Raintree Fountain and sculptor, Robert Cole

What Is Cohousing?

Often described as "the old-fashioned community of the future," cohousing provides residents a new kind of balance between personal privacy and living amidst people who know and care about each other. This small-scale, mainstream, neighborhood design overcomes the alienation of modern housing complexes in which knowing one's neighbors is rare and there is little sense of community. Cohousing is characterized by private home ownership.

Private dwellings are clustered around a "Common House" (similar to a community room or building found in most housing developments) which may include a dining room, play rooms, workshops, sitting areas or library. Residents of cohousing communities often have several optional community-wide meals in the Common House each week prepared on a volunteer basis by the residents themselves.

Cohousing neighborhoods come in all flavors of construction: rehab, retrofit, renovation and new construction. They are built in urban, suburban and rural settings and range in price scale from subsidized to exclusive. They range in size from as few as eight households to as many as 50. Cohousing communities follow no ideology. In any community you may find the politically conservative and liberal, lawyers, teachers, '60's folks, home-schoolers, accountants, dentists, families, singles, and seniors all residing happily in a neighborhood they helped design!

This type of housing began in Denmark in the late 1960's, and spread to North America in the late 1980s via the book by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett called "CoHousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves." There are now several hundred cohousing communities completed or in development across the United States and Canada.

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