Starting up with Cohousing can be puzzling for the new members, The following FAQs provides answers to most commonly asked questions in setting up a Cohousing community:
Q1. I want to start or find a group
- Search the community profiles for groups forming or existing in your area
- Host a dinner party inviting people who you would like to live near are community minded.
- Look on our various facebook pages. Say who you are and that you are interested in starting a new group or joining one in your area. List where you are interested in living. Start a facebook group for your community and post a link on the state forum.
- Host a community meeting in your local library
- When you have a few people register on the Cohousing Australia Website for a group membership and create a community profile.
Q2. Benefits & Challenges of cohousing in an urban environment
- It is hard to fit all your lifestyle aspirations in a little apartment.
- Land costs are high, that makes cohousing expensive just like other housing options.
Q3. What are the Common Elements of Cohousing communities?
Key cohousing attribute include:
- Participatory Process: Co-design and collective development model
- Private homes and communal spaces
- Neighbourhood design / circulation space to foster sense of community (& provide privacy)
- Non-hierarchical community governance and stewardship (operational control)
- An intentionality to foster community and potentially to pursue other goals collectively
Q4. Cohousing & Codesign?
Cohousing is co-designed with communities concerned about sustainable living. Projects are community led providing for end users to contribute significantly to the design of the cohousing community by taking an active role in creating not only the built form but also the community. Design is used to encourage social interaction, for example by keeping cars to the periphery and putting common areas in centre of the site.
Q5. Purpose of communal space?
Cohousing includes both the provision of private and common facilities providing a balance between privacy and community. Most cohousing communities have shared indoor and outdoor facilities such as cooking and dining spaces, meeting and play areas, food growing, laundries and guest rooms. This means that the private dwellings can be smaller as residents also have the benefit of the common facilities.
Q6. What is resident control?
Cohousing embeds collective resident control and stewardship into its legal form and decision making. Residents manage their own community, looking after the maintenance, running the finances, tending the gardens, organising shared activities and developing tools and approaches to manage community dynamics. The community is governed in a non-hierarchical way, often using consensus decision making and /or concepts such as sociocracy. This encourages people to support each other and the promotion of a community spirit.
Q7. Is cohousing a type of commune?
Cohousing communities are inclusive and part of the wider community. Most groups actively encourage open membership. People wishing to join a group will need to work out if cohousing is right for them. Cohousing groups often host wider community activities in the shared space and common house, and support wider community projects. Seldom are they insular, or secretive. Of course they are also not open to the public; like any apartment project or housing area people want a reasonable level of privacy and security. Please contact projects if you want to visit them.
Q8. What are the Benefits of Cohousing? Affordability:
The collective nature of Cohousing means when a group pools its resources, the members significantly increase their buying power. Resident-driven Cohousing has potential for greater affordability by internalising developer margins and eliminating marketing costs. Groups often want to invest in environmentally sustainable infrastructure and this can require higher capital investment. Smaller, energy efficient homes cost less to build and run. However the communal spaces also need to be collectively funded and this usually makes up the difference. Communities can organise opportunities to reduce daily living costs through shared laundries, community meals and bulk food purchasing. These all contribute to reduced cost of living and long term affordability.
Q9. What are the Benefits of Cohousing? Sustainable and environmental opportunities:
Community laundries, car share and food cooperative, reduce costs. Sharing equipment such as tools, lawnmowers and play facilities between households saves money and makes better use of them. In line with reducing ongoing costs cohousing generally has a focus on passive design for energy and water efficiencies and waste reduction, and minimise car use promote walking, cycling and public transport.
Q10. What are the Benefits of Cohousing? Better quality of life, well-being and resilience:
Loneliness, depression and social isolation are growing problems. In Cohousing, residents often meet up to eat together, chat, organise and socialise. Gardens and shared spaces are situated to encourage interaction between residents and the local community. The care and connections that are fostered in cohousing lead to a wide range of possibilities. For example, residents report avoiding prolonged hospital stays, having fun community events and spending less time on maintenance. Cohousing has the potential to keep older people active, healthy and engaged, and reduces the demand for health and social care services. Research tells us that developing strong social connections is fundamental to individual and community health and wellbeing.
Q11. What are the Benefits of Cohousing? Security and sense of safety:
In a cohousing community people do not keep a check on each other’s whereabouts, but will instinctively know if something is out of the ordinary. Cohousing design encourages shared pedestrianised walkways and car-free central shared gardens providing for passive surveillance and safe spaces for outdoor activities.
Q12. What are the Benefits of Cohousing? Independent community management:
The community decides together how things are organised; there is no external management committee. It starts from the beginning when future residents have an active say in the design of the community. This also creates a cooperation, a sense of place and ownership of issues and solutions and allows for adaptable, customised living solutions.
More information about the social, economic and environmental benefits that cohousing can deliver can be found at:
Q13. I am approaching retirement or down (right) sizing? Would cohousing work for me?
Independence and remaining connected to the community is key to our happiness as we retire. Cohousing offers an affordable and sustainable housing option for seniors who:
■ Want to reduce living costs and downsize but don’t want to move cities/towns to afford
■ Want to stay near family, friends and local services
■ Value neighbourliness but want to maintain privacy
■ Want to remain active and engaged in a community
■ Want to live somewhere stable, secure and safe
■ Want to find a way to share skills and knowledge with others
■ Want to reduce the environmental footprint of their housing.
Cohousing can take many forms, so there are types to suit everybody’s retirement vision. Some cohousing communities are intergenerational, allowing seniors to maintain connections with young people and families. Others are seniors-only, allowing residents
to enjoy a quiet retirement. Cohousing can also provide opportunities to share health
care costs—whether through a live-in carer that is shared among residents or a similar
arrangement that helps offset the costs of accessing in-home care.
Cohousing is about sharing—but you get to have a say in how much you share. It’s also about managing your own community—but you can determine how involved you get in this, too.
For more information regarding what is cohousing, please visit: