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WHAT and WHY Cohousing?

We all crave compassion, connection and a sense of belonging.  

Residents of cohousing communities report higher levels of well-being and happiness.


A video snapshot of what it is like to live in cohousing in a Canadian context.  The three cohousing communities featured are all located in British Columbia.

​In a cohousing community, you join together with a group that has shared values, beliefs and goals, including where to live and how much you can afford.  There are different types of groups that are commonly formed, each unique. 

Ottawa Cohousing will accommodate groups that are Multigenerational (includes families of all sizes) - Older Adults (50+) - ECO centric - and groups that have a newcomer inclusion focus.

Cohousing communities tend to work best with 15 to 25 households involved.  However, cohousing can be created with as little as 4 households and some existing cohousing communities are as large as 80 households.

"Cohousing came into existence because people had become dissatisfied with the isolation of the typical suburban house or urban apartment, but they wanted to avoid the opposite extreme of communal living. They wanted privacy, but not alienation and loneliness. They wanted to be part of a community, but to retain their independence and their right not to participate."
~ Marian Van Court, "Cohousing: An Ancient Idea Whose Time has Come"

Your motivation to join a cohousing community needs to be social and not economical.  Cohousing isn't more or less affordable than other housing options. You pay more for the benefit of shared facilities in cohousing such as access to a pool, workshop or guest bedroom, but you can compensate by living with a slightly smaller private home.  The overall financial requirements are then approximately equal to going it on your own with a newly built private property.

Social benefits

  • When you need company, the chances of someone being close by and available are pretty good.

  • Eating alone becomes a choice and not a necessity, as options for shared meals are part of the day to day, (frequency of meals together will vary by the cohousing community).

  • Life becomes more efficient when you do things as a group, liberating newfound personal time for other things.


Site benefits

  • Potential access to neighbourhoods that might otherwise be unavailable to you.

  • Access to a larger private exterior site and grounds.

Security benefits

  • You will know your neighbours, and will support each other.

  • There will be someone looking out for your place consistently. 

Sustainability benefits

  • Increased efficiencies, hence collectively reducing CO2 emissions, through the sharing walls and ceilings in the built structure(s).

  • Taking advantage of combined purchase power to afford and incorporate premium environmental measures and technologies.

  • Ability/ease of sharing major appliances such as vehicles, deep freezers, ladders, some power tools.

For more information on financial requirements  FINANCIAL AND LEGAL

For more information on why people choose cohousing FACTS & RESOURCES

Cohousing Communities are similar to other models of alternate housing, like-minded but not quite the same. 

  • COHOUSING Communities combine private homes with large generous communal spaces and shared resources. Each household owns their own private home and co-owns the shared interior and exterior spaces, which are collectively maintained.  Very good track records as real estate investments.


  • CO-OPERATIVES are owned by a Co-op corporation. Residents lease their own private home and share the entire property together. They collaborate to keep the building and grounds in good shape. Not a form of real estate investment, as residents do not own their units or profit from it's sale. Often subsidized by the government.

  • INTENTIONAL COMMUNITIES is the greater umbrella term that Cohousing fits within.  The umbrella also includes Intentional Communities that are larger and based on specific overriding values, which may include businesses collectively owned and operated by the members.

  • CO-LIVING arrangements greatly vary.  Members have small private rooms (typically bathroom and bedroom) and they share living space (kitchen, living and dining rooms) and other facilities. This may also be called Co-ownership.

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