Cohousing originated in Denmark in the 1960s and was introduced to North America by Charles Durrett (and his wife Katie!) in the 1980s. While many cohousing projects have been built in Denmark, only about 130 have been completed so far in North America. We’re going to change that.
What is Cohousing?
“Cohousing communities are small-scale neighbourhoods created with the active involvement of the residents. Neighbours know each other before move-in, are co-creators of the project, and continue to work closely together after they move in. An important aspect of living in a cohousing community is the balance between personal privacy and life in a close-knit community of neighbours. In cohousing, individual homes are privately owned or rented and are self-sufficient with a complete kitchen, dining area, bedroom, bathroom, etc. In addition, members enjoy convenient access to shared amenities, including a community-owned club house or Common House which may include a large kitchen, multi-purpose dining area, multi-media space, workshop for shared tools and bike repair, rooms for overnight friends and family, office space, a sitting area/library, healthcare treatment room(s) and laundry facilities”. (per www.cohousing.org)
There are many different types of cohousing projects – but most have the following characteristics:
- All homes have the same amenities as any other type of housing (own kitchen, bathroom, while some share laundry facilities).
- However cohousing projects have a larger than average common house amenity building. The common house will include a large gourmet kitchen and dining areas to allow residents a choice between dining at home or occasionally dining with their cohousing neighbours. The common house typically includes other amenities like gym, guest suite, children’s play room, office area, laundry area etc.
- From a legal perspective homes are condominium strata titled with a large shared strata amenity building. Residents own their unit just like any other condominium project and share the costs of the amenity building along with other strata costs. Residents are responsible for arranging their own mortgage on their unit upon purchase and use standard mortgage financing like any other condominium. Residents may sell their unit at any time.
- Projects are designed by the residents in collaboration with LiveWell. We use a workshop approach to obtain guidance from the cohousing group on unit design, common house amenities and overall site layout.
- Cohousing projects range in size from +/-15 units to a maximum of around 40 units.
- Most cohousing groups opt for designs that allow for shared open space, pedestrian walkways or a courtyard, with cars parked on the periphery. There is often a view of the common house and gathering places from each dwelling. These design elements are all intended to facilitate a strong sense of community.
This all results is a truer sense of community, where people know and support each other. Imagine that. Actually knowing and caring about your neighbours. Is that such a revolutionary concept?