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What is Cohousing?

Prefer videos to reading this description? You can find videos describing cohousing at the bottom of this page.

Some describe cohousing as the village reimagined. Danish architect Jan Gudmand-Hoyer is a key figure in the initial movement, while architects Charles Durrett and Katie McCamant introduced it to North America, where it has become popular, evidenced by long waitlists. Cohousing roots itself in the ancient Greek concept of the village but with key differences.

A cohousing community is intentional, resembling an "extended family by choice" with a shared vision and values. You can find our vision and values statement here.

Cohousing features architectural designs that encourage spontaneous and fun connections among neighbors. It also includes social governance systems like consensus or sociocracy to ensure the community thrives. Our village incorporates these unique cohousing elements while honoring and celebrating Greek traditional village design.

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Typical Greek Village Plateia

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Nevada City Cohousing in California

How is Cohousing Different?
6 Key Cohousing Characteristics 

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1. We Are An Intentional Community

Cohousing is a type of intentional community.  At it’s core, an intentional community is simply a group of people who consciously (intentionally) choose to become a tribe together.  The intentionality of community is thus like an extended family by choice. 

 

Others define an intentional community as a group of people who choose to live together with a shared purpose.  While many who use this definition tend to be talking about people with a shared religion, political opinion, or ideology, our cohousing community is in fact quite diverse.  We do not share a single religion, political opinion, or particular ideology.  What we do share is a enjoyment of and commitment to our community and a celebration of those bonds- in the form of community celebrations and sharing time together managing our village and cooking and eating together.  We unify as a village around our shared values, and these values inform our community policies and design. 

 

There are many types of intentional communities, including cohousing, ecovillages, communes, spiritual communities, and more. Our intentional community does not share a common religious belief or political opinion, or even a common race, nationality, or original language, but we aim to foster close relationships, environmental sustainability, and we will be intentional about designing and operating our village in a way where we can all thrive.  That means we use sociocracy to govern, have conflict resolution infrastructure and training, and most of all we regularly share time having fun together, cooking and eating, and celebrating with each other.

όλοι μαζί !
2. We Participate and Collaborative in Createing Our Village Design

Acting as “owner-developers,” the future residents of any cohousing community come together in advance, identify and purchase land or buildings together, hire the right developer and builders, and design their village collaboratively with their professionals. Some groups renovate to design their village, and others build new.  We chose to build new.

 

We came together in a series of exciting and pioneering collaborative design workshops, with our developer Hillcon Build Group, on our land and in Sparta.  We designed every detail of our village with our developer, and we utilized both traditional Greek design as well as universal Cohousing design.  In addition, our design details reflect our own shared vision and values, including space for things we value doing together.  For instance, we designed a huge walk in restaurant style refrigerator in our Common House because we plan to buy local ingredients, choose from our garden, and cook locally from seasonal, delicious ingredients.  It was a meaningful experience that used all of our minds as a brain trust and the talents of our amazing professionals.  We created something truly spectacular we are proud of, and we look forward to growing our group and beginning to design our social policies as well as our community culture and celebrations.

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3. Faces Not Fences: 
We Design Our Physical Architecture To Choreograph Moments of Connection and Support Our Shared Activities.
 
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Everything about our village architecture and site layout is designed to choreograph a joyful community that connects easily.  The design also is meant to balance important private lives and private spaces with public spaces that enhance social interaction. 

 

Cohousing architectural design principals are inspired by the social spaces of the traditional village, and Greek villages are some of the most beautiful and social in the world.  The Greek village central plateia, the village fourno bread oven, and the village fountain, as well as Greek village walkways, all of these have a natural and organic place in our village as we integrate our home into this breathtaking, rich cultural and physical landscape.

 

While cohousing design draws inspiration from these timeless village layouts, it also incorporates contemporary needs and sustainable practices. Our Common House is the heart of Greek Village Cohousing, embodying our commitment to shared living. It features a coworking suite for remote professionals, a workshop, exercise gym, media room, library, living room, and a spacious kitchen and dining hall for communal meals. This central hub is designed to be welcoming and versatile, supporting a range of activities from solitude to social gatherings, thus strengthening community bonds​

4. Shared Meals:
Cooking & Eating Together is An Essential Cohousing Ingredient 

Individual cohousing homes have private kitchens. However, the heart of cohousing is the Common House, and the most important activity in the Common House is cooking and eating together several times a week, often with fresh ingredients from the garden.  

 

The Mediterranean diet is widely considered one of the healthiest possible diets and has produced some of the longest living people on earth. Our community values living a healthy Greek life focused on sharing meals made with fresh and local ingredients. Not only is cooking with neighbors fun but not having to cook every day is also fun, especially in Greece where you can instead spend the day swimming at the beach or hiking in the mountains. On the days you cook at home for yourself, if you have forgotten to pick up the spices, rest assured your neighbor will probably have both the spices and cooking advice, or you can both go pick your herbs from the gardens. Prefer to relax at the taverna, rest assured that if you want company, someone will want to go with you to enjoy the wonderful food and views. 

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Starting to cook together the Greek way 
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Rocky Hill Cohousing, Massachusetts, USA

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Installing photovoltaic cells on the rooftops

Highline Crossing Cohousing in Colorado, USA

3. We Value Living More Sustainability by Sharing Resources
and Being Good Stewards
of Our Land

 Environmental sustainability in cohousing generally also comes from preserving open spaces and using native species in landscaping, which supports local ecosystems and reduces the need for pesticides and excessive maintenance.  The design of smaller homes with shared common spaces, like our Common House, minimizes individual resource consumption and promotes a communal lifestyle that is both efficient and eco-friendly.


Beyond environmental benefits, cohousing reduces the overall ecological footprint through shared resources. This includes communal gardens, shared transportation options like car shares, and common facilities that reduce the need for individual ownership of infrequently used items, thereby decreasing material consumption and waste.
By fostering a collaborative community, cohousing enables residents to support one another in adopting sustainable practices, from energy use to food production. This collective effort amplifies the impact of individual actions, making cohousing a powerful model for sustainable living.

5. Safety and Security for Everyone. 

Freedom for Children

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Playing in the Common House playroom

Langley, BC Cohousing

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Raising children in cohousing

Nevada City, California Cohousing

Living in a community with no cars, where everyone is looking out for one another, and where kitchen windows often look onto the commons, provides an extra layer of safety for children and adults. Even in large cities, cohousing communities experience very little to no crime, offering safe living in an already safe country.  


Not only is cohousing safer, but children grow up with a sense of freedom and richness of friendships and connection. Parents are supported by close neighbors. Children can run freely and knock on their playmates’ doors.  


In addition, community-centered development includes resources spent on aging-in-place and child-friendly building features as well as outdoor play and safety features that enable all to thrive in the community together. Neighbors who are sick or injured can count on neighbors knowing and caring. There is always someone around to lend a helping hand.
 

 

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