What is Cohousing?
Cohousing is a way to live that brings together the best of our community and private life, where we can be independent but still have the support of our neighbours. It should, for some, sound like how our communities were “back in the day”!
But we can’t just switch back. As a society, we’re in a very different place – with advancements in technology, social media and how we communicate as a whole, plus the pace of life and the domination of cars on our roads.
Some days it can feel a bit much, and you don’t know why.
How Cohousing Works
The idea of Cohousing (Community Housing) is to live in a community where you feel acquainted with your neighbours, not isolated. It’s about creating and living in a place that supports your lifestyle while also helping you save money, live sustainably and feel less stressed in your day-to-day life. Sound too good to be true? Or maybe it’s not for you…
Cohousing is based on building communities where people can live together but still have their own space and privacy. Cohousing communities are very different from typical new housing developments. They focus on creating a supportive environment where people look after each other, and everyone has a shared responsibility for keeping the community running smoothly.
What Cohousing is Not
What it is not is a commune (especially the type you see portrayed in the media). Although there are similarities to how many great communes function, taking some of those necessary advancements and blending them with what worked “back in the day”. It also combines the wants and needs of a modern-day way of living.
You can ramp up or level out the amount of community you want to be involved with. It’s similar to being on social media – you’re either very engaged and active in the groups or with your contacts, or you dip in and out. If people know your motivation, why should there be a problem? There won’t be – that’s just one benefit of this way of living.
Community Connection and Collective Effort
Here is a great article about several different types of cohousing communities in the Netherlands and Belgium https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/02/style/cohousing-netherlands-belgium-community.html
The New York Times article highlights three main types of cohousing communities:
Inter-generational Cohousing: This type of cohousing involves a mix of different age groups, with an emphasis on fostering intergenerational connections. These communities encourage social interaction and mutual support between generations, promoting a sense of family and shared responsibility.
Senior Cohousing: These communities cater specifically to older adults who want to maintain their independence while benefiting from a supportive social environment. Senior cohousing arrangements often include shared facilities and activities, creating a strong sense of community and allowing for mutual assistance as residents age.
Ecovillages: These cohousing communities focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility. Ecovillages prioritize green living, incorporating features like renewable energy, shared gardens, and sustainable building materials. Residents often share resources, skills, and knowledge to minimize their ecological footprint and support one another in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
All of these cohousing models share an emphasis on community living, collaboration, and shared resources to improve the quality of life for their residents.
Benefits of Cohousing
From these cohousing examples, you can see it provides people with a choice. It’s also your chance to help design some elements of how your home and community life will play out. You’re the resident, so why not have a say?
It’s important to understand that when a group of people come together in this way, they are bound by way of life. For example, that could be your age, purpose, passion, interests or hobbies. So you are living with people who share a reason for being there.
Collective Efforts in Cohousing
A collective effort like cohousing creates better places to live because they are designed and managed by the people who set the future foundation of the community.
From the outset, this collective approach will address the quality of the homes. This one step can make a difference to the residents by helping reduce your monthly outgoings and creating a positive environmental impact.
Community Connections in Cohousing
Community connection means people who live like this feel supported and not isolated in their own homes. It’s a ready-made community for those last-minute emergencies or moments of need or for someone to look over the kids whilst you nip out.
The Affordability of Cohousing
But most importantly, this isn’t only for affluent people. The collective approach to doing this makes things much more affordable. Together, you can choose different ways and methods of making day-to-day life more affordable, not just the cost of acquiring your home.
For example, car sharing reduces monthly outgoings, bulk food buying minimises the number of shopping trips and offers better prices.
The First Step to Cohousing
The first step to this lifestyle choice isn’t to go and find a piece of land. Instead, it’s to change how you look at housing and community.
Conventional housing developers, or estate agents, may tell you it’s not a feasible way to live or it’s out of reach for you. But, they are working in a way that feeds into a broken system.
Looking Beyond Traditional Housing
What is required is a fresh way of looking at this, we have to abide by laws and planning policy, but cohousing works within and goes further by adding value to a local community, not just the individual homes.
It’s an outward way of looking because your values and principles align with the local community, and the people who already live there.
What can you do to improve your life and your community?
The first step is to take our 1 minute quiz. Simply answer 9 questions to see if you need a Better Place To Live.
You’ll be scored on the following; A home that meets your needs, a community and neighbourhood that works with your day-to-day life and is friendly to the earth.
Help to spread the word about Cohousing, Better Places to Live and creating A Fairer Society.
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