Creating Cohousing

Mosaic Commons Site Design, by Laura FitchCohousing can be urban, suburban, or rural. A key feature of a community is its flexibility to the needs and values of its residents and characteristics of the site. Most cohousing groups make development and design decisions by consensus, and forge a strong partnership with their professional development team. Because residents design the community themselves, they feel a connection to the land and each other before the physical community is even built.

How a dream becomes reality

Cohousing communities begin with a vision. Future residents soon forge strong ties with one another and develop a sense of community as they work together to organize the group, make effective decisions, and build and grow their cohousing neighborhood. Members of forming groups must decide, “What do we want our cohousing community to look like?” Once a vision is agreed upon, future residents develop the project by finding a building site, designing the community, working through the local governmental approval process, hiring and managing construction professionals and cohousing consultants, and incorporating maximum sustainability principles. Group members will also need to make decisions about the financial realities of their project, including financing options, ownership structures, and project management, that is, keeping the project on track and on budget. The process of turning a cohousing dream into reality is challenging, but the ultimate reward is an innovative and collaborative community to call home.

What does cohousing look like

Most cohousing communities are designed to be compact. Cohousing communities consist of private, fully-equipped dwellings and extensive common amenities including recreation areas and a common house. Many neighborhoods are planned to keep cars to the periphery, which promotes interacting with neighbors and increases safety for playing children. Shared green space is also a key feature – whether for gardening, playing, or socializing. A final key feature is the common house – the “living room” of the community. Cohousing communities depend on cooperation and collaboration, from start to finish.

Residents work together to create a custom-built, resident-managed, close-knit neighborhood that offers a healthy balance of privacy and community. It takes a long time to build a cohousing community, but the process is worth it!

Want to know what other communities have done? You can find examples in our Policy Database, including the collection of Useful Documents done by Laura Fitch and others in December of 2011. To...
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This summary has been created by the Affordable Cohousing Task Group of The Cohousing Association of the United States (CohoUS). It is intended to be a resource for existing and forming cohousing...
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Report: In January 2010, the Cohousing Association of the United States (COHO/US) chartered an Affordable Cohousing Task Group. The purpose was to address the need for more affordable units in...
Tags: Affordability, Tags: Finance
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Many professionals are interested in providing services to forming groups and existing communities. Coho/US does not screen Other Professional listings. Professionals demonstrating cohousing...
Tags: Connecting, Tags: Design, Tags: Developing, Tags: Group Process
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There are some terrific books for people working to create communities. Here are some of them: Amazon.com Widgets If you can't see the Amazon widget above, try turning adblock off for this...
Tags: books
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Cohousing-L is an email discussion list on all aspects of cohousing -- development, design, move-in, organizing work, community life, governance, finances, legal questions, etc. Many cohousing...
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Useful Documents shared by existing and forming communities The purpose of this compilation is to provide a simple way for forming and existing cohousing (and other intentional) communities to...
Tags: Resources
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The first steps in creating a new cohousing community don’t need to be abstract, circular or ambiguous. One of cohousing’s sages updates his worthwhile advice on where a new forming group should...
Tags: Starting
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Chuck Durrett, who along with Katie McCamant, brought cohousing to the US, joined us for a WebChat on cohousing design and the process he uses to design a community. The theme of the evening was "...
Tags: Design
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Coho US has gone international with this interesting WebChat about cohousing in Berlin, Germany. Michael LaFond, and architect raising in the US who lives and works in Germany, shared his...
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With forming communities wanting to be as diverse as possible, the topic of Housing Segregation and its Impact on Cohousing couldn't be more important. Crystal's recent WebChat describes the history...
Tags: Diversity
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Last week's webchat with architect Grace Kim was full of useful information. Whether you are already using your common house or are in the design phase, taking time to think about acoustics and...
Tags: Design
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Retrofit Cohousing Is there another way to create cohousing? Many of our wonderful cohousing communities have been built on a foundation of member investment with a great deal of support from...
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Shelly Parks of Covision Consulting joined us for her first WebChat and took us through the basics of shifting new members from explorer status to full member status. She explained the stages from...
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I started Fair Oaks EcoHousing because I want to live in a friendly community where neighbors know and care about each other. I think we need more neighborhoods like that! 1. It was Love at...
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There’s a funny thing about cohousing. When you look at typical cohousing marketing, you see messages about what it is like to live in community: private homes, shared common space, know your...
Tags: Marketing
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Hiring Professionals to Get Your Community Built WebChat #8 brought one of the most experienced cohousing professionals in the US to us for a discussion of facilitators and architects and...
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Cohousing community members begin with some basic assumptions. We expect to do some downsizing. We know we will be sharing space and will need to make some comprises about how we use that space. We...
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There are a lot of good reasons to hire professional help in cohousing. From areas of focused study like architecture and relationship skills, to the wisdom gained through experience working with...
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For most families it is easy to imagine the benefits of sharing a cohousing community with other families with kids the same age. Naturally the kids will play together, the parents will have peers...
Tags: Children, Tags: Connecting, Tags: Diversity
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For any forming cohousing community, finding a building site is a big event. Skagit Cohousing is especially blessed to find land nurtured for the past 30 years by Ann and Bill Testerman. After...
Tags: Developing, Tags: Stories
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Thanks to Yana Ludwig for an excellent WebChat introduction to consensus. You can read a short summary below and see the full session at this link: https://youtu.be/Uvbia2QJjEk Yana gave us a...
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From the first thought of really living in cohousing, an essential requirement is being able to depend on each other to share the work. It's a collaborative effort and requires all hands on deck. If...
Tags: Work
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The following question was asked on a WebChat on Oct 18, 2018. We didn’t have time to answer it there, so Karen is offering the answer here. Question: Is there a way to get folks who are...
Tags: Connecting, Tags: Consensus, Tags: Facilitation, Tags: Group Process
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FADE IN: INT. COHOUSING CONFERENCE ROOM, DAY Are you starting a cohousing community and want to know where to start? Do you live in an existing community, and want to revisit your mission?...
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DON’t GIVE UP THE DREAM - IT JUST MIGHT PAY OFF The seed of cohousing along the Willamette River in Eugene was planted in 2011. Oakleigh Meadow, LLC incorporated in 2012 . With design...
Tags: Developing, Tags: Legal, Tags: Stories
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Building Cohousing To Do List: Find Land, Invite New Members, Plan (another) Info Meeting, Hire Architect . . . For those creative and industrious people who are birthing brand new cohousing...
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[Part of the Session “How to Grow a Senior Cohousing Community,” presented at the Aging Better Together Cohousing Conference, May 2016 in Salt Lake City.] Pat and David have told you the story of...
Tags: Developing, Tags: Finance
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What shall we discuss as we are forming our communities? Every forming community (I hope!) asks this question and communities that have already moved in give lots of different answers. Many of those...
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Imagine you have been a member of a forming cohousing group for several months now, and you have just joined the circle for a big decision-making meeting about the vision and future of this community...
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