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The benefits and advantages of living in cohousing communities in denmark

Strangers who decide to create a community and live in their own dwellings — yet share common spaces, activities and various aspects of their lives — are part of a growing movement referred to as "cohousing. A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves. The award-winning AARP Livable Communities e-Newsletter "Cohousing's growing appeal trades on concerns and aspirations that are part '60s counterculture, part '00s 'sharing economy,' and bound into the American DNA all the way back to Plymouth Rock," reads a 2015 article in Portland Monthly.

Its focus was the 15 homes of Oregon's Sunlight Holding Co. Since the first owners took residence in 2000, Takoma Village has solidified into a vibrant, self-governing community that's home to activists; federal, nonprofit and private-sector workers; retirees; young parents and children who live and play on 1.

Also fun, ecofriendly and people-friendly, if not necessarily right for everyone.

  1. Takoma Village Cohousing hires for particularly specialized tasks, such as electrical and plumbing work, and for plowing the parking lot. In the late 1990s, a few of the founding owners say, there was interest in having a cohousing community in the area.
  2. Budget matters have become easier over time, owners say.
  3. Co-owners say their living arrangement is technically a homeowners' association because it's a condominium and is legally governed by a board and condominium documents. Most cohousing communities also have restricted automobile access and a centralized parking area, which allows children to play safely outside and move more freely than they can in urban neighborhoods.
  4. What attracts potential buyers to Takoma Village Cohousing?
  5. It saves an enormous amount of money and it builds community.

AARP Livable Communities sat down with 10 Takoma Village residents ranging in age from 36 to 76 to learn how the community came together, how residents balance privacy and shared space, and how work does indeed get done by consensus. Who lives at Takoma Village Cohousing? At the time of the discussion with AARP, there were 70 adults and 17 youngsters in residence, ranging in age from less than a year old to nearly 88.

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Eight out of 10 residents are white, and six percent of the residents identify as LGBT. After 15 years, 60 percent of residents are still founding owners. How did Takoma Village Cohousing come together? In the late 1990s, a few of the founding owners say, there was interest in having a cohousing community in the area.

A developer had found the infill property and contacted Ann Zabaldoa national cohousing leader. Fliers distributed in local neighborhoods brought about 65 people to the first couple of meetings, from which 15 households signed on to launch Takoma Village Cohousing.

The Benefits of Cohousing

Owners had input into the design, from colors to floor plans. Groundbreaking was in the fall of 1999, and the first owners moved in on November 17, 2000. Is cohousing a co-op, a homeowners' association, a commune? Co-owners say their living arrangement is technically a homeowners' association because it's a condominium and is legally governed by a board and condominium documents.

20 Questions and Answers About Cohousing

But more to the point, cohousing is an intentional community. Photo by Ellen Ryan A balcony view of the common house great room, which includes a kitchen and dining area. Adds resident Mary Jane Cavallo: What's private property and what's public property in a cohousing complex?

Takoma Village Cohousing features two rows of privately owned condos and townhouses that face each other across a green. The rows are connected by a 3,800-square-foot common house, which is a three-story, elevator-equipped structure where meetings, parties and other gatherings take place.

The common house has community mailboxes, a kitchen, a great room with dining tables and a fireplace, a playroom, a TV room, workshop, exercise room, two guestrooms, an office, a laundry room and reading nook. Outside features include a hot tub, garden, playground, piazza and backyard hammock. The grounds and parking lot are common space as well.

What's the governance structure? As with any condo, a board of directors complies with the legal structure of the condominium.

  • Another helpful point, several owners say, is realizing that perception may not be reality;
  • Neighbors also share resources like tools and lawnmowers;
  • Cohousing communities offer shared meals for those who want to participate, so long as you are willing to cook for the group once in a while;
  • AARP Livable Communities sat down with 10 Takoma Village residents ranging in age from 36 to 76 to learn how the community came together, how residents balance privacy and shared space, and how work does indeed get done by consensus;
  • A main concern early on, residents Ann Zabaldo and Mark Headings note, was making sure Takoma Village Cohousing's common house kitchen was not ruled to be commercial because then, they explain, "we would have needed commercial licenses, commercial hoods … we would have been a restaurant!
  • In a cohousing community, children and their parents benefit from an enormously flexible culture where there are far more options for childcare support, activities and play.

Early on, says Mark Headings, a founding owner, all owners also met weekly because "there was a lot of organizational stuff to figure out. But now we can have meetings scheduled even once a month, and sometimes they get canceled for lack of pressing business.

Instead, important decisions are made by consensus of the whole, not by majority vote. Photo by Ellen Ryan "Soup 'n Simple" is one of several optional meal planning and sharing activities. Everyone has to agree? How does anything get done?

