Cohousing Developments Grow Nationwide

January 23, 2018

The number of cohousing communities is on the rise across the country and is spotlighting the desire for greater multigenerational neighborhoods. There are currently about 165 such communities but another 140 are in the planning stages, according to the Cohousing Association of the U.S.

In these communities, people own their own homes and can sell them. Residents contribute to a fund for maintaining shared facilities.

A development called Pioneer Valley Cohousing Community in Amherst, Mass., features 32 units on 23 acres of farmland that is designed for all ages. They live in a village-like setting. For some homeowners, this is a chance to live closer to their aging parents.

One of the hallmarks of cohousing is that it features clusters of houses or living spaces around shared public areas. A common house or space becomes a place where residents may meet for meals or activities together. The homes in the community are often connected to the common house with paths.

Cohousing communities are usually governed by homeowners’ associations.

“I know all of my neighbors. If I need to borrow some eggs, I know which houses I can go to where they’ll probably have eggs,” says Karin Hoskin, executive director of the Cohousing Association of the United States and a resident of Wild Sage, a cohousing community in Boulder, Colo. “If they’re not home, there is a good chance I’ll have a key to their house. It’s really reminiscent of old-fashioned neighborhoods.”

The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., is noting a recent “boom in cohousing communities nationwide,” as featured in its current exhibition.

But cohousing isn’t for everyone. 

“Some people feel that cohousing is too much togetherness,” Bella DePaulo, author of How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century, told The New York Times. “People immediately think communes, but cohousing is not a commune where everyone lives under one roof.”

Senior cohousing is offering an alternative to retirement homes.

“It’s definitely a good aging-in-place or downsizing model for people in their 50s and early 60s who still have quite a bit of life ahead of them, but want to move out of the old family house because they want less maintenance,” Jim Leach, founder of Silver Sage Village, a cohousing community geared mostly toward seniors in Boulder, Colo., told The New York Times.

Source: “There’s Community and Consensus. But It’s No Commune,” The New York Times (Jan. 20, 2018)