Let's face it: neighborhoods just aren't what they used to be. The close ties that were once common are now rather rare. Modern housing developments are designed to offer plenty of privacy, but almost no community. In this age of the automobile, we drive right past our neighbors' homes without ever saying "Hello," let alone becoming close friends.
Cohousing is a type of collaborative housing that attempts to overcome the alienation of modern subdivisions in which no one knows his or her neighbors, and there is no sense of community. The typical cohousing community has 20 to 30 privately-owned, single-family homes arranged in a way to encourage interaction with neighbors. It often has extensive commonly shared amenities like a common house, workshops, gardens and a greenhouse. The common house often includes a dining room and kitchen where residents prepare meals for each other on a rotating basis, a kids' playroom, guest rooms, craft room, exercise facility and meeting rooms.
Cohousing communities are designed and managed by the residents as an intentional neighborhood where people are consciously committed to living as a community. Most cohousing communities share an environmental ethic with a commitment to "living gently on the land" in terms of building eco-friendly homes, using organic gardening methods, and incorporating community recycling and composting.
This type of housing began in Denmark in the late 1960's and spread to North America in the late 1980's. There are now more than a hundred cohousing communities completed or in development across the United States and Canada.
Cohousing offers security. You can relax knowing that your neighbors are watching after the neighborhood and will be there for you in a time of need.
Cohousing offers social opportunities. You can have wonderful and meaningful interactions with your neighbors just by sitting on your porch or walking to your car.
Cohousing is a supportive place for kids to grow up. Kids not only have the opportunity to make friends with other kids but also with adults of all ages. You also know other adults in the neighborhood will be there for them in case of need.
Cohousing is a great place to collaborate with people who share similar interests. Small groups form revolving around shared common interests such as yoga, gardening, sports, music, etc.
Cohousing creates a sense of togetherness and belonging. You will be a part of something that is more intimate, supportive and a model for a better way to live.
Cohousing meals provide a way for neighbors to spend time with each other on a regular basis. The conversations at community meals are a key ingredient in building community as neighbors have the opportunity to learn about each other, hear what is going on in other lives, and discuss ideas.
Cohousing creates a way to share ownership of items. Communities often share amenities like workshops, play structures, tools, library, gardens, etc.
For more information about Cohousing, check out the Cohousing Association
You can also read the Creating Cohousing book.