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What is Cohousing?

The concept of Cohousing was introduced in Denmark in the early ‘70’s as a deliberate attempt to move away from the “suburban” environment of large, single-family houses with their own fenced in yards. The idea is to create a village where everyone knows each other and everyone interacts nearly every day. Over the last 30+ years, cohousing has become common across Europe and is rapidly being introduced to the U.S.

What kind of folks live in cohousing?

Although they may vary in size, interests and demographics, there are some generic elements to any cohousing community.

  • A neighborhood ranging from 20 to 40 households, small enough to insure that you know everyone well, but large enough that privacy is available when needed.
  • A large “common house” and lots of common land where the community can share resources and spend time together. Workshops, gardens, children’s play areas and guestrooms are commonly seen shared resources.
  • Small houses – with a large common house, you need less space for just yourself.
  • Clustered houses, often town houses or row houses, to insure that it’s no effort to visit each other, or to wander down to the community center.
  • Pedestrian-only walkways within the community. Parking tends to be clustered at the edge of the community; both reducing the amount of paved area and encouraging people to visit on their way to their car.
  • Shared meals, usually dinners, encourage interaction within the community, allow for shared resources (including time), and makes people’s lives a little easier.

For those interested in environmentalism, the combination of clustered housing, attached wall housing, shared resources, and an emphasis on green space within the community, means that this type of neighborhood is very “green”.