WHAT IS COHOUSING?
Cohousing is an intentional community, usually of 20 to 30 private homes clustered around shared space.
Each home has traditional amenities, including a private kitchen, and each household maintains independent incomes and lifestyle. Residents balance privacy and community by choosing their own level of engagement.
Shared spaces typically feature a common house, with a large kitchen and dining area, and recreational spaces. Shared outdoor space may include parking, walkways and gardens.
Community activities feature regularly-scheduled shared meals, parties, games…
Cohousing facilitates frequent interaction and close relationships with neighbours. It’s a great way for kids to grow up with a strong network of care, able to play freely in a neighbourhood of all ages that celebrates their experiences and holds their best interests in mind.
History of cohousing
Introduced in Denmark in the 1960’s, the concept appeared in North America in the early 1990’s and has since been growing in Northern Europe, Australia, the U.S. and Canada.
Cohousing communities are predicted to expand rapidly in the next few decades as individuals and families seek to live more sustainably and in community with neighbours.
In Canada, there are 14 completed communities and approximately 22 that are currently in the forming, development or construction phase.
Who is cohousing for?
Families seeking supportive environments to raise children while juggling busy work lives
The elderly as an option to avoid isolation or conventional senior housing
Single people who want a sense of community and support
The environmentally-conscious who want to reduce their footprint through collaborative living
Generations of the same family who want to live closer to each other
What are the benefits of cohousing?
Cohousing makes life easier! Essentially, we are just neighbours helping neighbours, but together we are able to offer lots of shared spaces and provide many shared resources, allowing us to live in more socially conscious and environmentally friendly ways.
Social – strong sense of community and caring combats isolation and loneliness
Inter-generational – bonding between generations is fun for everyone
Sustainability – sharing increases efficiency and decreases waste
Affordability – pooling resources cuts costs and reduces the need for individual investments
Safety – close-knit communities tend to be safe and healthy
What cohousing communities might share?
Here are only a few examples of what cohousing communities might share: guest rooms, tools, lawn mower and snow blower, toys, games and books, Internet and printers, fitness equipment, music instruments and even vehicles!
cohousing IS GREAT for families!
Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to help a parent! Cohousing is a true gift to both kids and moms/dads:
Children can walk out the door and play; friends are close by and play spaces are safe.
Shared activities encourage children to spend more time among people rather than screens.
Children learn from shared experience with mixed age groups.
Children have access to trusted adults to play, learn or do homework.
Other adults offer easy and safe child-minding options or carpooling to activities.
Communal meals mean less need to plan for your family’s meals, unless you want to!
Children learn to share and care for one another and for the environment.
COHOUSING IS GREAT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT!
Efficient use of land – cohousing provides smaller homes and higher-density development.
Fewer emissions – carpooling, cycling or vehicle sharing reduces the carbon footprint.
Energy efficiency – potential to have solar panels and other alternative sources of energy.
Eating local – communal gardens support a locally generated food source.
Better landscaping – native species require less maintenance, pesticide and water.
Temperature efficiency – shared heating/cooling units are more efficient than individual units.
Less consumerism – shared equipment means less need to purchase and own individually.
Effective waste and water management – composting and recycling (rain barrels for example)
Savings in Cohousing
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...
Less one-off purchases – access to shared resources and equipment allows individuals to decrease material possessions without impact on quality of life.
Cheaper utilities – reduced size of the individual home and townhouses or condos architectures lead to less heat consumption.
Shared meals – common dinners can save you time and money. Many communities purchase in bulk, so it's not unreasonable to have a filling dinner for $4-5 in the common house.
Activities and lessons – from yoga classes to piano lessons, either you will find a neighbour to act as the instructor or you can share the cost of an instructor with other households.
Hosting made simple – you can reserve guest rooms in the common house when family and friends come and visit you, or even book the common dining area for your birthday party.
Human resources are more readily accessible – cohousing provides an environment where the exchange of knowledge, skills, expertise and time is a common occurrence. Shared child-care and coordinated running of errands are two examples reducing the demands of daily life.
Need-it-now backup – need a tent, an extra bike, a spare iPhone charger or flour for your cake? Chances are, your neighbours can help you.
Less maintenance – when buying into a new cohousing project, your home will need much less maintenance than an older home requires. You will also share the day to day maintenance such as shovelling snow, gardening…
Market demand supports value – experience has shown that cohousing communities have excellent resale value. People are willing to pay for the added quality and community benefits.