Cohousing mini-FAQ

Taken from the alt.housing.notrad FAQ (here HTMLized):

What is cohousing?
Cohousing is the name of a type of collaborative housing that has been developed primarily in Denmark since 1972 where it is known as bofoellesskaber (English approximation). It is characterized by:
Private dwellings
Typically each dwelling contains a kitchen, living-dining room and one or more bedrooms and baths, but the layout of the home is reshuffled to reflect community priorities - placing most used areas of home so they have a view of and easy access to the pedestrian street.
Extensive common facilities
The common building is designed for daily use, to supplement private living areas. The common building may include such facilities as a large dining room including a commercial style kitchen, lounges, meeting rooms, recreation facilities, library, workshops, childcare.
Participatory process
Residents organize and participate in the planning and design process for the development and are responsible as a group for all final decisions.
Intentional Neighborhood design
The physical design itself encourages a strong sense of community (as opposed to isolation) and facilitates social contact.
Complete Resident Management
Residents manage the community making decisions of common concern at community meetings.
Pragmatic social goals
Unlike collective and intentional communities, Cohousing retains the privacy and autonomy of the household but strengthens the family by creating supportive social networks and sharing certain daily tasks.
The typical Cohousing community has 20 to 30 single family homes along a pedestrian street or clustered around a pedestrian court yard. The individual homes may resemble townhouses. Cars are kept on the periphery of the area. The common building is located centrally, often situated so it is passed when entering the community. Residents of cohousing communities often have several optional group meals in the common building each week.

What examples of cohousing groups can you point to?
You can get a list from:

The Cohousing Company
1250 Addison St. #113
Berkeley CA 94702
(510) 549-9980

There's also a list in the Cohousing Resource Guide, described in the next section.

Where else can I read about cohousing?
First another electronic resource: there is a cohousing mailing list. Send mail to with the following line in the BODY of the message (no subject line needed):

subscribe COHOUSING-L myname

The Cohousing Resource Guide is a 50+ page collection of experiences, advice and learning from several of the cohousing groups in our region who have built projects. It includes information about group process and dynamics, finding a site, some begining design issues to think about, and a bunch of other info. It also includes references to books, tapes and cohousing groups and people. It is designed in a three ring binder format to be cheap and easy to annually update as new resources and advice gets shared. To order a copy send $6 (This covers our printing and mailing costs) to

Rob Sandelin
22020 East Lost Lake Rd.
Snohomish, WA 98290

And the book that brought the idea to the US:
Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves, 2nd ed. Kathryn M. McCamant and Charles R. Durrett and Ellen Hertzman, 1994, Ten Speed Press, Post Office Box 7123, Berkeley, CA 94707. $29.95. 22 cm x 24.5 cm (8.5" x 9.5"), 288 pages, Paperback is (aqua) green.

There also a monthly magazine, viz. "Cohousing Magazine," which I believe costs $25/year (comes out quarterly I think). Write to: The CoHousing Network P.O. Box 2584 Berkeley CA 94702

Last updated 21 Jan 97 by max