Cohousing or shared living has become one of the first options for many people when seeking an alternative to the bustle of contemporary cities. The cohousing communities are often a part of the planning and designing process as they share the common spaces like gardens, laundry, dining, guest rooms etc. The residents are responsible for maintaining these spaces by sharing the tasks and ensure that the community runs smoothly. Being part of a cohousing community offers both social and economic benefits and presents the opportunity to be part of a community where neighbors take care of each other.
Often, at the first glance, cohousing can be seen as an expensive investment but it offers economic saving in the long-term with access to a full range of facilities that are more common in larger, luxurious houses (Belk C.,2006). Costs on transportation, childcare, common rooms, workspaces, food storage and many other essential necessities are shared in these communities. With all these savings, the cost of cohousing can offset. Residents often share the services like babysitting, child care, helping with events and other activities within themselves which in turn further reduces the need for financial outgoings. (Village Resources Cohousing Consultants)
Cohousing improves social relationships based on trust, care and generosity among the neighbors. This generates stronger bonds, familiarity and proximity that are usually seen to be lacking in a speculative housing. Sharing meals, childcare, peer support, counselors, communal celebrations add to the relationship of the cohousers and brings further closeness in the community. The elderly and people with special needs benefit from the ‘semi-sheltered’ nature of cohousing neighborhoods. (“What Is Cohousing? | Oxford Cohousing”)
Environmental awareness is a subject of great value within the cohousing community. Community members try to make an impact on the society by carrying out many sustainability projects like tree planting, car sharing schemes, provision of bicycle lanes, water saving and recycling. By bringing together and sharing innovative and eco-friendly initiatives, these communities help to mitigate current environmental and social issues. The carbon footprint is also substantially lowered and a study in the US shows that the cohousers use upto 60% less energy in their houses and have living spaces that are 30% smaller than the national average. (“What Is Cohousing? | Oxford Cohousing”)
However, living in cohousing isn’t for everyone and for some people, the amount of work involved in communal living and the investment of their private time for attending meetings and taking care of common areas is a deal-breaker whereas these communities become a haven for those who crave for a close-knit colony where the surrounding community forms a part of day-to-day life. (Livingston, A.) By offering a chance to understand and know their neighbors and enjoy living as a community with friends, cohousing instills a sense of togetherness and strengthens the social bonds within society.
“What Is Cohousing? | Oxford Cohousing”. Oxfordcohousing.org.uk. Web. 20 May 2017.
Charles L. Belk, 2006. Cohousing Communities: A Sustainable Approach to Housing Development. Available at: https://extension.ucdavis.edu/sites/default/files/co_housing.pdf
“Cohousing Benefits- Village Resources Cohousing Consultants |”. Cohousingconsultants.com, Web. 20 May 2017.
Available at : http://cohousingconsultants.com/why-cohousing/
Livingston, Amy. “Communal Living & Cohousing – Types & Benefits Of Intentional Communities”. Moneycrashers.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 20 May 2017. Available at : http://www.moneycrashers.com/communal-living-cohousing-types-benefits-intentional-communities/
Economic, Social, and Environmental Benefits, Available at: http://www.teach.center/benefits/
Environmental and Social benefits,Available at: http://biosynthetic.com/environmental