Driving back to Halifax after visiting friends in Cape Breton, my husband asked me:
“I’ve found a cohousing project on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. It looks interesting and they have an information session on YouTube. Do you want to listen to it while we drive?”
My immediate thought was ugg, not really. What I visualized when I heard the word cohousing was sharing living space. I envisioned living in a mansion with one big kitchen and each family unit had a section of rooms. I clearly had no idea what cohousing really was!
With three hours left in our drive, I decided to humour my husband and allowed him to play the information session for Treehouse Village Ecohousing.
As I listened, I was surprised to learn that cohousing isn’t about sharing a single kitchen, rather, each unit is a fully functional home with a full kitchen. As someone with a food allergy, I needed to know I had control over my home kitchen. That was my biggest aversion to the idea of cohousing and that myth got dispelled within the first few minutes of the info session.
I learned that cohousing is not a new concept, but is relatively new within North America. Part of what makes cohousing unique is that it is built around intentional community – and by built, I mean that the architecture of the buildings themselves. The buildings are designed to help encourage interactions with your neighbours rather than avoiding interactions.
Now there is some common space, and a common building known as the common house. The common house has a fully equipped kitchen that allows members to create and enjoy community meals with their neighbours. The more tightly knit cohousing communities typically have community dinners at least two or three days a week. They are an opt in thing, so you aren’t required to eat at a common meal, but it happens regularly and with a busy family, the ability to not have to cook every night and still have a healthy meal is a real win.
Cohousing is about living together in an intentional community – where you intentionally want to hang out with your neighbours, and where you share some of the chores of daily life, like picking up the kids after school or trips to the grocery store. This allows everyone in the community to save time and money. It also means that when you want to chat, there is always someone around – if you are feeling lonely, all you need to do is pop down to the common house and see what exciting things are happening there – like a game of scrabble, or making special treats for the kids lunches.
I asked my husband, how do we sign up?
Feature image: an activity from our first design workshop where we used blocks to envision what our community might look like.