Cohousing is coming to Manchester, Richmond, according to Richmond BizSense, so it has officially peaked my interest. As someone who loves to socialize while maintaining my independence, I was drawn to the idea of owning a private living space in a close knit community.  

Neighbors in cohousing communities watch out for one another and step in to help when unforeseen circumstances arise. Recently I experienced an injury that has changed my whole outlook on the importance of having a network of people to rely on. It got me thinking, would this be something I would want to be a part of some day?

Cohousing can be like a big family, but like a big family you can’t pick who you are related to (aka who your neighbors are). I wanted to understand what exactly cohousing is, the pros and cons, and who is it for?

What is cohousing? Cohousing is a group of people who agree to invest in a plot of land together to build their individual homes as well as common spaces. Most cohousing communities have a common goal in mind such as living eco-friendly, minimalistic, or eating organic by maintaining a community garden. Residents typically share meals anywhere from one to five times a week in the communal housing space through potlucks or a decided schedule of volunteers.

Who would this work best for? If you are someone who harkens back to a time where you knew who your neighbors were, your children would play on the street together and you attended town halls then cohousing may be for you. It is simply for people who are interested in building a community. Residents of cohousing communities do not need to share ideologies, but are simply willing to participate in a community. Retirees, singles, couples and even families with young children are all important contributing members to a working cohousing community.

What are the benefits? With cohousing you get a network of support through your neighbors. With unexpected tragedy, illness or injury you always have a close group of people ready to bring meals to your home and take care of you. It is an opportunity to bring back trust in a community. Feel comfortable leaving your kids with your neighbor. Eat meals multiple times a week in the common house. Experience plenty of privacy along with the feeling of belonging and support

What are the cons? As a member of cohousing you are part of a group decision-making process. Cohousing communities are self-governed which means residents need to agree to a consensus before proceeding with any plans that could affect the group. This can lead to frustrations as you realize just how much you love your opinion.

Where are they located? Richmond Cohousing is currently building a four-story, 19-unit condo housing with the shared living space in the entrance of the building. Right now there are over 150 cohousing communities in the United States, but they were originally popularized in Switzerland.

Check out this video by Rewire to hear from residents in a cohousing community. Would you live in a cohousing community?  

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