By Raines Cohen, 2018 National Cohousing Open House Day Coordinator
Curious about cohousing? Want to see what it's really like? Compare communities? Get inspired? Now's your chance.
It's that time again! National Cohousing Open House Day is tomorrow, Sunday, April 29, 2018.
We've got over 60 cohousing neighborhoods across the country participating this year, plus a few on alternate dates this or next week; one community is offering an online virtual tour.
While communities with homes for sale and some others regularly host tours and open houses, for most of us living in cohousing, everyday life is about living our lives, enjoying our private homes and shared community connections, so we don't welcome unscheduled visits. Without someone to give you context and make introductions, seeing the architecture won't give you a lot of insight into community life.
For Open House Day, though, we're stepping up and making the commitment, as part of a larger movement, to say, "join us!" While there are not openings for rent or sale at every community, just having the opportunity to meet people and imagine living there can help you build the relationship that could lead to the opportunity you're looking for.
Here's some highlights worth exploring, wherever you are planning to call home:
- Boulder, Colorado: Three communities within a mile of each other are open during similar extended afternoon hours so you could walk or bike between them. One community, designed for aging, has three members planning to move within a year, so you could potentially buy in together with friends
- In North Carolina's Research Triangle, nine different communities, established and forming, will be open. One forming community, Village Hearth, will have an info table at a nearby established community's Common House, in addition to doing its own site tours.
- In the San Francisco Bay Area, a regional umbrella group has been coordinating hours between several Oakland/Berkeley/Emeryville communities to make a full day of it, and is offering a guided van tour that includes stops at a cohousing-style tiny home ecovillage and a nomadic community where members live in buses, and then ends up at a BBQ. One forming group will be present at open houses for three different established communities in the area.
- Several communities are hosting kids' activities, providing refreshments, or organizing other fun activities for all. Check our list for details.
Some tips when visiting:
- Remember that you are visiting private homes and Common Houses that are opening up by choice, not because they have to. Always be respectful and appreciative, and respectful to only enter designated spaces at listed times. Keep in mind that often just one or two members are hosting the open house, and the rest of the community wants to just go on with life as usual.
- Wear comfortable shoes, especially for visiting unbuilt sites or groups with homes under construction; in some homes, you may have to remove your shoes to go inside.
- If bringing kids along, they are your responsibility -- none of the communities listing with us are offering childcare. We have had visitors to my home community who assume that when their kids run off and play that other kids or parents will look after them, but this is generally not the case.
- Don't bring pets without advance arrangements. We've had folks show up with critters and get surprised by issues of allergies and triggering reactions from other animals and people around.
- Read up in advance on the communities you are visiting, from our Directory and/or their websites, so that you can avoid repeating the same-old boring questions and use your time to learn what matters for you.
- Always ask before taking pictures, especially of people, and especially of kids.
- Pay close attention to signs and instructions from your hosts about where to park and what spaces/homes are open.
- Talk to other community seekers you meet, perhaps you could join them in forming something new!
Check out the list, and make sure you're up-to-date (there have been a few last-minute time changes and cancellations, as well as several additions in the past few days). Bring along some friends and/or family. And get out there and explore!