Re: Cohousing Problems & Drawbacks
From: Elizabeth Stevenson (
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 12:41:48 -0700 (MST)
I guess one way to find out is to think of the people who have left, and
why. This got a wee bit long.

Most of it comes down to a real need for complete autonomy and/or difficulty
with the decision-making process. Some people just can't stand the annoyance
of it taking months to accomplish something they could do on their own in a
few weeks, if they didn't have to reach consensus. The people who have left
our community seem to need much more control over their everyday lives than
you can have in cohousing.

It's a bit of a judgement on the people who've left, but here goes: I also
think they are people who tend to have a difficult time seeing other
people's points of view as valid, even if they disagree. I can be very
opinionated (for anyone who's been in hibernation for the past 8 years), but
I seem to be able to separate others' opinions from my own ego long enough
to let go of things that aren't important. Some people feel that others
disagreeing with them is a rejection of their whole person, rather than a
simple opinion. Some of the people who have left were just not ready to look
at themselves more closely. I can think of one who could never take
responsibility for her own problems. It was always someone doing her wrong.

Sometimes, if you have a real passion in your life, cohousing isn't for you.
If your need for some particular physical space or activity that clashes
with cohousing is very strong, you probably need more physical and emotional
space than you can get in a cooperative living arrangement.

If you're so busy that the demands of doing your share of work in cohousing
are likely to cause conflict, you might not want to live in cohousing. Some
people have a need to be plugged into some other cause that means they're
not home long enough to really live here.

Of course, even for those of us who decide it's the only way to live, there
are challenges. We've all had to grow in order to live with other people.
There's no escaping taking a hard look at all your assumptions when the
evidence is looking you in the eye that you're wrong.

If you're a parent, you'll need to be a strong person. Sometimes, people
will question your parenting, even if they don't speak to you about it.
You'll know the look when you see it, and you'll learn to ignore it if
necessary. You'll also need to be able to hear people when they have a valid
concern. Hard work.

I guess that's enough to start.

Liz Stevenson
Southside Park Cohousing
Sacramento, California
lilbert [at]
> From: Bambi Rattner <jehush2003 [at]>
> Reply-To: Developing cohousing - collaborative housing communities
> <cohousing-l [at]>
> Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 09:57:47 -0800 (PST)
> To: cohousing-l [at]
> Subject: [C-L]_ Cohousing Problems & Drawbacks
> Hi Everyone,
> We're part of a cohousing community that will be built
> within a year or two.  We have almost all of our
> members in place, but we got a query from a potential
> new member that sent us back to thinking about why we
> value the project in the first place and about the
> potential problems of living together.  The new person
> has said that he sees our enthusiasm for cohousing but
> would like a bit more information and more of our
> thoughts about the possible drawbacks.  Many of us
> have responded with some of the fears and anxieties
> that are the flip side of our hopes and dreams, but
> most of us have not actually lived in cohousing
> before, so everything is rather hypothetical.
> We'd be grateful if those of you currently living in
> cohousing communities would respond with your own
> thoughts and experiences about some of the issues,
> problems, drawbacks, etc. of living in community.
> Thanks, 
> Bambi (Rocky Hill Cohousing, Northampton, MA)
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