Re: Number of Adults Living in Cohousing
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 2016 07:16:32 -0800 (PST)
> On Jan 7, 2016, at 9:51 AM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]> wrote:
> PS:  I am certainly aware of singles occupying two-bedroom units, but my 
> experience is that it’s not very common to find singles in the threes or 
> fours.  Cohousers tend to live downsized compared to other American 
> households.  (I think …)

We have 2 in a one bedroom and 1 in a 3-bedroom with a full basement. 

As time goes by and prices rise, the larger units tend to be purchased by 
larger families but in the beginning, there was no relationship between the 
large and small units in terms of numbers of people living in them. One assumes 
each unit has at least one adult.

The national statistics for adults living alone show steady growth toward 
people preferring to live alone. Note that even in 1970 only 40% of households 
were married couples with children. It is now 20%.

Some highlights of a census report on household characteristics:

• Sixty-six percent of households in 2012 were family households, down from 81 
percent in 1970.

• Between 1970 and 2012, the share of households that were married couples with 
children under 18 halved from 40 percent to 20 percent.

• The proportion of one-person households increased by 10 percentage points 
between 1970 and 2012, from 17 percent to 27 percent.

• Between 1970 and 2012, the average number of people per household declined 
from 3.1 to 2.6.

This a good overview of population characteristics from the census:


Definitions used by the census in relation to households:

A household contains one or more people. Everyone living in a housing unit 
makes up a household. One of the people who owns or rents the residence is 
designated as the householder. For the purposes of exam- ining family and 
household composition, two types of households are defined: family and 

A family household has at least two members related by birth, mar- riage, or 
adoption, one of whom is the householder.

A nonfamily household can be either a person living alone or a house- holder 
who shares the housing unit only with nonrelatives—for example, boarders or 
roommates. The nonrelatives of the householder may be related to each other.

Family households are maintained by married couples or by a man or woman living 
with other relatives. Children may or may not be present. In contrast, 
nonfamily households are maintained only by men or women with no relatives at 

Own children are a subset of all children—they are the biological, step, or 
adopted child of the householder or family reference person (in the case of 
subfamilies) for the universe being considered, whether house- hold, family, or 
family group. Own children are also limited to children who have never been 
married, are under the age of 18 (unless otherwise specified), and are not 
themselves a family reference person. Foster chil- dren are not included as own 
children since they are not related to the householder.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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