RE: Questions about co-housing
From: Douglas G. Larson (
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 2004 11:02:50 -0700 (PDT)
Its important to be clear about why you want to live in cohousing and
what you would like from it. When we inquired about joining Songaia
Cohousing we were required to answer that and other questions in

But even with clarity, once you are living in cohousing, things will
come up that you didn't expect, both positive and negative. 

We did two things to examine life in cohousing at Songaia. 

First, we joined the community meal program. This brought us to Songaia
for every community meal, which was 5 times per week. It gave us lots of
opportunity to talk with members over a period of several months and
also gave us one look at the work involved since once of the
requirements for the meal program was that each member cook or clean one
meal per week. So we got a good feel for cooking and cleaning up after
38 people. We did this for 4 months before joining. 

Second, we came and participated in all day work days on Saturdays twice
per month. This work varied from gardening to simple repair tasks to
cleaning and of course, gave os more opportunity to get to know and
experience working along side other people. 

Having playmates for our daughter in a safe environment was one of our
reasons for moving to cohousing as well. We generally liked what we saw.
However, after being here for four years now the parents have yet to
agree on common parenting guidelines or on what to do about children's
behaviors you don't like when you see it in children other than your

Be clear about how comfortable you are with ambiguity and not coming to
final closure about a variety of matters. Every cohousing community is
different but you may discover that some decisions can take weeks,
months or even years to complete. Some decisions will never have

Assumptions you may have about your own family autonomy may be
challenged by living in cohousing. After we moved in we fairly quickly
realized that living close to other people and having lots of children
coming and going in our household we had to take extra care to maintain
family chores, duties, rituals and day to day living. 

Douglas Larson
Songaia Cohousing,
Bothell, Washington     

Hi. I'm Laura and I live in metro Atlanta with my husband and 3 kids
(13, 9, and 4). There are two co-housing communities in Atlanta. We are
interested in both. However, we don't know anyone who lives in either

What is the best way to get a feel for how a particular co-housing
community works on a day-to-day level as an outsider looking in?
Co-housing is different from subdivision living, in that there will be
much more interaction with our neighbors. That's great because that's
one of the things that attracted me to co-housing in the first place - a
sense of community that we don't have in our current location.

As a general question, what is the best way to determine how our family
would fit into a particular co-housing community?

I am most concerned with how our kids would fit in, and whether our
parenting styles would clash with those of the other families. Questions
that are tough to answer in just a short visit to a community. 

If you moved into an established co-housing development, can you please
share how you got a feel for the place prior to making the commitment to
live there? I've considered renting for a year, but that's probably not
feasible because we don't want the headache of renting out current


Rob Sandelin

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