What is Cohousing?
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. Neighbors also share resources like tools and lawnmowers. Cohousing is designed by its future residents, making it a unique way to build your dream home.
Households have independent incomes and private lives, but neighbors collaboratively plan and manage community activities and shared spaces. The legal structure is typically an HOA, Condo Association, or Housing Cooperative. Community activities feature regularly-scheduled shared meals, meetings, and workdays. Neighbors gather for parties, games, movies, or other events. Cohousing makes it easy to form clubs, organize child and elder care, and carpool.
There are currently 162 established cohousing communities nationally, with nearly that many in the formation stages. View a map here.
Info via www.cohousing.org
Have you ever dreamed of living in a neighborhood where neighbors know one another well, children can play and explore safely and seniors are able to age in their own homes?
Common Characteristics of Cohousing
Balancing Privacy and Community
Cohousing neighborhoods are designed for privacy as well as community.
Residents balance privacy and community by choosing their own level of engagement.
Neighbors commit to being part of a community for everyone’s mutual benefit.
Cohousing cultivates a culture of sharing and caring.
Design features and neighborhood size promote frequent interaction and close relationships.
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.
Info via www.cohousing.org
Benefits of living in Cohousing
Cohousing gives residents a unique blend of community and privacy. Households have independent incomes and private lives, but neighbors collaboratively plan and manage community activities and shared spaces. Self-management empowers residents, builds community and saves money. Cohousing provides support to families raising kids and gifts singles and older adults a supportive community setting.
Perhaps the greatest gift in cohousing is the simple daily exchanges with members that don't always get captured in photos but surely make us smile. Our lives are enriched by the ease of borrowing a cup of flour or a party dress, catching a ride to the doctor's appointment, help with a sick child or exchange of plants and recipes, help when your car won't start. Newspapers are shared, carpooling happens, camping equipment is borrowed and we even will sometimes try something new that without the support or encouragement from a neighbor, we might not have tried on our own.
According to the 2018 world happiness report there are six key contributors to happiness: income, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, trust, and generosity.
Living in a cohousing community contributes directly to at least three of these contributors (social support, trust, and generosity) and indirectly supports both freedom and life expectancy.
Raising Kids in Cohousing
You know that phrase “it takes a village”? Cohousing ABQ is based on Danish cohousing communities: People have private homes, but also share a lot of common space and resources. The way things are physically and socially designed creates the support system and sense of connection found in traditional villages. Children can walk out the door and play: friends are close by and play spaces are visible from homes, like the good ol’ days!
Coming back tired from a long day at work. You drop off your things and stop home to collect your kids, and then walk down the path to your community’s common house for a homemade meal with your neighbors. It’s the world’s most fuss-free restaurant; and you can reserve your family’s place at the table a few days in advance on that night’s meal chart.
Growing up in cohousing offers so many great opportunities for families with children:
Children are valued participants in a multi-generational village.
Cohousing provides a safe environment to play and explore. Cars are kept at the periphery.
Children can gain confidence by having freedom of movement within the neighborhood.
Other kids of all different ages are around to play--like the big old fashioned family.
Play dates don't require planning or driving. Social life in cohousing is built in.
Children can form valuable relationships with people of all ages.
Children can gain skills from trusted adults with different interests and skills.
Weekly shared meals, shared chores and resources make everyday less stressful for families.
Kids can grow up in a culture that emphasizes inclusion and treating people with respect.
Contributing to the community in meaningful and empowering ways feels fulfilling to children.
An endless stream of hand-me-downs from older kids in the community: clothes, toys, bikes...
A shared library of high-quality books and games to play.
Who wouldn’t want to have this kind of environment for their kids? It is priceless! Join us as a future neighbor!
By: Kathryn McCamant & Charles Durrett
Written by the award-winning team that wrote the original "cohousing bible" in the 1980's and first brought cohousing to North America, this fully-illustrated manual combines nuts-and-bolts practical considerations and design ideas with extensive case studies of dozens of diverse communities in Europe and North America.
"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
Feb 2019 Coming of Age in Cohousing (Curbed)
Feb 2017 Cohousing Communities Help Prevent Social Isolation (PBS News Hour)
Dec 2016 Is a Cohousing Community for You? (Sacramento Parent Magazine)
Nov 2016 Parents Rave About Cohousing Community in N California (ABC News)
Sep 2016 Modern Housing with Village Virtues (New York Times)
Dec 2015 How These Communities Save Energy - and Time for What Matters
Dec 2012 Raising Kids in Cohousing Communities (Mother Earth News)