to lease (rent) a home in an SUV community, will be similar to renting a new dwelling, in that area. In addition, like other communities with extra common facilities, a small levy will required to maintain the community facilities – for example pool cleaning, lawn mowing, hall repairs and caretaker (labour). So they will comparable to other rates in the area, but residents should save a lot more in the medium and long-term, due to all the shared facilities and equipment. Also, renters won't need to pay mortgage interest to the bank.
The savings will also come from:
a. operational costs that are lower, because the buildings will be more sustainable and cheaper to operate. Residents will also be able to avoid toxic materials and have fresher air, so they can expect fewer trips to the doctor!
b. sharing – resident won't all need a lawnmower, pool, gym or car each. For example, as such assets will be available for shared community use, saving residents thousands on rarely-used appliances and equipment.
c. being close to public transport and essential services.
Q: What is different between SUV developments and other so called "eco-friendly" developments?
A: Smart Urban Communities are private homes in a medium density setting, with additional access to a range of high quality community facilities that residents can use if and when they wish. The differences and benefits include:
1 Better and smoother operation:
Unlike cohousing or bodies corporate, a professional caretaker body manages the infrastructure, administration and maintenance, so residents don't have to worry about things being maintained appropriately or spend hours in meetings as volunteers discussing administrative options.
2 Aligned interests:
SUV is different to a standard housing developer, because it will complete the development and then also be involved afterwards, to support the community and help it flourish, by taking care of the things using professional tradespeople or management. SUV will also listen to community members and build what they would prefer, instead of building standard generic housing.
Shared meals are a common feature of cohousing estates, and some ecovillages and SUV will support communities to share occasional meals too, based on demand.
Shared assets such as a community hall, large community kitchen and perhaps gym etc will also resident to 'pay for less but have more'.
That is, whilst each apartment will be self-contained and fully equipped, residents will have to option to use other assets if they wish. For example, the community hall for a birthday party or the guest room for visitors.
This combination of features is unique and provides the opportunity for residents to gain a much higher quality of life and live in a healthier environment.
4. Long term leases
Smart Urban Communities contain dwellings that can be rented for the long-term e.g. 5 years or much more. This is unlike other new properties that must be purchased outright with a mortgage or compared with short lease terms which need to be continually renegotiated. Indeed we encourage residents to stay for as long as they like, as this makes communities stronger. The leases will still allow residents to leave whenever they like and no exit fees will apply.
5. Eco friendly:
Smart Urban Communities are far more sustainable than transitional housing, using non-toxic materials, renewable energy and passive solar design principles, to name just a few features. Unlike ad-hoc communities, SUVs design will also be independently certified so we know they will be warm in winter and cool in summer.
6. Private housing:
Smart Urban Communities offer homes designed, built and priced to suit anyone and not a specific market class or segment. They are not classed as affordable or social or public housing.
Q: Who is Smart Urban Villages?
A: Smart Urban Villages Pty Ltd is a company that was registered in Australia in March 2015. It operates from Melbourne currently. It was founded by Ben and Rolf based on years of research. They are supported by private investors and several industry advisors. See the About page for details.
Q: What community facilities, assets or services will be in SUV communities?
A: Each community will differ in size and location so the types of common facilities will differ as well, however each one will include at least five of these options:
- Community Halls and Dining area
- Community Library
- Community Kitchen, to commercial standard.
- Guest rooms for visitors or travellers, friends and family
- Community garden
- Food coop
- Retail facilities such as a café
- Spaces for residents to rent for their small businesses
- Online community portal (email list and profile system for event notifications etc)
- Extra storage space for rent
- Car share system
- Shared air conditioning/heating systems
- Shared renewable power e.g. solar photovoltaics
Having such extra space e.g. large kitchen in the community centre and guest rooms means individual homes don't have to be as big. For example, if you wanted to host a dinner party, you could just use the community kitchen and hall; or if a relative or friend came to visit, they could just stay in the guest room (bed and breakfast style accommodation for short term occasional guests). By having one less bedroom in a large house/apartment, residents could save hundreds of dollars per week.
If you have more questions, please contact us via our enquiry form.
You may also be interested in:
- Ben O'Callaghan presenting at National 2015 Green Cities Conference under Announcements
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- THE AGE & SMH analyse Smart Urban Villages' groundbreaking "lease not buy model" under Announcements
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- Ben O'Callaghan under Team
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