Cohousing residents consciously commit to living as a community. The neighborhood’s physical design encourages both individual space and social contact. Private homes contain all the features of conventional homes, but residents also have access to extensive common facilities such as open space, courtyards, a playground, and a common house.
The cohousing idea originated in Denmark, and was promoted in the U.S. by architects Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett in the early 1980s. The Danish concept of “living community” has spread quickly. There are now hundreds of cohousing communities worldwide, expanding from Denmark into the U.S., Canada, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, and elsewhere.
In a cohousing community, you know who lives six houses down because you eat common meals together, decide how to allocate homeowners dues together, and gratefully accept a ride from them when your car is in the shop. You trust them enough to leave your 4-year-old with them. You listen to what they have to say, even if you don’t agree with them, and you sense that you, too, are heard. Cohousing strives to create a village of all ages where neighbors know and support each other.
Cohousing residents generally aspire to “improve the world, one neighborhood at a time.” Cohousing communities are places where people work together to enrich their lives and improve their surroundings.