  • To learn more about cohousing communities in your area, visit the Cohousing Association of the United States Directory;
  • There's no approval process for buying an apartment in Takoma Village Cohousing, but there is an education process;
  • Owners had input into the design, from colors to floor plans.

Often, enough communication happens in person and online before a meeting that official decisions come easily. Other times, such as with the pet policy, contention has meant trouble agreeing and time spent in discussion. By the way, cats and dogs are allowed in the private residences, and dogs on leashes can visit the common areas.

  1. Also fun, ecofriendly and people-friendly, if not necessarily right for everyone.
  2. Co-owners say their living arrangement is technically a homeowners' association because it's a condominium and is legally governed by a board and condominium documents.
  3. It prepares meals, has potlucks and communal dinners and special events, but does not sell anything. Everyone has to agree?

Budget matters have become easier over time, owners say. How does cohousing work financially? Owners pay their own property taxes plus a monthly condo fee. Also, economies of scale work to everyone's advantage. There's a common Internet provider, for instance.

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And because so much of Takoma Village Cohousing was built or improved with green technology — from geothermal heating and cooling to solar panels — both individual and common energy bills are relatively low. In addition, labor provided by the residents lessens the financial burden for all and makes the community "work together. What do they do? Everyone is expected to put in at least six hours of community-related work each month, although most do considerably more. There are eight to 10 scheduled workdays a year in which residents do everything from repairs to groundskeeping to heavy-duty cleaning, and those days alone fulfill most of a resident's labor expectation.

Some work is regular and structured, while other work is as needed, like shoveling snow. Residents' labor has a dual purpose, the owners say: It saves an enormous amount of money and it builds community. Takoma Village Cohousing hires for particularly specialized tasks, such as electrical and plumbing work, and for plowing the parking lot. Image courtesy Takoma Village Cohousing Owners who need or want to move typically sell their units themselves and with the help of the community.

What about people who can't do physical labor? Or people with odd schedules? There's plenty to do for everyone, residents say. An older or disabled owner might take minutes at meetings or confer with consultants or plan events.

People with odd schedules are considered an asset. Those around during the day let in repair people, accept deliveries and even handle emergencies. Does the work system ever break down?

  • We see stuff going on, but we don't intervene;
  • The culture within the individual community is a major factor, along with the location and other associated costs;
  • Were, or are, there zoning or other special requirements to create cohousing complexes like Takoma Village Cohousing?
  • An older or disabled owner might take minutes at meetings or confer with consultants or plan events.

Do some people not contribute? There is the occasional orphan task, and the problem of not contributing is also occasional. Another helpful point, several owners say, is realizing that perception may not be reality.

Because some work is done individually or not during prime time, people may not realize it's being done or that a certain neighbor has been putting in the time. Image courtesy Takoma Village Cohousing Above: The floor plan for a two-bedroom condo apartment. Takoma Village Cohousing has flats with one or two bedrooms and two-story townhomes with two to four bedrooms. How is Takoma Park Cohousing an ecofriendly community? Light pipes similar to skylights brighten the upper floors.

Pesticide use is minimal and food waste is composted. Communal ownership of everything from treadmills to outdoor grills means less consumption. Many residents get by with one car or no car at all because of the nearby bus and train system, taxis, bikeshare station and carshare options.

Recycling bins are everywhere, including for unwanted mail. One owner collects batteries for recycling. What are the advantages of living in cohousing? The most common answer: Some take part in optional shared meals, which reduce the burden on working parents.

In a similar vein, parents appreciate the sense of having a village to raise a child. Stockdale has a six-year-old daughter who walks herself to visit a friend. The child also enjoys being able to hang out in the common house playroom. Residents with illnesses, injuries or disabilities find that neighbors are quick to help with meals, rides to medical care and more.

On a larger level, there's always someone to socialize with. There are movie nights and Presidential inaugural viewing parties. What are some disadvantages? People the benefits and advantages of living in cohousing communities in denmark want to go their own way and not use consensus to resolve issues would likely butt heads with neighbors who do. A few residents grumble, a little, about footing the bill for perks or services they don't use, from childcare to the hot tub.

Some cohousing communities handle this by charging user fees. Takoma Village Cohousing does not. As one resident points out, "Somebody's always supporting something that they don't use. The need for consensus, the need to communicate expectations of community, the need to clarify whether people are working — all these require more effort than in a typical condominium or homeowners' association. How does the community handle conflicts? Some cohousing communities have a formal dispute resolution group.

Owners did conduct nonviolent communication workshops early on, which several mentioned finding valuable. The advice for problems among neighbors is low-key communication — in person or over the Listserve for something systemic. An example of low-key communication, per Headings: How much privacy do residents have? But living in fairly close quarters — as in any form of multifamily housing — with the added interaction with neighbors hasn't meant complete transparency.

Several owners nod when one offers, "I do think there is a sort of visual privacy.