What is Cohousing?

Ashtyn Evans

Cohousing takes place in comfortable communities where residents have a chance to build their own neighborhood with proactive participation. The idea was created in Denmark and eventually traveled to the United States in the early 1980’s. Cohousing essentially allows many families to live as a community rather than living separately in a neighborhood with people they barely know. Homes in a cohousing environment have everything that normal homes have including bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens.

Woman waving
Woman waving

Most homes are either single-family homes or attached homes. You rarely find apartments or other living structures in this kind of community. On average, most cohousing communities are home to about 40 households. Generally, you will not find a cohousing community with less than 5 or more than 70 families.

Each community is built around a central courtyard which is the center of activities for the entire community. Most cohousing courtyards have different casual meeting areas, special gathering areas for special events, kitchens, and recreational areas. Other central locations include guest rooms for visitors, a large dining area for group meals, and gardens or outdoor attractions.

Because cohousing communities have children, you will find numerous activities for the kids. For instance, most cohousing communities have their own play areas and child-based activities to enrich their social skills. Most communities have several clubs and activities to promote social events and togetherness throughout the neighborhood. It is not uncommon to hear of a cohousing community sponsoring swimming classes, drama classes, or sports leagues in the neighborhood.

Cohousing is meant to promote growth of small communities in order to foster trust and build non-familial support in social settings. Most families split up into groups and hold optional group meals throughout the week in the large dining room. Families enjoy this because they not only have a sense of belonging, but they have a good understanding of who lives near them and who is interacting with their children.

Unlike condominium-based communities, cohousing communities do not have a resident manager. The residents manage the area themselves. While there are groups to handle certain tasks, no one is paid for these specific things, and no one is generally higher up than another person. Every resident is equal and everyone has a say in how the community develops.

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