How is Cohousing different from a co-op?

In Canada, most housing co-ops are part of a government sponsered
affordable housing program. Residents pay a share to live there and their
rent is determined by their income. When a resident leaves a co-op, no
equity has been built up. Although residents of a co-op share duties, most
co-ops do not have an intentional neighbourhood design or commitment to
regular community activities. Many persons live in co-ops because they are
affordable, not because they want a collaborative lifestyle. In cohousing,
residents usually own their own units, the units are designed to encourage
community interaction, there are extensive common facilities and residents
are committed to having a vibrant community life.

How does resale work?

Most cohousing is built with a regular fee simple strata title ownership
type. When a resident desires to sell, it is no different than selling a
normal townhouse or conominium. The unit goes on the market and anyone who
wishes can purchase it?

Is there a screening process?

Most cohousing does not have a screening process for new residents. They
believe that potential residents will self-select themselves. This means
it is the potential residents who decide if they like the community and
what it stands for. Cohousers have found out that putting restrictions on
who can join lowers their property value, makes banks unhappy and is no
guarentee that prospective residents are compatible.

What if I dont like someone in the group?

It is not essential for everyone in cohousing to like each other. In fact,
a variety of personalities adds interest to community. Cohousing residents
need only share a goal of making their lives more efficient and anjoyable
through cooperating with their neighbours. Since cohousing offers more
opportunities for interaction with neighbours, residents learn to develop
their conflict resolution and mediation skills.

Does everyone have to eat in the common dining room?

Common meals are optional. Residents decide if and when they want to
participate. Every cohousing community has a different way of organizing
tis meals. At Cardiff Place in Victoria, there are 3 common meals per week
and residents rotate in the preparation of the meal. About 2/3s of the
residents participate in any given meal.

How is cohousing managed?

The residents of the cohousing project manage their community themselves.
Most cohousing communities have a variety of committees responsible for
overseeing the various tasks. These may include food, gardening,
maintenance, finance and administration. Residents volunteer for the
committees as their interest and energies allow. 

How much participation is required?

Cohousing communities generally do not have any mandatory participation
requirements. Residents contribute when they are able. As with any group,
some contribute more and some less but the overall contribution rate is
higher. Resentments that may build up are usually talked through at
community meetings.

How are community decisions made?

Most cohousing communities make decisions by consensus for all major
community issues. This means that every member of the community must go
along with the decision. In effect, every member has a veto. The result is
that residents work very hard at coming up with solutions that are
acceptable to all. Most communities have a fall back position where a
large majority (75%) vote can be used if there is a stalemate. The Cardiff
Place cohousing has never had to resort to a vote.

What is the size range of a cohousing community?

Cohousing communities are generally most effective when they have between
15 and 35 units which works out to between 30 and 85 residents. If the
community is too small there are not enough financial and other resources
to provide adequate community facilities. If the community is too large,
it becomes impersonal and the feeling of neighbourliness is lost.