Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is cohousing?
A. According to Wikipedia: "Cohousing is an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space. Each attached or single family home has traditional amenities, including a private kitchen. Shared spaces typically feature a common house, which may include a large kitchen and dining area, laundry, and recreational spaces."
Here's how residents of Cully Grove, another intentional community developed by Eli Spevak, describe their experience:
"I describe it as an intentional community where you have a physical connection and an interpersonal connection with people where there is some cooperation needed to make things work." - Abe
"It is a community with 16 households and we share a lot of things, physical stuff, and we also share things that are in our homes. Together we try to support each other in any way we can." - Rosemarie
"It's an intentional community. Sometimes I call it cohousing and sometimes I don't because cohousing advocates have some very specific criteria for what that is. So, it's a community by design. It looks and feels like a community where, by design, we encounter each other day by day just in our comings and goings, and we share things." - David
"I think it's important to say to people that we each have our own homes—and our privacy—and we each have our own space around our homes to do what we want because people will sometimes ask 'Oh, is it a commune?'" - Rosemarie
"It's not a commune, it's not anything like a commune; it's not economically integrated. It's somewhere between a subdivision and a commune.😀" - David
"A little piece of paradise. It's a co-housing community which is a group of people who want to live together, living lightly on the land. That's the short of it." - Dale
"Kids have free reign and they have each other. I wish we had been able to raise our daughter in cohousing because it's the way to go." - Dale
Q. Why do people choose cohousing over other options?
"Before Cully Grove, the whole idea of it [cohousing] got started, we were looking to live in some kind of community with people because we'd been targeting that for our future as our kids grew up and left." - Abe
"We were in a single-family home with a neighborhood lacking kids Altay's age and lacking neighborhood connections, and just felt that we needed a radical change in our life's surroundings." - Karen and Altay
"One of the big driving points for us in considering cohousing was playdates because I was always needing to arrange playdates, and with Altay not having a sibling, I had to generate social interaction for him." - Karen
"There are some great connections and opportunities for multi-generation interactions." - Karen
"Through our involvement with the NW Earth Institute, and being part of a simplicity support group for several years, we talked about ways to live more simply using fewer resources, and cohousing was a way that came up." - David & Rosemarie
Q. I'm apprehensive about sharing space with other people. What's it like?
"I didn't have a lot of expectations. I just felt like we were all strangers and so there was some kind of apprehension about how's everyone going to fit in and get along. The surprise—or not a surprise—I really like the feeling that I have here and it's almost like it's easier to take it for granted after three years, but I still don't. It's like you come to a place and you feel like you're part of a bigger entity, and it's really nice." - Abe
"The main thing I thought was 'Yay!' because I heard there would be more kids my age and I was very excited to come here because at my old house I only had one friend nearby, and he wasn't my age. I was really excited when I heard we would be moving here." - Altay
"There are opportunities for social engagement that don't have to be organized in advance. That's huge for me." - Karen
"I was concerned about sort of digging up all the angst I have around conflict and how challenging that would be. And a little bit of seeing my home as a place of refuge. The work I'd been doing with non-profits on boards and such, my home would be a refuge from dealing with people's stuff—but in the end, I feel like I'm balanced and that it's worth it. I've had an opportunity to learn a lot from working through conflict with people. It's a way of developing spiritually, I think." - Rosemarie
"I'm not a huge garden expert and I totally appreciate living with people who know what they're doing because they've created this amazing vision for what Cully Grove is going to look like in terms of planting and design. I participate monthly in work parties for maintenance and planting but I don't have to have the vision and I'm really appreciative of that—of living with other people's great ideas of what Cully Grove is going to look like comprehensively." - Karen
"I was apprehensive about the gardening. I thought we'd have to adopt a new gardening style, would have to grow everything edible, and I didn't know how—I felt the pressure to be a certain way here and, over time, it's turned out that people can just be who they are and there's encouragement there. There's tremendous acceptance for just being who you are." - Dale
Q. What's surprising about cohousing?
"There's always a positive feeling of potential for how much more we can accomplish." - Karen
"I've been surprised with how marvelous people are here. People came into the community somewhat prepared to care for each other." - Rosemarie
"I was a little naive in thinking that cohousing meant we'd all be doing stuff together from the get-go. But that wasn't the case. The biggest surprise was that people were really focusing in on their own homes to begin with and then the energy generally graduated outwards into the community." - Karen
"I think the most common misconception that I encounter is that you have to be an extrovert. You don't have to be party people or 'on' all the time." - David
"How well we get along, and we're all different. It feels like it's pretty easy to settle differences if there was a misunderstanding or things people don't like—as long as they're willing to speak up about them." - Suzanne