Is Cohousing Right for You?

This article is originaly from the Portland Parent, July 1997, with some changes to reflect the situation at Wasatch Commons.

Charles Maclean, a spokesperson for the Trillium Hollow project, readily admits that, while the cohousing arrangement may sound ideal, "it's not for everybody." In fact, most satisfied cohousing members share a number of what might be termed "personality traits." "Are You a Cohousing Person?," a checklist developed by Trillium Hollow, highlighs five characteristics required of most cohousing residents:

Here are some additional questions to ask yourself and your family before signing on the dotted line:

Are you extremely introverted?
"If you're extremely introverted and need lots and lots of private time, it may not be for you," notes Kelly Scott of Trillium Hollow
Are you extremely extroverted?
"Extroverts have a problem because they don't know how to protect their privacy," explains Chris Hanson, Trillium Hollow project manager. "They take a while to adjust."
Do you subscribe to the core-cohousing values?
According to Maclean, those values often involve voluntary simplicity, "living lightly on the land," safety and security issues, and intergenerational diversity.
Do you abhor meetings?
Maclean recalls someone saying, "Cohousing would be great if it didn't take so many meetings." In fairness to the cohousing concept, most experts point out that once the projects are built, meeting schedules become less frentic. Still, meetings are at the heart of cohousing life.
Do you crave ample private space?
"Those who want a large house with a big lawn around it ... cohousing isn't for them," notes George Stone from Cascadia Commons.
Can you afford it?
A cohousing unit is no bargain. Most cost what one would expect to pay for new housing in the area. Trillium Hollow is no exception. (And neither is Wasatch Commons, although prices in Utah are generally a little lower. Our prices range from $99,000 for a small one-bedroom unit to $195,000 for a four-bedroom unit.) For many families -- particularly those who are buying a first home -- these prices may be prohibitive.

Being extroverted is not necessary but it helps