Are you a Good Fit for Cohousing? Part Two

Future cohousing residents in California dine together after one of their monthly business meetings.

In last week’s blog, I discussed the six defining characteristics of cohousing neighborhoods which combine personal privacy with community. But how do you know if you’re a good fit for living in these intentional neighborhoods?  If you want a sneak preview, click here for a one-minute video presentation I gave in Florida about key characteristics for successfully living in cohousing.

You Like Meetings
If you get involved with a forming cohousing group, be prepared for lots of meetings anywhere from monthly to weekly. Meetings are an essential component of cohousing because creating one of these communities is an egalitarian, participatory process where future residents make decisions together as a group. The beauty of this collaborative decision making process is that you have an active say in the development of your neighborhood including both, the physical design of the community, and the social agreements for living together after move-in. Ask yourself if you’ll enjoy and/or are willing to participate in meetings for typically two to three years from conception to move-in and then bi-monthly after you move in.

You’re Willing to Share Leadership
Making decisions as a group requires strong communication and group process skills. Typically, several members of the forming group get trained early on to effectively facilitate and lead meetings. If you’re interested in learning these skills you will be a valuable member of the cohousing group and these skills are applicable in other aspects of your life (e.g. your work or spiritual community). Many cohousing neighborhoods use egalitarian consensus decision-making to ensure that all opinions are heard in a discussion. Rather than having a single dominant leader, cohousing group process is more based on the Quaker belief that ‘”everyone has a piece of the truth.”

You’re Comfortable Expressing Your Feelings
Since so many issues are discussed during the development stage of cohousing and after move-in, residents find that sharing personal feelings leads to self-discovery. A favorite quote sourced to Zev Paiss, founding Executive Director of the Cohousing Association of the U.S. captures this well:

“Cohousing is the longest and most expensive personal growth workshop you will ever take.”

If you enjoy meetings, are willing to share leadership, and express your personal feelings, cohousing offers an innovative and nurturing alternative to living alone or the isolation of standard U.S. neighborhoods. Please contact me for more info about this community-focused option.


  1. I am a member of Wolf Creek Lodge – a senior co-housing community – currently under construction in Grass Valley, CA

    There are ‘good’ meetings and ‘bad’ meetings ( Haven’t we all endured some of those? )
    Good meetings, on the other hand, are inspirational and a bonding experience.
    A really important part of the co-housing development process is for the group to get professional help, right from the start, to enable them to run meetings that are productive, inclusive and fun.

    • Yes, Claire I couldn’t agree more. Those of you who got professional help with meeting, and with the process are enjoying the fruits of that by being under construction rather than hoping you were, or even worse, spending all the time and energy only to have it not ever become a built community. Thanks for your contribution to success.

  2. Magdalene Jaeckel says

    Very interesting to read about women looking for shared living opportunities. We have been at work for 6 years now creating a Cohousing community of active adults, Called Wolf Creek Lodge. We have worked together as a group and have become good friends in the process, having learned a lot about effective meetings and speaking our mind while respecting the other. Our group has 32 members so far, consisting of 10 couples, two single men and 10 single women. We find this to be a very healthy mix, where men and women can contribute their special talents and skills . Since ours is a small Town in Northern California ,with a favorable climate, lots of cultural activities within easy reach as well as chances for outdoor activity, we have attracted folks from large cities who are tired of the traffic and crowds and don’t mind to make a significant change. Flexibility and a sense of adventure motivates them all. Check out our interesting

    • Thanks for sharing about your cohousing community. Having come from N. Calif I am very familiar with Grass Valley. Interesting mix of genders, with both singles and couples. Love to know what you did in that 6 years to come together and bond. I think others would like to know as well. You use the term active adults which is interesting too. Like it much better than seniors, yet, no term so far for us really appeals to me. Congratulations for preserving and showing us it can be done.

  3. I am a member of Wolf Creek Loge in Grass Valley, CA ,and we are a growing community planning on moving into our eco-friendly lodge in October, 2012. Our three-story lodge was designed with architect Chuck Durrett and our project manager is Katie McCamant – the people who brought cohousing to the U.S. from Denmark. We are active seniors who desire to live in community while maintaining our option for privacy. More cohousing communities, both intergenerational and senior, can be found at

    • Thanks Suzanne. Another person from Wolf Creek Lodge. I remember being in Chuck Durrett’s Senior Cohousing Facilitation Training in 2005 with one of your members just putting the flyers out about your cohousing community then. The resources you include are helpful to anyone wanting more information. My resource page includes some of those you identified. Thanks so much for being one of the pioneers. Love Grass Valley and that part of the country.


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