Cohousing is an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space. Each attached or single family home has traditional amenities, including a private kitchen. Shared spaces typically feature a common house, which may include a large kitchen and dining area, laundry, and recreational spaces. Shared outdoor space may include parking, walkways, open space, and gardens. Neighbours also share resources like tools and lawnmowers.
Households have independent incomes and private lives, but neighbours collaboratively plan and manage community activities and shared spaces. The legal structure is typically a Condo Association. Community activities feature regularly-scheduled shared meals, meetings, and workdays. Neighbours gather for parties, games, movies, or other events. Cohousing makes it easy to form clubs, organize child and elder care, and carpool.
Cohousing is Great for Families!
Benefits for Children
- Children can walk out the door and play: friends are close by and play spaces are visible from homes, like the good ol’ days 😉
- Play in the physical world, in person with other children
- Social learning
- All the adults in the community are known and trusted
- Shared experiences with mixed age groups and different generations together
Benefits for Parents
- No more need to administer your child’s social life!
- Optional community dinners almost every night. No need to plan and cook meals for just your family unless you want to.
- No streets and cars zooming by! Even young children can just walk out the door and play.
- Model a lifestyle of being part of community
- Friends are all around you; no need to carve out time for socializing—it’s all right here!
- Perfect balance between privacy and village life. Each household has a private home, but many resources are shared, both formally and informally.
Characteristics of Cohousing
- Neighbours commit to being part of a community for everyone’s mutual benefit.
- Cohousing cultivates a culture of sharing and caring.
- Design features and neighbourhood size (typically 20-40 homes) promote frequent interaction and close relationships.
Balancing Privacy and Community
- Cohousing neighbourhoods are designed for privacy as well as community.
- Residents balance privacy and community by choosing their own level of engagement.
- Decision making is participatory and often based on consensus.
- Self-management empowers residents, builds community, and saves money.
- Cohousing communities support residents in actualizing shared values.
- Cohousing communities typically adopt green approaches to living
In a typical neighbourhood, there aren’t many savings to quantify. Those we do calculate are typically a factor of only our own home. Cohousing is different and wonderful in this respect. The savings to a cohousing resident come in many forms…
“Cohousing is intrinsically an affordable model: one of its main purposes, outside of a strong sense of community, is limiting resource consumption by sharing resources. The savings in energy, maintenance costs, and food outweigh the apparent up-front costs due to new construction.”
– Charles Durrett, Co-author of Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities