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  • Nia Hendricks

What Is Cohousing?

What Is the Concept of Cohousing?

Cohousing is an intentional form of community living where individuals or families come together to create a shared housing or amenity arrangement. The primary goal of cohousing is to foster a strong sense of community, mutual support, and shared responsibilities among its residents. At its core, cohousing is a lifestyle choice that invites connection, community, and togetherness.


Is Cohousing the Same as a Commune?

We get this question often! While cohousing and communes share some similarities, they are distinct concepts with key differences in terms of their structures, philosophies, and goals. While both cohousing and communes involve communal living, cohousing emphasizes individual ownership, a more democratic decision-making process, and a balance between shared and private spaces. Communes, on the other hand, often involve communal ownership of resources, a range of decision-making structures, and a more comprehensive commitment to shared values or ideologies.


Key Characteristics of Cohousing


Shared Spaces: 

Cohousing communities typically consist of private homes for each family or individual, along with shared communal spaces. These shared spaces may include a common house with a kitchen, dining area, and recreational spaces, as well as outdoor areas such as gardens or playgrounds. Our community at Germantown Commons of Tennessee also enjoys a shared storage and storm shelter space and a garage for storing bikes, recreational gear, and outdoor maintenance equipment.


Community Participation: 

Residents actively participate in the decision-making processes of the community. At Germantown Commons, we have established “committees” to oversee and manage different aspects of the cohousing experience. Consensus-based decision-making is often used to ensure that everyone has a voice in major decisions affecting the community.


Shared Responsibilities:

Cohousing emphasizes shared responsibilities for tasks such as maintenance, cleaning, and even some aspects of daily living. This collaborative approach aims to reduce the burden on individual households and create a more interconnected living environment.


Social Interaction:

The design of cohousing communities encourages social interaction among residents. Common spaces, communal meals, and organized activities contribute to a strong sense of community and connection.


Diverse Demographics: 

Cohousing communities often attract a diverse group of people, including families with children, singles, and older adults. This diversity adds richness to the community fabric.


Environmental Sustainability: 

Many cohousing communities prioritize sustainable living practices, such as energy-efficient design, shared resources, and eco-friendly initiatives. This aligns with the broader goal of creating a more sustainable and environmentally conscious lifestyle.


Privacy and Independence: 

While cohousing strongly emphasizes community, it also values individual privacy and independence. Residents have their own private living spaces but can choose to engage with the community as much or as little as they prefer.

Cohousing and Community Connection

One of the greatest joys of cohousing is the sense of belonging and community it fosters. Despite the increasing reality of our society becoming more and more individualistic, people are simply not meant to do life alone.  Cohousing offers a structured opportunity for neighbors to connect with and support one another, providing access to resources and amenities, while also preserving the individual owner’s autonomy.

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