Care and Community: The Benefits of Cohousing

beautiful-mother-with-little-kids-Y46Z2VW.jpg

For people of all ages, cohousing presents benefits and value beyond just shared spaces. In the last year, we’ve been seeing several in-depth articles that explore the benefits of cohousing for people of different demographics. While their goals may be different, the ways in which cohousing has benefited them is similar. Here are three articles that resonated with us.

COMING OF AGE IN COHOUSING

In a recent article from Curbed, Kathryn McCamant (founder of 500 Communities and mentor to our own Lynn Gaffney) and her daughter, Jessie Durrett, shared their experiences, raising children and growing up in a cohousing community.

Durrett is part of the first generation—potentially 1,000 strong—to spend its formative childhood years in cohousing communities. Twenty-five years into this grand experiment, what are the benefits to the kids who grew up in and among them? An informal survey and a handful of in-depth interviews reveal that coming of age in a cohousing community has wide-ranging and long-term impacts.

COHOUSING PROVIDES PERFECT BALANCE OF PRIVACY AND COMMUNITY

Earlier this spring, Electric City Magazine published a piece on Kawartha Commons, highlighting benefits from shared resources to shared experiences.

Cohousing residents share space in the large common house in rooms such as a media centre, crafts room, quiet space, guest suites, library, large kitchen and dining area for eating and socializing.

“They share meals, laughs and stories that make us human,” Tracy [Sorril] says.

Residents still own private homes but gain access to the communal shared space. Tracy says co-housing is a community by consensus.

Why now? The issue is a timely one. “Home life has changed, women are integral in the labour force, resource limitations and environmental concerns are on the rise and many people feel over-extended.

THERE’S COMMUNITY AND CONSENSUS. BUT IT’S NO COMMUNE.

The New York Times looked at the benefits to older adults, with an article in their “Retiring” column.

“People immediately think communes, but cohousing is not a commune where everyone lives under one roof,” Dr. DePaulo said.

For aging hippies and baby boomers, however, dedicated senior cohousing offers an alternative to a retirement home.

“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,” said Jim Leach, 77, a founder of Silver Sage Village, a cohousing community of mostly seniors in Boulder.

Community living can also be a balm for the documented isolation and loneliness plaguing older Americans, which researchers say threatens public health. 

What about cohousing resonates with you? Leave us a comment to share your thoughts.