What is Cohousing?
Cohousing is community intentionally designed with ample common spaces surrounded by private homes. Collaborative spaces typically include a common house with a large kitchen and dining room, laundry, and recreational areas and outdoor walkways, open space, gardens, and parking. Neighbors use these spaces to play together, cook for one another, share tools, and work collaboratively. Common property is managed and maintained by community members, providing even more opportunities for growing relationships.
Bellingham Cohousing, Bellingham WA
Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing, Seattle, WA
Doyle Street, Emeryville, CA
Frog Song Cohousing, Cotati, CA
Nevada City Cohousing, Nevada City CA
PDX Commons, Portland OR
Mountain View Cohousing, Mountain View CA
Mosaic Commons, Berlin MA
Hearthstone, Denver CO
Germantown Commons, Nashville TN
Fresno Cohousing, Fresno CA
Durham Cohousing, Durham NC
East Lake Commons, Decatur GA
Wolf Creek Lodge, Grass Valley CA
Swan's Market Cohousing, Oakland CA
Quimper Village, Port Townsend WA
Pleasant Hill Cohousing, Pleasant Hill CA
Cornerstone Village Cohousing, Cambridge MA
Temescal Commons Cohousing, Oakland CA
Mountain View Cohousing, Mountain View CA
Harmony Village, Golden CO
Cohousing is . . .
. . . a collaborative way of living that fosters connectedness, increases social capital for residents, and creates opportunities for more conscious use of social, natural and man-made resources. A more sustainable way of living.
. . . after parenting, the single greatest personal growth opportunity.
. . . a challenging task, with pitfalls (and perseverance), with laughter and hugs (or nods and drawing into oneself), with food and nurturing (or caution and health concerns), with a good measure of comfort and, especially, community.
. . . a continuous comedy.
. . . a meaningful, growthful way to live.
. . . a village of mutually supportive people, sharing work and fun and care.
. . . a way for us to be the best person we can be.
. . . a wonderful way to age in community! It is far better than any other option I've explored. I'm excited to be on this journey.
. . . a way to shrink (stuff) and grow (friends) at the same time.
. . . both momentous and ordinary.
. . . caring neighbors who choose to live together around common interests.
. . . fun, cooperative, friendly, challenging, supportive, thrifty, sometimes annoying but I love it!
. . . the future of living in harmony with others for a sustainable life!
. . . the best and the most challenging way to live.
. . . community living today with yesterday's values.
. . . both more wonderful and more difficult than I ever imagined.​
. . . an opportunity to learn and grow while creating community.
. . . a paradigm-changing life experience.
Common Characteristics
Connected Relationships
The core of cohousing is living in relationship. Being connected benefits all of us. We cultivate a culture of sharing and caring. Site layout, size and architectural features promote frequent interaction and close relationships. Most communities find 20-40 units is about the right size to know each other well.
Smaller Footprint
Human impact on our planet is a common concern in cohousing and care for our environment is a core value. Living in community, sharing resources and designing for lower energy use and greener living all help us reduce our impact on the environment.
Private Homes
We live in private homes with all the amenities we are used to, including kitchens. Our homes are designed to look out to community and to have private spaces out of view. Connecting with community is easy and natural, but not required or constant. Privacy matters too.
Common Spaces
Shared property, usually including a common house, is part of what defines cohousing. These spaces allow us to come together for shared meals, activities and celebrations as well as the collaborative work required to care for them.
Participation
We make decisions collaboratively, using processes grounded in collaborative decision making.  Taking time to work through concerns brings creative solutions that work for all of us. Managing and maintaining our common property together empowers residents, builds community, and saves money.
Shared Values
It can be hard to fully live values like green living, caring for neighbors and building community in our broader culture. Cohousing supports us in actualizing our shared values and increases the impact of our efforts.
Types Of Cohousing
Multigenerational

Most cohousing welcomes people of all ages and family structure. These communities enjoy interaction between people of different ages. Learn More

Senior

As seniors look for new ways to age in place and live the last decades of their life in health and happiness, many are reaching for cohousing. Senior communities generally require at least one member of each household to be 55 years or older. Learn More

Urban

Communities built in large cities have to be more densely built.  They tend to be made up of a single condo or apartment building. The common house is often on the first floor along with a common courtyard. Just like other cohousing, they are designed to support interaction and connection. Learn More

Rural

In rural spaces, there is room to spread out.  These communities often have more land and are likely to do more farming.  The homes, however, are still clustered together for increased interaction and connection between neighbors.  Learn More

Mission Oriented

Though less common, there are cohousing communities that share a mission beyond connection and relationship. It may be to preserve a natural area that is part of or adjacent to their property, to care for a particular segment of the population. Learn More

Retrofit
Cohousing attracts a lot of creative people and while all are informed and bolstered by what has been done before, the cohousing community includes many who find new ways of doing things.  Many of these bring elements of cohousing .  Learn More
Frequently Asked Questions
Cohousing is new to many Americans, but the concepts that led to modern cohousing have been around for thousands of years and appear in writings throughout history. The first modern cohousing community was built in Denmark in 1972. Chuck Durrett and Katie McCamant brought the idea to the US, writing a book on the topic in 1988. Find more details on our Cohousing History page.
Around the world when people learn about cohousing, they begin to envision a better life leading to a movement that includes more than 165 communities occupied in the US and about 140 in formation.
In addition to sharing large common spaces, usually including a common house, cohousers adopt a culture of sharing. Some things we share by purchasing them as a community and making them available in shared spaces. Other things we own privately and offer for the use of others. We believe in sharing what we have and borrowing what we need. Whether it is a teaspoon of salt, a crochet hook, or a pickup truck, we’re generally happy for our neighbors to use what we own and often offer expertise to go with it.  We care for one another every day in small ways, and when health or life brings crisis, we join together to give whatever support is needed. We relish the joy of giving, and embrace the security of receiving from one another.
We believe that connection with others is a core need of humans. Our communities are designed so that we cross paths with each other often. We intentionally take the time to stop and chat when we can. We choose to eat together on a regular basis, work on community projects together and play together.  In short, we make choices every day that support our relationships with our neighbors. We commit to share major assets; this requires give and take to manage collectively, bringing us closer together. We believe this makes us healthier, happier and more resilient.
Daily practices of composting and recycling combine with environmentally conscious building practices to reduce waste and energy use.  Living close together makes it easy to collaborate on recycling items not picked up by city services, sharing rides, and rehoming things we no longer need.
While appearance varies widely based on region, urban or rural location, and the preferences of the founders, there are some basic ideas that define the architectural style that is cohousing. Homes are clustered together,  leaving room for common courtyards in dense urban areas and gardens and playfields in less dense areas. Private homes are on the small side, leaving space and resources for a common house where people gather, share meals, do laundry and host guests.  Homes and common house are joined by pedestrian paths where residents pause to chat, gather to play and smile in passing. Cars are parked on the perimeter to keep interior paths safe for pedestrians. Energy efficiencies and sustainable features are designed into buildings from the start. Connected townhouses reduce winter heat loss while increasing interactions between neighbors.
In most cases, cohousing homes cost about the same as other homes in the area, yet cohousers live a life of abundance. With shared meals and activities in the common house just steps away, we drive less and save on fuel. Knowing that our neighbors probably have whatever we might need, we think less about things and more about being together. Borrowing rather than buying means we spend less money on things.
Sometimes. Most of us don’t have much experience with this kind of togetherness before we move in. Disagreements do happen. Communities that invest in good process and facilitation training find systems that work well for them. Together we embrace the challenges of so much sharing, helping each other grow into our best selves along the way.
Cohousing is about living the good life while using less of the earth’s resources, and having a good time doing it.
Katie McCamant

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