What is Co-housing?

Co-housing Communities offer great family neighborhoods owned and managed by the residents themselves-ideal places in which to raise children or grow older. In fact, elder co-housing, a new but growing trend in the co-housing movement, offers seniors an appealing alternative to retirement Communities.


In co-housing Communities people live in smaller-than-normal housing units, often in two-story townhouse-style dwellings, and share common ownership of a large "common house" with kitchen, dining room, meeting space, children's play area, laundry facilities, and other shared amenities, and in which they share optional meals several nights a week.

Urban Group Households of various kinds offer their residents lowered housing costs, shared expenses, and a lively social scene. Some urban Communities are organized as housing co-ops, including student housing co-ops, elder housing Co-Ops, and limited equity housing Co-Ops. These allow students, elders, and people with limited funds , respectively, to share ownership of their housing, share resources, make decisions cooperatively, and enjoy a closer connection to their neighbors than they would simply living in apartment buildings or condos.

Rural back-to-the-land homesteads offer their members the opportunity to grow much of their own food and practice rural self-reliance skills. Communities organized as conference and retreat centers, holistic healing centers, and sustainability education centers are often rural, food growing settlements as well, offering workshops and courses to the public.

Spiritual communities such as yoga ashrams and Buddhist meditation centers provide spiritual teaching and common spiritual practices, while spiritually eclectic Communities welcome members with a variety of different spiritual paths, and ofen offer public workshops on a wide variety of spiritual and personal growth themes. Some spiritual Communities, such as the over 100 Camphill Communities in Europe and North America, serve the needs of developmentally disabled adults or children in a Community setting.

Christian Communities offer Chrisitan fellowship and shared worship. Some are income-sharing some are not. Some Christian Communities also provide needed services to others, for example, the Catholic Worker Communities in many cities offer food and shelter for the urban homeless. By the way,most scholars of Intentional Communities include Catholic monasteries and convents, which they consider the most long-lived form of Intentional Community in the Western world.

In most income-sharing communes, members operate one or more Community businesses. Each member receives room and board, and the Community either pays them a small stipend or pays their basic needs such as:

  • clothes
  • toiletries
  • nutritional supplements
  • medical care

and so on. In some income-sharing communes members work outside the Community, and pool their salaries or wages, with the same arrangement- receiving room, board, and a stipend, or the Community pays for their basic needs.

Take note: "Commune" is used in this income-sharing sense, and not as a synonym for "Intentional Community," as many journalists mistakenly do.





Sources:  Finding Community: How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community

Contributors: Diana Leafe Christian

Recommended Books: Finding Community: How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community