About Cohousing

The cohousing idea originated in Denmark more than 30 years ago. The Danes’ concept of a “living community” has spread quickly. Worldwide, there are now hundreds of cohousing communities, expanding from Denmark into the U.S, Canada, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, and elsewhere.

In the United States there are now more than 213 cohousing communities in 38 states. For locations, see Directory.

Here’s a concise definition offered by the national organization for cohousing:

Cohousing is a type of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighborhoods. Cohousing residents are consciously committed to living as a community. The physical design encourages both social contact and individual space. Private homes contain all the features of conventional homes, but residents also have access to extensive common facilities …

— Website of Cohousing Association of the United States

Here’s another description, from Wikipedia:

A cohousing community is a type of intentional community composed of private homes with full kitchens, supplemented by extensive common facilities.

A cohousing community is planned, owned and managed by the residents, groups of people who want more interaction with their neighbours. Common facilities vary but usually include a large kitchen and dining room where residents can take turns cooking for the community. Other facilities may include a laundry, pool, child care facilities, offices, internet access, guest rooms, game room, TV room, tool room or a gym. Through spatial design and shared social and management activities, cohousing facilitates intergenerational interaction among neighbors, for the social and practical benefits. There are also economic and environmental benefits to sharing resources, space and items.

In cohousing there is a strong emphasis on creating community. Members cook and share meals in the Common House on one, two or more nights a week. Shared child care, gardening, and other activities, as well as shared governance all foster a sense of community. Generally, consensus is used as a means of decision-making. That is, the effort is made to hear all voices in the community, and to make major decisions only with the agreement of all members.

In describing New York City’s first co-housing project, an article in the New York Times magazine (November 1, 2009) said that co-housing "speaks to people who want to own an apartment but not feel shut off by it, lost in an impersonal city."

Cohousing in Northern California

For information about cohousing in the state of California, see: CalCoHo.org.

Here are links to some of the individual cohousing communities: