Co-Housing: Not Your Grandfather's Commune

  • Modern Co-housing

    For those unfamiliar with the term, co-housing describes a kind of “intentional community” – not to be confused with a commune. In a commune all property and income is shared, but co-housing communities combine the ideals of community with a respect for privacy. The concept and first co-housing communities began in Denmark in the late 1960s as an alternative to available housing options that did not provide supportive living environments.  The idea spread to North America in the late 1980s. There are now more than a hundred co-housing communities across the U.S. Homes are usually private single family units connected by walkways and clustered around a common area or common house.  Prices tend to be on par with other area single-family homes, but living expenses are reduced by living collaboratively – sharing meals, living in buildings designed to be energy efficient, and sharing commonly owned equipment (one lawnmower per neighborhood or even a shared car). Co-housing communities usually function like condominiums with common fees, and many embrace core values that include consensus-based decision making, diversity, and environmental consciousness.  Some may also require, and most at least encourage, participation in community chores or shared meals.  Co-housing just might be a glimpse into the neighborhood of the future. Photo Credit:  qwrrty
    Tucson, Ariz.
  • Tucson, Ariz.

    At Stone Curves Co-housing community, a 1,600-sq. foot 4-bedroom home is on sale for $275,000. Along with the adobe-inspired design of the home, the 48-unit community shares a little over five acres of land in north-central Tucson. Photo Credit: Alan Stevenson
    Tucson, Ariz.
  • Tucson, Ariz.

    The unit is centrally located in the community, with new laminate floors and a private low-maintenance backyard.  Stone Curves aims to foster community by keeping units closely grouped in “villages”. Photo Credit: Alan Stevenson
    Tucson, Ariz.
  • Tucson, Ariz.

    All of the village clusters are close to a 4,000-sq. foot common house where neighbors socialize, hold meetings and, if they like, eat together. Common amenities include a living room, library, commercial kitchen, and computer lab.  There is also a community pool and spa.  Residents pay $251 monthly community dues. For more details visit www.stonecurves.org. Photo Credit: Alan Stevenson
    Clovis, Calif.
  • Clovis, Calif.

    Listed for $459,340 is a four bedroom, two bathroom home in the La Querencia Co-housing community in Northeast Fresno. The homes combine personal privacy with a community feeling.  All homes are energy efficient and feature solar panels, Energy Star appliances, exterior overhangs for shade, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and a deck made from recycled materials. Photo Credit: Fresno Co-housing Community
    Clovis, Calif.
  • Clovis, Calif.

    Shared amenities include a common house with a gourmet kitchen, kid’s play area, guest rooms, and a lounge with a fireplace. Shared meals are optional. There is also a community pool, spa, exercise room, and gardens. Photo Credit: Fresno Co-housing Community
    Clovis, Calif.
  • Clovis, Calif.

    Homes are constructed with blown-in cellulose insulation made from recycled newspaper, and the landscaping utilizes native drought-resistant plants for low maintenance.  Natural lighting keeps energy usage down as well. Fresno Co-housing has homes open for viewing every Sunday from 1-3 p.m.  For more information contact Pamela Rank at (866) 246-7717.  For details visit www.fresnoco-housing.org. Photo Credit: Fresno Co-housing Community
    Seattle, Wash.
  • Seattle, Wash.

    At Duwamish Co-housing, an urban community located about 10 minutes from downtown Seattle, a two bedroom home is on sale for $250,000. This “intentional community” with 23 units shares 2.7 acres of forested land and a set of core values that include diversity, care for the environment, neighborliness, and consensus-based decision making. Photo Credit: Nancy Carroll
    Seattle, Wash.
  • Seattle, Wash.

    The home has an open, loft-like floor plan with high vaulted ceilings, large windows and skylights, a large walk-in attic, and radiant floor heating. Photo Credit: Nancy Carroll
    Seattle, Wash.
  • Seattle, Wash.

    Residents also share a common house, wood shop, gardens, and playground. There are optional community meals, a wholesale food co-op, and craft club. Prospective buyers are expected to tour the community, interview with community members, read up on conflict and consensus-based decision making, attend two community meetings, an orientation, and complete several other steps. For details visit www.duwamishco-housing.org. Photo Credit: Nancy Carroll
    Santa Rosa, Calif.
  • Santa Rosa, Calif.

