Cohousing communities are intentional communities, created and run by their residents. Each household has a self-contained, personal and private home but residents come together to manage their community, share activities, eat together. Cohousing is a way of combating the alienation and isolation many experience today, recreating the neighbourly support of the past. This can happen anywhere, in your street or starting a new community using empty homes or building new. Cohousing communities are often formed on a basis a principles and priorities, such as:
- The initial residents in the group contribute significantly to the design of the cohousing community and take an active role in creating the community.
- Where possible, design is used to encourage social interaction, for example by keeping cars to the periphery and putting a common house in centre of the site. However this tends to be easier with a new build rather than a conversion or in an existing street.
- Most cohousing communities have a common house, with shared facilities such as cooking and dining spaces, meeting and playing areas, laundries and guest rooms. Shared outside space for childrens’ play, parties and food growing can feature in a cohousing project.
- Residents manage their own community, looking after the maintenance and development of it, running the finances, tending the gardens, organising shared activities. Many communities eat together regularly.
- The community is governed in a non hierarchical way. All adult residents are encouraged or expected to take part in decision making. Some communities also require residents to undertake a set number of hours work for the community.
- Communities do not usually have a shared economy. They may raise money from renting their facilities to others or by running courses but they do not usually expect residents to rely on the community to provide them with a source of income.