Pleasant Hill Cohousing
(Central Contra Costa County, California)

Is Cohousing Right For Me?

Cohousing is not for everyone. Many people don't want to make the adjustments necessary to live in a community. Therefore, it's important that you think carefully about whether it's a good fit for you. Here are some questions and thoughts to ponder, collected from a variety of sources.

The following text was borrowed liberally from Nyland Cohousing in Boulder, Colorado, with permission.

1) I make decisions based on the sustainability of the community and I am willing to let go of some short-term personal preferences for the long-term best interests of the community as a whole.

2) I look for things to celebrate and people to acknowledge.

3) I hold myself accountable for cleaning up my messes when I make promises and break them.

4) I am basically a happy person.

5) I am able to remain "civil" when disagreeing and recognize that on some issues in cohousing it is necessary to agree to disagree.

2) I have time to spend at least 4 hours per month doing work for the community and additional time serving on a committee.

4) I would be at ease having the community discuss and approve any changes I would like to make to the exterior of my home or private lot.

5) I enjoy seeing my neighbors as I come and go, continually meeting new people and putting energy into growing my relationships.

6) I believe in taking full responsibility for the issues my pets, my dogs, my children, and my personal actions may cause others.

7) I enjoy community gatherings such as holiday brunches, movie nights, volleyball games, sharing circles, etc. I am willing to pitch-in and help make these activities happen.

8) I work through conflicts in a constructive manner.

These comments are from a post on the Women for Living in Community Blog

You Like Meetings
If you get involved with a forming cohousing group, be prepared for lots of meetings anywhere from monthly to weekly. Meetings are an essential component of cohousing because creating one of these communities is an egalitarian, participatory process where future residents make decisions together as a group. The beauty of this collaborative decision making process is that you have an active say in the development of your neighborhood including both, the physical design of the community, and the social agreements for living together after move-in. Ask yourself if you’ll enjoy and/or are willing to participate in meetings for typically two to three years from conception to move-in and then bi-monthly after you move in.

You’re Willing to Share Leadership
Making decisions as a group requires strong communication and group process skills. Typically, several members of the forming group get trained early on to effectively facilitate and lead meetings. If you’re interested in learning these skills you will be a valuable member of the cohousing group and these skills are applicable in other aspects of your life (e.g. your work or spiritual community). Many cohousing neighborhoods use egalitarian consensus decision-making to ensure that all opinions are heard in a discussion. Rather than having a single dominant leader, cohousing group process is more based on the Quaker belief that ‘”everyone has a piece of the truth.”

You’re Comfortable Expressing Your Feelings
Since so many issues are discussed during the development stage of cohousing and after move-in, residents find that sharing personal feelings leads to self-discovery. A favorite quote sourced to Zev Paiss, founding Executive Director of the Cohousing Association of the U.S. captures this well:

“Cohousing is the longest and most expensive personal growth workshop you will ever take.”

These next points are from an article on

Is Cohousing Right for You?

Cohousing is ideal for those looking to bridge the gap between owning a home of their own, and living in a supportive and interactive community they can help grow. But there are a few questions you need to ask yourself before taking the plunge:

Do you want to get involved in programs in your community on a regular basis?

If the idea of sharing a few meals with neighbors thrills your small town sensibilities, you’ll probably enjoy living in an intentional community. Remember that you’ll also be expected to join committees and volunteer, or pay someone else, to tend to the grounds and common space. But if you resent the idea of having structured chores or sharing your life with neighbors, this lifestyle might not be for you. Instead, try volunteering in your own neighborhood and get more involved at your leisure.

Do you want to know your neighbors, their children, and become a part of their lives?

Just as in a traditional neighborhood, not everyone in an intentional community will get along, but you’ll be expected to find a way to peacefully co-exist. Is it intrusive to you when a neighbor comes by for a few eggs or with an invitation to stop by for a glass of wine? If you value exclusive privacy, you might want to stick to traditional living.

Do you enjoy seeing children roaming free in your community and playing together with minimal supervision?

Every parent wants her children to have a safe place to play and grow up. While cohousers give their children age-appropriate supervision as any other parent, the community is designed to foster play throughout the common grounds. So if looking out the window with your morning coffee and seeing children riding bikes and giggling on a Saturday leaves you feeling irritable, cohousing might not be for you.

Do you prefer making decisions for the greater good of your community?

Cohousing relies on group consensus and regular meetings to resolve issues and move forward on projects. And you may lose out on the vote for the new landscaping you wanted or tools for the community center’s workshop. While you may not like every decision made, you’ll need to respect your neighbors and committee leaders. If the thought of losing control or watching someone else take the reigns unnerves you, you’re probably better off in traditional housing.

These questions are from a cohousing Meetup group in Massachusetts

Is Cohousing for Me?

Joining a cohousing group is a major life decision: You commit to participate actively with other members of your group in the design and development of your future home and community over a period of years, to be involved in the cooperative management of the community after it’s occupied, and to make a financial investment on the scale of conventional home ownership. In return, you look forward to a quality of community that is rarely seen, the support of neighbors who know you and look out for you, and the use of common facilities such as dining, child care, gardening, workshops, etc.

Questions to ask yourself

  • What do I find attractive about the concept of living in a cohousing community?
  • What do I feel about making all major decisions (and maybe minor ones) about where I live with other people?
  • How much time do I have outside work/family/hobbies?
  • What balance between privacy and community is right for me?
  • Can I cope with disagreements?
  • Can I cope with sometimes not being allowed to do things I want (e.g., keep some kinds of pets/numbers of cars/some kinds of activities)?

Lastly, these questions are from LaQuerencia Cohousing in Fresno, CA.

Are We a Match?

  1. Do you like the idea of getting to know your neighbors as friends and lending them a hand when they could use some help?
  2. Are you willing to forego a garage attached to your house--walking instead from a central parking area--in order to have a pedestrian friendly/car free neighborhood?
  3. Would you enjoy participating in periodic community workdays to keep our common areas tidy and well maintained?
  4. Are you comfortable with houses clustered together, in order to protect more community open space?
  5. Do you want to be part of a community dedicated to reducing its environmental impact?
  6. Do you like the idea of weekly community dinners?
  7. Do you like a quiet day at home followed by a spontaneous BBQ, dessert, movie or swim party with neighbors?
  8. Do you like gardening side by side with your neighbors and sharing the bounty at a community or home cooked meal?
  9. Do you like nourishing body and soul with good food, good health, and good company?
  10. Do you like living mindfully in community, encouraging wisdom, compassion and interpersonal growth?
  11. Do you like experiencing stylish, thoughtfully designed interior living?
  12. Would you like to share inviting outdoor spaces such as gardens, courtyards, decks, patios and views?

That should give you a flavor of what to think about. Please feel free to share any thoughts or concerns with us when you visit.

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