If you remember borrowing a cup of sugar from your neighbor or having the kids play out front as people slowly drove home from work, then you’re probably nostalgic for a past era, but as with everything, the old eventually makes its way around again.
Many people are focused on advancing society and improving communities but there is something nostalgic and comforting about having that welcome sign on the door and a friendly way from your neighbors every day. Because of this, cohousing communities are becoming more popular, combining the advantages of private homes with the benefits of more sustainable living.
Sharing common facilities is connecting neighbors across the country according to the Cohousing Association of the United States. These are intentionally master-planned communities, created and managed by the residents providing a fantastic solution to these environmental and social challenges.
Cohousing is a type of collaborative housing where residents actively participate in the operation of their own neighborhoods. Unlike an HOA, residents are consciously committed to living as a community, taking a bandage of the physical design that encourages both social contact an individual space.
Each home offers all of the design functions of conventional homes but, residents also have access to common facilities such as playgrounds and open spaces. There are six defining characteristics of cohousing:
The participatory process – this allows future residents to participate in the design of the community to meet their needs.
Design of the neighborhood – the physical and orientation of the buildings and site plan encourage a sense of community. Homes are clustered around a central common area leaving more shared open space where dwellings typically face each other across the courtyard.
Common facilities – these are designed for daily use as an integral part of the community. They might include a common area kitchen and dining room, children’s playground, laundry facility or workshop.
Resident managed – residents manage their own community housing and perform much of the work required to maintain the landscape and property.
Non-hierarchal structure and design – no one person has the authority over the others, I like a condo or homeowners association. Most groups start with one or two residents and as group expands, more and more people take on different roles consistent with their skills and abilities.
No shared community economy – community is not for profit source of income for its members. Communities and individuals could pay their residents to do specific work as all are considered to be contributions to the shared responsibilities.
Currently, there are nearly 100 operating communities in the United States and more than 100 others in the planning phases. While it might sound like a controlled compound, sense of community is really offering everyone the responsibility to take care of not only themselves but everyone else with shared tasks and priorities.
If this sounds like something you might be interested in, give us a call. Would like to point you to some communities it may be in our area or offer tips and insights on new communities popping up throughout DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia.