Common Myths about cohousing

Posted by Anthony Kidd | 3 September 2010

Cohousing units don't have their own kitchen

Units in a cohousing neighbourhood are much the same as any other, whether they be detached houses, townhouses or flats. Each one has it’s own kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms and living spaces. Cohousing units are often smaller than traditional houses because it is not necessary to use space on facilities which are in the common house, however this is not universally so. The kitchens and bathrooms in cohousing developments are much the same as traditional housing, although are usually designed better.

Cohousing units don't have their own bathroom

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Cohousing is only for the middle class

3 of the cohousing neighbourhoods in Australia contain low income rental units and two of them are exclusively for low income earners. In the United States cohousing neighbourhoods often contain units for purchase by low income earners at a discounted price. Unfortunately the Australian governments do not support home ownership for low income earners.

Cohousing is cheaper

A cohousing unit is likely to cost much the same as a traditional unit of the same type in the same area. There are some savings from economies of scale but those savings are usually spent on common facilities. This means that even though you pay the same you are getting better value for money.

Banks don't like cohousing

Banks are willing to lend to anybody who has title over their dwelling. The traditional form of choosing is much the same as any other flat or dwelling in Australia. Cohousers have title to their dwelling and can mortgage it in the same way as any other.

There is no privacy in cohousing

Cohousing neighbourhoods are designed with a mixture of private, semi-private, common and public spaces. Traditional neighbourhoods contain only private and public space. Having a choice of spaces means that a person's home is more private as they do not have to use their home as semi-private space. If they want to interact with others, cohousers can go to the common house. If they do not feel like socialising they can retreat to their own dwelling. Cohousers learn to respect the privacy of others and not disturb those who want privacy.

Cohousing is a commune

In cohousing people do not share income. This is one of the key characteristics of a choosing community and the one which distinguishes it from a commune. There is nothing wrong with communes but cohousers are not communards and do not necessarily want to live in a more radical form of intentional community. Cohousing is the mainstream form of intentional community.