I packed up the little one in the stroller and wandered over to an information session about a cohousing development project in Bridgewater.
My intention was to get more information about this exciting project. That way I could promote it to those in my network who might consider a move to Bridgewater. As I sat in the back listening to the benefits of cohousing, I quickly started to consider this opportunity for my young family. Could we really pick up our careers, sell our newly purchased home and move to the South Shore?
The opportunity to cut our carbon footprint was immediately appealing. We could keep adding insulation in the basement and attic of our 60-year old bungalow, but that was not getting us close to net zero energy efficiency performance. A passive home at Treehouse could mean a heating bill of only $100 a year.
Then I began to consider living in an intentional community where my neighbours are also committed to lightening their ecological footprint. With food always top of mind, I considered setting up a bulk food purchasing club. It would support local organic producers. I imagined the time I could save by collecting the majority of our groceries from the Common House, just steps from my front door. I could grow more food. With the help of my neighbours, we could coordinate and grow a food forest with year round produce.
Treehouse Village is located along the Centennial Trail and is walking distance to all major amenities, including the elementary school, so active transportation could potentially work for my family most days. How often do we really need a vehicle? Could a neighbourhood car share serve us well? Maybe we could even all chip in on a shared electric vehicle.
What else could we share? Would other parents be interested in collaborating on child care? Instead of daily drop offs at daycare, then school, then work, Mike or I could care for the littles on Tuesdays, meeting at the Common House to start our day. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I could work from home, rotating between the Common House dining room, the quiet co-working space upstairs, and my workstation at home, while my neighbours took turns playing with the children. Bikes and balls and outdoor toys could be stored in the shared toy shed in the nature playground, down from the shared greenhouse, beside the shared tool shed, across from the common workshop.
My mind was buzzing with possibilities as I walked home from the info session. I was playing out my daily routine in my house and comparing it to life at Treehouse Village. It was clear we could do a lot more with less. The move would involve downsizing to a home with considerably less square footage but grant us more shared space, amenities, and community support than we could ever access on our own. Our visitors could bunk up on our couch or enjoy the privacy of the guest rooms in the Common House. Our children would swap our basement rec room for a 10+ acre forest, indoor kids room, and play pals next door. Instead of a garage packed with a car and stuff we rarely use, we could share tools and equipment in a garden shed and workshop. There could be a convenient spot for bikes and strollers out of the elements. The laundry room would be condensed to a closet-size space in our home, and if I felt ambitious I could haul my laundry to the common house laundry room and make use of the rowing machine across the hall during the wash cycle.
I like where I am living right now and am happy with the services and privacy of my current lifestyle. But over supper, when my husband and I started talking about moving to Bridgewater for cohousing, it was clear that Treehouse better suits our family, and will provide a richer opportunity for our family on just about every measure. We filled out the prospective member questionnaire the next day.
Stay tuned for part two, where Emma shares more about her economic rationale for moving to Treehouse and her motivation to simplify her house and lifestyle.