Living in Cohousing

Mosaic Commons swingset, courtesy Diana CarrollCohousing residents like to describe their communities as “intentional neighborhoods.” The underlying desire is to have a strong sense of community with your neighbors.

Who are your neighbors

The majority of cohousing communities in the United States comprise 20 to 40 units, with other ranging from 7 to 67 homes. Cohousing attracts a wide range of household types: single people of all ages; couples; families and single parents of infants, toddlers, and school-aged children; couples whose children are grown; and retirees.

Some cohousing communities create a shared vision or ethic, but residents typically represent a variety of religious and spiritual backgrounds. Cohousing residents often want to make a difference, which can become a stated mission. Many cohousing community websites demonstrate their commitment to improving the community and the world. For example, at Sunward Cohousing near Ann Arbor, MI, the goal is to create a place “where lives are simplified, the earth is respected, diversity is welcomed, children play together in safety, and living in community with neighbors comes naturally.” Sonora Cohousing in Tucson, AZ, seeks “a diversity of backgrounds, ages and opinions, with our one shared value being the commitment to working out our problems and finding consensus solutions that satisfy all members.” Tierra Nueva Cohousing in Oceano, CA, exists “because each of us desires a greater sense of community, as well as strong interaction with and support from our neighbors.”

Is there a participation requirement

Participation ebbs and flows among individual members as their personal lives allow them to contribute more time or less time to the community. There needs to be a mutual trust among members that everyone is doing what they can at any given time. A minimum level of participation generally includes cleaning the common house or maintaining the commonly owned grounds. Participation is dependent upon the community’s needs.

What about conflict

Conflict happens. One of cohousing’s greatest strengths is the assumption that members can work out their disagreements. Most cohousing communities use consensus decision-making, which tends to satisfy most residents and give them a sense of participation on challenging issues. Some communities convene a conflict-resolution team when a particularly hot issue arises.

Because many cohousing residents are seeking a collaborative and cooperative environment, disagreements are often worked out to the satisfaction of all involved. Cohousing residents share the common goal of making their lives more enjoyable by cooperating with their neighbors.

When lying awake last night reflecting on various decisions made in cohousing and in my neighborhood community, I explored some questions about what is open and transparent in a world where everyone...
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Tags: Connecting, Tags: Group Process, Tags: Resources
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In Christmas of 2012, a year after my family moved to Belfast Cohousing...
Tags: Green
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I lived in Salina, Kansas for 31 years. Every time I left the house I ran into someone I knew, and often, knew well. Newly arrived in Burlington, I knew only my daughters and a couple of their...
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Tags: Finance, Tags: Common House, Tags: Design, Tags: Food, Meals & Recipes, Tags: Starting
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Question: We are 3 months into starting a co-housing community in western MA. We will soon be discussing how we will make group decisions. I don't think we have to reinvent the wheel on this one....
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"It is a strategy I think a community could use to jump start their program, and then talk about how to reduce the centralization after a year or more of successful meals. Since we have quite slowly...
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I asked Daniel if we could post this here because it's about a great deal more than wifi. -cat The best advice I can give around wifi is to be careful about how you talk to one another about it...
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[Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and communications professional with an MBA in sustainable management. She recently relocated to BelfastCohousing...
Tags: Design, Tags: Green
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A woman in the sociocracy discussion group at the cohousing conference asked about people who join being able to change policies. The group has a pet policy but the new person wants it changed. My...
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[Bella DePaulo's introduction: For How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century, I visited so many cohousing communities and had so much to say about them that the book just couldn...
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Tags: Children
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Architectural review policies are generally hard to write, partly because we have very different housing experiences when we move into cohousing and partly because we don't know how to talk about...
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The author (right) enjoys a visit on a neighbor’s porch thanks to its lack of barriers. My neighbor Pete and I are hanging out on his front porch when two visitors walk by on the path....
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One of the future needs for all cohousing communities is to continue generating support for CoHoUS for developing and training the next generation of cohousing leaders. Just moving in to your new...
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