Re: Reluctant Cohousers
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Wed, 24 Dec 2014 14:15:17 -0800 (PST)
Hello Maggie!

Congrats on beginning your cohousing adventure.

These objections are sometimes just fears of the unknown.  Cohousing now has 
quite a track record so educating oneself is a whole lot easier than i the 
“early days.”  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

The very best action to take to dispel fears is to visit other built cohousing 
communities.  If you haven’t done this already … do plan a Road Trip to 
communities in British Columbia.   Nothing like reality to answers 

How affordable is cohousing?   In dollars … my experience is it’s about the 
same as whatever neighborhood in which you are located.  Maybe a little less 
expensive.  But what I get for my dollars far exceeds what I could buy on my 
own.  To wit, in terms of shared resources … on my own, I wouldn’t have a tenth 
of what I have in my community:  very large space in the CH for parties, 
events, work related events.  A LR w/ a big screen TV, guest rooms so I don’t 
have to own an extra bedroom, an office, laundry facilities, a work shop, hot 
tub, etc. etc. etc.  In terms of social resources … priceless.  A power 
wheelchair rider, I could live independently on my own but it would be so much 
harder.  I would spend all my waking hours just maintaining my physical self.  
In cohousing, the support of neighbors results in hours I can spend giving back 
to the community.  It’s all reciprocal.  A never ending celtic knot of giving 
and receiving.

Just to build on something Jerry alluded to in his email  … Sometimes we hear a 
few people voicing concerns and think it’s pervasive.  Don’t get distracted and 
go down a rabbit hole trying to make this process so “safe” for everyone that 
you get diverted and trapped.  Helping people understand that each of them will 
have the same say in the organizing, building and running of the community will 
help dispel fears.  Distinguishing between perceived risk and real risk helps 
keep things in perspective and rooted in reality.

Your intention is to build on 20 acres.  What size community are you 
considering?  How many units?  Attached?  Detached?  Knowing some of this will 
dispel some fears of some people.  How you construct your condo documents —what 
you call Strata in Canada — will mitigate many others.

As a reference point, here at Takoma Village in Washington, DC we are 43 
households on 1.43 acres — a very dense, urban development of stacked 1 to 4 BR 
units.  If one homeowner has a leak … we all have a leak.  Twenty acres is 
enough for 15 of our cohousing communities!!!    I like the close knit nature 
of our built and social environment.   Happily. there are many cohousing 
communities of many types to serve all who seek.

Of course, there are always issues in cohousing — we’re just people trying out 
something different.  We come with all the same warts and baggage as the rest 
of humanity.  We aren’t special.  We aren’t saints.  We aren’t anything except 
the same bi-pedal carbon-based life forms found in every other community.  We 
just have an idea about living together and are willing to try it out.

In the beginning … look for the “pioneers”  — folks with a greater tolerance 
for risks.  But don’t dismiss the “settlers” — you will need them for 

Good luck to you.  Let us know how you progress.

BTW — you have one of the great architects of cohousing in Canada right in BC, 
no?  Ronaye Matthew.

Best --

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church VA

On Dec 23, 2014, at 1:17 PM, Maggie Dutton <maggiedutton [at]> wrote:

> We are part of a core group called Aldermuir, with an option on 20 acres in
> Qualicum Beach, British Columbia.
> We find when talking to people that a number of objections (sometimes
> misconceptions) to living in cohousing come up over and over.
> It would be great to hear from folks now living in a cohousing community
> who had some of these concerns but went ahead.  Perhaps your spouse was the
> one that was keen and you went along.
> Stories of how it worked out for you after moving in would be so great to
> help us overcome some of these objections.
> Objections like:
>   - ·       I like my privacy too much
>   - ·       Strata Horror Stories
>   - ·       Concerned about getting along with so many people
>   - ·       Don’t like anyone telling me what to do
>   - ·       Like lots of space around my place
>   - ·       Could not stand having that many people around
>   - ·       How affordable can it be when you have to pay a share of the
>   common house too
>   - ·       We need to move sooner than spring 2017
> Perhaps the last two are deal breakers.  Any sharing of experiences will be
> a big help as we talk to people about cohousing.
> Maggie Dutton.

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