Re: 12 Unit Cohousing - Too Small?
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Sun, 20 Sep 2020 06:20:58 -0700 (PDT)
There’s no good answer to the question of what’s the “right” size for a 
cohousing community.  At some “too large” size — over 50 households?  over 75? 
— it becomes very hard or impossible for any given resident to keep up with the 
names and stories of each individual member.  But at some “too small” size — 
under 12 households?  under 8? — there might be a problem with maintaining an 
adequate skill mix.  For instance, it’s really helpful if each cohousing 
community has at least one person with accounting skills; at least one with 
carpentry skills; at least one with formal facilitation training, and so on.

Another challenge for small communities might be stability of social dynamics.  
For example: Everyone moves in happy, but two years later, one of the 
households is in a messy divorce, and other members are starting to take sides. 
 This might blow apart a “small” community of just a few households — but in 
theory, a larger community could have many more neutral households helping to 
maintain social ballast in rough waters.

Personally, I’ve settled in on the numbers of 20 to 40 households as being in 
my comfort range.  But this is just a guess; I can’t point to any systematic 
research or evidence supporting this belief.

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing (32 households)
Cambridge, MA

mobile: 617.460.4549
email:   rpdowds [at]

> On Sep 20, 2020, at 8:26 AM, Sara Gottlieb <sara.gottlieb [at]> 
> wrote:
> Hi there,
> I live in Lake  Claire Cohousing in Atlanta, GA - a community of 12
> (actually 13) units.  We are an urban community, so I'm not sure if the
> comparison with rural/suburban/exurban communities is fair, and I've never
> lived in another cohousing community to compare for myself.
> In reading this list, I feel we have all the same joys and trials that
> other cohousing communities do. There are things I wish we would/could do
> that we don't, mainly because our members don't seem to want to put more
> energy into it vs. what they are doing in other aspects of their lives.
> This community has been thriving since it broke ground in 1996 (and it took
> 5 years to get there).  I've lived here for 9 years.
> If you want to know more, feel free to reach out.
> Sara
> -- 
> Sara J. Gottlieb
> sara.gottlieb [at]
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