Abstract

Cohousing is an increasingly popular form of tenure that combines elements of private and collective ownership and affords its occupants a combination of the advantages of individual proprietorship with some of the benefits of living in a community that shares some of its space and activities. People join cohousing groups because they believe that there is something wrong with life in most villages, towns, and cities and they want to develop a better alternative. Sometimes this has been seen to articulate a utopian aspiration to secure a better way of living, of the kind more normally associated with self-consciously intentional communities. But many influential spokespeople in the contemporary cohousing movement, in North America particularly, deny this association and take an explicitly anti-utopian stance, distancing cohousing from the communal movement and intentional communities. This article undertakes an examination of cohousing in North America today and asks the following questions: What is the real character of people's lived experience with modern cohousing? Why do people choose cohousing? Is it a form of intentional community? Is it utopian? Or is it just an attractive form of housing tenure for people who want a nice place to live with good neighbors?

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