Cohousing: could you do it?(11 Posts)
Could you live in a cohousing community?
The main idea behind cohousing is that it is an ‘intentional community’, where the people who are going to be living on a development get to know each and other and work together to design the place they want to live and the houses they will live in. People continue to contribute to the community after moving in, doing communal chores, and there is an understanding that everyone there wants to know their neighbours and support each other.
In terms of physical structure, in cohousing while everyone has their own private house, they also have access to a common house and common garden. Optional group meals several nights a week, and potentially access to things like workshop, gym, music room, guest rooms, possibility to share rather than own and store things used infrequently.
It’s a common concept in Denmark, where about 5% of the population live in cohousing. In the last couple of decades they’ve been created in the US and UK as well.
Would it appeal to you? Or is this your idea of a nightmare?
Posted too soon
Have asked MNHQ to move this if relevant.
No I wouldn't do it, purely because that's not how it would work. I understand the theory & applaud it but there would always be that neighbour who upset everyone else or people would start arguments about the communal stuff not being available/someone hogging said item. Also peoples' lives & needs change & its natural for a group of people to start out with shared ideas but then to splinter away from the group which would create dischord in such a community.
I have family in Denmark & the culture can be very different, just because something works there doesn't mean it would work here, if it did then we would be knee deep in public sex and adult swimming sessions...
Nope, not media request. I'm interested in cohousing and wondered what people thought.
Here's a bump for you then
The ideology is sound, its when you involve actual people it would start to not work.
I like the idea in principle but it relies very heavily on everyone being on the same page. So everyone buys into a democratic and pragmatic way of doing things, doesn't put their own needs at the forefront, is very understanding (and not at all resentful) if some members are unable to fulfil their obligations etc. The wheels usually come off because people factionalise and the whole thing descends into recriminations (I have some experience of reporting on these sorts of set-ups). When they work, they work beautifully but you have to be super-chilled and conversely super-motivated/organised to have a successful community, in my observations.
Personally, much as I like the idea, I want to be able to do my own thing - whether that's design my own house along my own lines or pull my drawbridge up for a time - so I'm not suited to it.
I saw that happen in rented accomodations and find it fantastic in this perspective, coop renting appartement block (it probably has a better name but I don't know/remember it). There are a few like this where I live and they are saught after and have long waiting lists. People can hop in when they feel it suits their needs and leave when their lifestyle changes. As a rental it sounds great.
But as owned property, I'm not sure I'd be interested. It feels too permanent. Also Upkeeping my own home is lots of work, no sure I'd want to take care of more property related stuff.
I love the idea but approach the reality with some caution. I've visited various groups- established and in progress and am on the mailing lists of a few!
For me, the main driver is the benefit to the kids: growing up with other kids and having space, outside and inside.
What I have found is that there is often a huge emphasis on green issues and a lot- though not all- of the groups have one or more fairly hardline activists. I do have sympathy with green issues but I do have other, more pressing (for me) priorities and I wouldn't want to feel like I was being judged for using a car regularly or relying on planes to convey stock for my small business. Essentially, I'm not sure if they will be "my people" and obviously that's the main consideration.
I think in places like Denmark (though maybe not Christiania!), the communities are less alternative because cohousing is more "normal". Here, it's still quite a fringe thing to do...maybe a few years hence it'll be a little more mainstream. I like to think I'm not especially conventional (don't we all!) but when I see cohousing inhabitants variously describe themselves as "a shaman", healer, herbalist, anti- vaxxer etc etc I feel that I wouldn't fit in and that perhaps the movement needs time to mature in this country!
I joined Mumsnet to post this message because I see a lot of people who have no direct experience with cohousing giving it a bad rap in response to your question. Not that I begrudge anyone their opinion on the topic - cohousing is certainly not for everyone! - but I thought another point of view should be represented.
I'm currently a member of a cohousing community in Vancouver, Canada, but we have not moved in yet. My wife and I joined about two years ago just after our daughter was born. Our group has bought the land for our building, but we're still in the rezoning process. We figure construction will be complete sometime in early 2019.
I have nothing but good things to say about cohousing! No, I have not moved in yet but I have become very close with the members of my new community (we average four meetings and one social event each month). Yes there are people with whom I don't mesh perfectly. Of course. But this is NOT a reason to shun forging a closer connection with one's neighbours and that is the driving force at the heart of cohousing.
There are three things that work in your favour as a member of a cohousing community to counteract what seems to be most people's biggest fear: in short "What if I tie myself to these people and they turn out to be jerks?". The first is what I call pre-filtering. Cohousing is a lot of work and a big leap of faith. People don't get involved unless they are on board with the idea of working together and putting the good of the community first. The second is the development process itself (the process I'm currently involved in). I can tell you from experience that the process of collaborating on a piece of major construction that is also your future home is a long, difficult, and often emotionally fraught undertaking. Over the last two years I have become closer to the members of this group than I am to most members of my own family. By the time we move in together, we practically will be family. Whatever personality conflicts we may have will be well-trodden territory by then. The third is simply my belief - backed up by experience - that most people, when given a little compassion and understanding, will opt for cooperation over conflict.
Finally, I'd like to mention that the best thing about cohousing isn't what you get out of it - it's what you put into it. It's not a hotel that offers some empty list of amenities - it's a community where the work, and the deep, meaningful relationships forged in that time spent helping your neighbour is the whole point. Even when it's messy. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard, because that's when you learn the most about yourself.
I've joined too, like dashamstyr, to support the concept of cohousing. I agree with everything she's said! Cohousing is alive, well and growing in the UK and there are groups to suit all tastes. Sure there are the 'hippie' style communities, but there are also some fantastic 'mainstream' groups of families who simply see the benefit of sharing, both time and facilities, including play facilities for children. Lots of info on the UK Cohousing Network website for anyone interested in finding out more.
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