    A couple of Yulupa community members are moving to another unit and are selling their 1,064-sq. foot two bedroom unit with green design features that include radiant floor heating and double-paned windows. Photo Credit: Barbara Moulton
    Santa Rosa, Calif.
  • Santa Rosa, Calif.

    The community has 29 units with more than 50 residents who share a gym, workshop, laundry, kitchen, library, playroom, and other amenities. The home is offered at $260,000. For details visit www.yulupacoho.com. Photo Credit: Barbara Moulton
    Lafayette, Colo.
  • Lafayette, Colo.

    At Nyland Co-housing, a 2,300-sq. foot three bedroom, three bathroom home with solar power and swamp cooler is on offer for $475,000. The community is six miles from downtown Boulder, with 42 homes on 42 acres and views of the Rocky Mountains. Photo Credit:  Holly McNutt
    Lafayette, Colo.
  • Lafayette, Colo.

    The main level features an open floor plan with kitchen, dining area and living room plus two bedrooms and a full bathroom. There is also a large deck. The master suite on the top level has mountain views. Photo Credit:  Holly McNutt
    Lafayette, Colo.
  • Lafayette, Colo.

    The solar-powered common house has multiple fitness and meditation rooms, a commercial kitchen and large dining area. The community also shares a wood shop, greenhouse, play areas, community gardens, a one-acre farm. There is no interview process to join the community, but all members are expected to participate in community activities and share a committment to sustainability, environmental issues, and renewable energy. For details visit www.nylandco-housing.org Photo Credit:  Holly McNutt
    Corvallis, Ore.
  • Corvallis, Ore.

    Coho Ecovillage is a community of 34 units that shares 6.8 acres of land and a 3,000-sq. foot common house, community garden, and other amenities. A 780-sq. foot second-floor condo with two bedrooms, one bathroom and a balcony is available for $220,000 with radiant floor heat and a heat exchange ventilator that keeps utility bills very low. Photo Credit: Sue Crawford
    Corvallis, Ore.
  • Corvallis, Ore.

    The unit has a great view of the communal area, but plenty of privacy.  CoHo members place a strong emphasis on community, building relationships and the environment. For details, visit www.cohoecovillage.org. Photo Credit: Sue Crawford
    Durham, N.C.
  • Durham, N.C.

    Listed for $225,000, this detached bungalow house is part of the Eno Commons co-housing neighborhood with 22 households sharing 11.2 acres. The 1,500-sq. foot home uses a passive solar design for electricity and geothermal heating and cooling. The first floor has an open plan kitchen/dining/living area, two bedrooms, a full bathroom, and laundry services. A third bedroom, a multipurpose room, and another full bathroom are upstairs. Shared amenities include a large common house, community gardens and orchard. For details, visit enocommons.org. Photo Credit:  Wendy Kadens
    Peterborough, N.H.
  • Peterborough, N.H.

    In the Nabususit Neighborhood and Farm, a co-housing condominium community in New Hampshire, a four bedroom 1,888-sq. foot home is on sale for an asking price of $499,000. The community shares over 70 acres of farm, fields, woodlands, a pond, and riverfront. An organic farm supplies the operation and community chickens supply eggs. Photo Credit:  Clive Russ
    Peterborough, N.H.
  • Peterborough, N.H.

    The home has a full basement, multi-purpose attic, and a first floor master suite.  Monthly homeowner’s dues of $400 include heat, hot water, insurance, and all community association fees.  The buildings are constructed to LEED standards to be energy efficient Photo Credit:  Clive Russ
    Peterborough, N.H.
  • Peterborough, N.H.

    The Common House and Callie's Common form the heart of the community for twice-weekly optional meals, meetings, and planned or spontaneous events.  The Governor's House is an historic farmstead with professional office and studio space used by several residents for photography, pottery, and weaving. For details, visit www.peterboroughco-housing.org. Photo Credit:  Clive Russ
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