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So what is Co-housing?

Co-Housing in gaining in popularity in other parts of the world. Could the model work here in Rhode Island?

Written by Diana Thu

Gaining in popularity around the world, co-housing is a form of intentional, collective housing that is designed to encourage residents to participate and collaborate within their neighborhoods. The co-housing communities are normally attached or consist of several single family homes that are clustered around a common shared space. Included in the common shared space are a common house, a playground and courtyards. In these communities, there is often a common house which lies as the main social center. Generally, you can find a kitchen, lounge, recreational facilities and children’s spaces.

Residents of co-housing communities aspire to “improve the world, one neighborhood at a time.” – Monterey Cohousing

Typically, those that choose co-housing believe in the importance of building strong relationships with one another and surrounding themselves with a positive and supporting environment. In order to maintain a cooperative and trusting relationship with other community members, residents normally will enjoy group meals together several times a week and participate in traditions and community clubs.

Co-Living Bandwagon

While co-living has been around for a long time, throughout recent years it has become a popular option for many millennial’s and senior citizens. It has become quite common amongst millennial’s to seek for a living space that encourages a diverse and accepting community. Inside PodShare in Los Angeles, the idea of doors inside the living space is actually considered unacceptable except for bathrooms and toilets because doors are seen as a block that hinders opportunities for residents to build  lasting connections. Communal spaces such as the kitchen, work spaces, gyms and more allow residents to become closer and share experiences with one another.

In addition to the desired shared experiences that come with the co-living is its incentive of cost-effectiveness. According to a recent study, the reason that these houses are more affordable comes back to the idea that you pay for a reduced portion of space than what would normally be available. Because of this, co-living communities have become an option when avoiding paying the high prices required to live in larger urban areas. Popularity is subsequently gaining in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington D.C. For example, membership prices in the Coliving Club in San Francisco can be as cheap as $998 per month, whereas the current median rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in San Francisco is a whopping $3,690 per month. While our Providence rental rates are not soaring to these heights yet, prices have increased to the point of becoming unsustainable for many young professionals and seniors living independently. If our zoning catches up, co-living models could gain in popularity here.

Is Co-housing for you?

If you are considering joining a co-housing community, consider more than just the financial incentives. It is important to expect to be part of an integrated community that share a common interest of improving the quality of life and building strong connections with one another. In addition to these ideals, residents often believe in maintaining a sustainable lifestyle through sharing resources and reducing energy costs. Another factor to take into consideration when deciding to join a co-housing community is understanding the decision making process and responsibilities, in regards to living spaces, are shared amongst all members of the community. This tradition grants everyone the opportunity to openly communicate and share their various perspectives. As a far departure from America’s housing “norms” co-living is a great fit for some and a worst nightmare for others. Of course you won’t know which side you land on until you try it.