What is Cohousing?

Some people call it a return to the best of small-town America. Others say it´s like a traditional village or the close-knit neighborhood where they grew up, while futurists call it an altogether new response to the social, economic and environmental realities of the 90´s. They´re all right.

Cohousing communities are mini-neighborhoods in which each household enjoys a private home along with convenient access to a "common house" with facilities such as a kitchen, a dining room, and a play room for children. There might also be guest rooms, a home office support center, a lounge/library and space for arts and crafts. Each community is different; each community decides what it wants and can afford, according to the priorities of its residents.

Each home is self-sufficient with a complete kitchen, but resident-cooked dinners are often available in the common house for those who wish to participate. Adults usually join a volunteer cooking or cleanup team once or twice a month.

Cohousing communities are designed, planned and managed with a high degree of resident participation. They often include a multigenerational mix of singles, couples, familes with children, and elders.

First started in Denmark more than 20 years ago, cohousing has recently come to the U.S. with 58 cohousing communities completed, 19 under construction and at least 130 in the planning stages

Cohousing provides personal privacy combined with the benefits of living in a community. Like neighborhoods of yesteryear, people know their neighbors and help each other out. But cohousing is not just an exercise in nostalgia—it´s about living in a way that´s appropriate for a world that has changed dramatically in a generation. It´s a world in which families have changed, women are part of the labor force, environmental concerns are on the rise, and many people are feeling overextended. The Big Time Crunch, combined with the enforced isolation of traditional housing, makes it difficult to get together with friends as often as we'd like .

Cohousing will not solve all of our problems—but it´s part of the answer. The time has come to create a better place to live, a place where we know our neighbors, a place where we can enjoy a rich sense of community and contribute to a more sustainable world.

What is cohousing

and how is it differentiated from

other kinds of Intentional Communities?

by Rob Sandelin

In my world view of this, Cohousing is different than most other kinds of Intentional Communities by the following criteria:

—Commerical bank mortgages for final financing

—Financial criteria for membership (You have to qualify with a bank for a mortgage in order to be a member, or qualify with a housing agency)

—Market resalability of homes

—Market rate housing mostly

—Involvement with design professionals to produce a intentional design

—Resident involvement in the design

These seem to be somewhat unique to cohousing. There are many other factors which cohousing shares with other kinds of communities, for example:

—Egalitarian decision making

—Limited values requirements

—Open membership

—Community center (commonhouse)

—Group meals

—Shared resources

—Private home ownership