Our thanks to Rob Sandelin of Sharingwood Cohousing in Bainbridge, Washington for allowing us to share his list of great reasons to live in a cohousing community. Rob has been walking this talk for over 20 years. Sharingwood is a good example for all us who are acting on our desire to live in community.
1. Living in community offers security
You can rely on your neighbors to help you, even when you don’t ask. This is huge for me, that my family is in a safe and supportive place. My grandmother died recently, my neighbors knew all about it, sent cards and sympathy and support to my family. HER neighbors didn’t even know she was sick, most of them didn’t even know her name. How many of them could she ask to help?
2. Community offers social opportunities
I can have wonderful and meaningful interactions with people I like, who are my neighbors, just by sitting out on my porch. I really enjoy hanging out and talking with folks about everything, politics, the news, kids. Sharing our histories and ourselves grows a wonderful bond among us, I suppose much like encounter groups do. I know more about my neighbors history and lives and why they do things like they do than I know about some of my family members.
3. Supportive place for kids to grow up
Safe, lots of friends-both other kids and adults. Kids can play and I know any adult in the neighborhood will be there for them in case of need. Fun place to be an adult, lots of play opportunity with kids, and other adults.
4. Great place to collaborate with people who share similar interests
Small groups form revolving around shared common interests, beer making, sewing, gardening, music, etc. I don’t have to “go” anywhere to enjoy a beer making club, my neighbors and I can do that. The common house is great for that.
5. A sense of togetherness and belonging
I am part of something that is really wonderful, it is a model for a better way to live, and we all together are doing it. I can’t explain this in words very well but there is a strong feeling of happiness in me that comes from working towards a common good that I used to get as a teacher and environmentalist, and now get as I work with my neighbors on a variety of projects.
6. A great restaurant
It’s in the middle of my neighborhood, and it’s called the common house. I can have a great dinner and great conversation with friends, with far less time and money involved than a restaurant.
7. Great place to learn new things
I always wanted to try making beer. Having a couple of neighbors share that interest got me home brewing. We learn and try new stuff all the time.
8. A great place to share ownership
of things that I couldn’t really afford myself, such as a workshop, play structure, tools, library, etc.
9. Huge personal resources available
Want to know about bee keeping? I go ask Mel, and get all kinds of info. Having problems with my car? Mary knows lots about such things. Want to build a shed? Bob can give me advice, help me scrounge materials, hell, did half the work one Saturday. A neighborhood like mine is a collection of 26 lifetimes worth of experience in all manner of things. What a treasure trove!
I get ALL the great benefits of cooperative living, and also get huge amounts of privacy, whenever I want just by going home and closing the door or going into the 25 acres woods that surround my house that everybody shares ownership of.
I would say the $ value of all those things, to me, would be in the million dollar range. My house cost me less than market value to build and is worth way more than I paid for it should I ever move to another community.