What is Cohousing?
Cohousing is a home-ownership model commonly based on a condominium-type legal structure (although some other ownership models may be used). Members purchase their own property within the community, and also a share in the common spaces. A reserve fund is kept for maintenance and repairs etc.
Physically, communities are built to allow people to maintain their privacy within their own fully functioning unit (kitchen, bathroom(s), bedroom(s), living area), whilst fostering ongoing community engagement by means of both planned and spontaneous interactions. The main feature of the common space is the 'common house'. This is a building that typically houses a community kitchen with a dining/meeting room, workshop, guest rooms, child play areas and just about anything else that the community decides it would like to have as a shared space (e.g. gym/yoga studio, music practice room, arts and crafts studio ... the list is endless).
Community meals may be routinely scheduled in the common house along with many other events, however, it's all up to the members to decide and agree on what they want.
Why would I want to live in a cohousing community?
We are an incredibly connected society – technologically speaking, but many people still find themselves socially isolated and lacking those real-life, face to face, human interactions that we require in order to maintain our mental, emotional and often, physical health. This isolation extends across all age demographics but is particularly prevalent amongst seniors. Loneliness has recently been declared as deadly as smoking. For all adults and particularly seniors, cohousing is one way to eliminate loneliness, without having to get in a car or onto a bus and leave your home in order to seek company. In cohousing communities, companionship and healthy human interaction is (typically) right there outside your front door! In addition, because of the community model, ageing well at home is readily facilitated.
Finding safe spaces for children to play is a problem often faced by families. Somewhere that has no cars, and where access is monitored by vigilant neighbors can be hard to find. Inter-, or multi-generational communities often incorporate safe play areas, and the younger members of the community have the benefit of frequent interaction with older members. Finding a baby or child-sitter whom you know and trust is often a piece of cake for cohousing members! Growing up under the consensus model, or other similar models, tends to make for young adults who are more socially aware and considerate, and who will seek the peaceful alternative(s) for themselves and others. For families or couples facing the challenges of shift-work or frequent travel, having such close community readily on hand to offer and provide support can help ease the burden of coping alone.