Living in cohousing
From: juniperjojo (
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2006 08:23:04 -0700 (PDT)
First, let me encourage you to let go of any "ideal" you may have about 
cohousing, the sooner the better.  The *reality* of living in cohousing is 
always -- always -- different from everyone's ideal.  This can be a shock to 
the system as people move in and realize that their ideal of living in 
cohousing  is different from their neighbor's, and not infrequently leads to 
one or two families moving out soon after.
For one thing, the challenge of living in cohousing is not the same as the 
challenge of getting it built.  Getting built requires people with patience, 
vision, planning skills, and (most of all) the ability to navigate whatever 
bureaucratic hurdles are in the way.  Once you have moved in, an entirely 
different set of skills is needed.  Some people thrive on the design/build 
process, but fail to thrive on regular meetings to hash out an outdoor cat 
policy, or decide what the annual budget should be, or address the collision of 
very different parenting styles.  And vice versa; people who HATED waiting to 
get built and talking about township approval and floor plans and where 
plumbing stub-outs would be in the basement and whether or not radiant heat is 
worth the extra cost and how to design lanes for fire access that don't look 
like highways often LOVE living in cohousing.  These are the people who just 
enjoy knowing their neighbors' names and having people say hello when they 
 go to get their mail and being able to get rides to the airport or borrow 
fresh ginger and regular community events.
Living in cohousing is (to coin a phrase) hard work, and not for everyone.  But 
don't let your disappointment over it not meeting your "ideal" distract you 
from appreciating the reality.
Jenny Cook
Great Oak Cohousing
Ann Arbor, Michigan
... going on three years of living in cohousing, and still trying to decide 
whether I'd rather live alone in a cabin in the woods :)

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