Is Cohousing an Option for You?

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The goal of cohousing is a community that brings like-minded people together to live on a mutually held property. Residents take an active role in their property and buildings. The ideal of cohousing is private space owned by the resident with a large amount of commonly held space for the enjoyment and use by the entire community. While this sounds ideal to some, cohousing comes with its own set of characteristics that may or may not be appealing to the home seeker.

The financial part of cohousing commonly involves a co-op or condo strata organization. Co-op cohousing has shareholders who hold the shares that equate to their occupation and use of a particular unit on the property and use of the common areas. The condo strata financial organization is more familiar to most people, being the ownership of the interior space of a unit in most cases and commonly held ownership of the property.

Participation in the commonly held assets is a big part of cohousing. This is not the condo lifestyle where participation is generally limited to paying your strata fees and perhaps volunteering to be a member of the board of directors. Being a member of a cohousing community can mean that you are expected to take your turn helping out in the kitchen for communal meals or mowing the green space.

Many people are attracted to a communal lifestyle that still allows for privacy and private property. Many parents are seeking cohousing to provide a healthier lifestyle and safer community for their children. Still more people are attracted by the green building options that many cohousing communities use when building and repairing the buildings.

Cohousing comes with the same problems as condo units as far as social conflict. People living in the same area are inevitably going to have some kind of disagreement and it takes careful observation and inquiry to determine if a particular cohousing community has a healthy and effective strategy to deal with dissent and conflict between residents. As with any other real estate, a careful evaluation of the building is necessary to determine whether it is structurally sound and if there are any problems that need to be addressed.

Cohousing can be an attractive option for the home seeker who wants to live in a community where they can make a meaningful contribution to their property and the people who they share it with. For people who are a little more insular or too busy to accommodate the demands of cohousing, this might not be as good a fit. For many, the attractions of cohousing are growing to the point where many lenders recognize it as a good investment.
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