Here is what people living in cohousing communities in Denmark and the US have to say about the experience.

Denmark

“Cohousing is not such a radical idea; it’s a better way to live, but it does require a little extra effort to make it happen.”

“Our dinner system has functioned perfectly from the beginning.  We get a good and varied diet.  Everyone’s ideas and gastronomic abilities can be tried – with varying success, of course.  But it functions well and we eat cheaply.”

“It’s not the practical advantages of living in cohousing that are most important to me.  It’s the sense of belonging, a real home; I need the community as a safe harbour to come home to after a trying day.  What I like about cohousing is that I can choose to use it when I want it – it’s there when you need it, but not forced on you.”

 

“I think it functions fantastically well – not without problems, but with problems that I would much rather deal with than those one has in an ordinary isolated house.”

“When we announced our plans to sell our house and move into a cohousing community my parents thought we were crazy.  My mother assumed it would be only temporary and that in a short time we would miss our old house.  But once they came to visit, attended a common dinner, and talked to the other people here, they began to understand why we wanted to live like this.  Now they’re talking with their friends about building a cohousing community. “

“A community can in many situations give better help than an institution; but the large community, society must supply the safety net.”

“People in cohousing tend to be very honest with each other.  In my old house when a neighbour asked to borrow a tool, I felt obliged to lend it, even if I felt uncomfortable doing so.  In what might be a rare contact, I didn’t want to appear unneighbourly.  Here if someone wasn’t to talk or have coffee, or borrow a tool, and I don’t feel like it, I don’t hesitate to say no.  They know me, and there is less likelihood that they wll be affronted by my honesty.  In fact it’s sort of a sign of intimacy to be able to say no.”

“It’s through the activities in the common house that we get to know each other and are able to keep in touch.  And that carries over to outside, adding life to the street scene.”

“The beauty of cohousing is that you have a private life and a community life, but only as much of each as you want.”

“At some points of the development process, there were certainly people who played a larger role and the rest of us followed their lead.  But at other times, other talents are needed.  It all seems to balance out.”

“At move in time, the group was out of energy and needing just to settle in, but the common house still needed to be programmed and completed,  Tell people to make sure their common house is finished and ready to use before they move.”

US experience

“I loved living in the wilderness for a few years, but as a writer, I’m home by myself a lot.  I started to feel so isolated.  I like the thought that I’ll be able to wander out during the day and see people I know.”

UK cohousing network

“We know that cohousing is of mounting interest to older people in Britain from the volume of enquiries we receive from individuals seeking a group to join or advice about forming a group where they can collaborate in an active and companionable old age.  And we are aware that the values cohousing stands for – privacy combined with active community and resident control and autonomy – are sought after by a far wider section of the older population that those familiar with the term ‘cohousing’.”

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