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Co-Housing - The New American Dream



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By : Todd Levinson    99 or more times read
There's a great deal of talk in the housing trade these days, about 'green' building, and how the industry is looking toward sustainable construction, and more energy efficient homes.

And as encouraging as it may be, that the property experts are finally jumping aboard the solar-powered band-wagon, it is worth noting that there has been a great deal of development going on in this area for a number of years. The problem is, for a long time, it was seen by many developers and home buyers as an expensive luxury, and the preserve of wealthy 'tree-hugger' types. The popular market was calling for increasingly larger houses, built quickly, to satisfy growing demand.

However, behind the scenes and bucking the trend, there has been considerable growth in environmentally-aware cohousing projects. These collaborative developments, often involve the input of the prospective residents in the initial stages, regarding the design and layout of the site, in order to help create a sense of community. Also known in some areas as eco-villages, these progressively popular projects focus on sustainable and environmentally aware construction, from the sourcing of materials, to the way in which the homes are heated, and access their power and water. Even the physical design of the houses will often be influenced by the future inhabitants. One of the defining features of a cohousing development, is that each community is planned in the context of its environment, and the requirements of the residents. Therefore, they vary enormously, and can exist equally well in urban or rural settings.

Most cohousing projects will also have some shared facilities, such as a 'common house' where there may be a kitchen and dining area, children's playroom, laundry, library and exercise area, etc. Residents actively participate in the management of the community as a whole, including property maintenance, and meet regularly to discuss any issues regarding the site. Each dwelling is privately owned, and while some residents will actively take part in regular community meals, these are entirely optional and householders retain total privacy within their homes.

Originating in Denmark, the cohousing movement has gained a great deal of interest throughout Europe, and in the USA and Canada in recent years, and is seen by many as a return to good, old-fashioned, community living.

With conditions in the housing market being as they are right now, it would seem that there has never been a better time to reassess the way we consider home ownership. Of course, the difficulty comes in financing projects in an economic crisis, but the very essence of cohousing relies on the ability of a proposed community to be able to work together toward a common goal.

There is a significant emphasis on creating a strong sense of shared responsibility in cohousing communities, and this appeals to many seniors and families alike, who wish to feel integrated with their neighbors by sharing such things as community gardening, car pooling and child care. Unlike other, perhaps higher profile, forms of intentional communities, co housing residents have no shared economy, and are not built on set beliefs or religions. While, naturally, leadership positions do exist within the community groups, a nonhierarchical structure is encouraged and decisions are made and shared by the residents. The focus is on creating truly interconnected communities, with an emphasis on quality of life for all.
Philadelphia Real Estate Guide: Find Northern Liberties real estate for sale. Use our one-stop service to search listings and get reports on this unique Philadelphia market.

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