How can I tell if cohousing is a good choice for me?
You wish to feel connected to the people around you, and you are willing to give up some autonomy for a higher degree of interconnection. You also possess resilience and flexibility. You have researched cohousing, and have a basic understanding of what it’s all about.
How much socializing is there?
It depends on how much you want. In general, participation-optional common meals happen twice a week, and there is some sort of organized event at the Common House once or twice a month. There are frequent impromptu trips to nearby restaurants, games in the Common House Living Room and movies in the Rec Room. In the summer, there are frequent gatherings on the lawn or around the grill in the evenings and on weekends. If you want to socialize usually you only need to hang out on your front porch or in one of the outdoor plazas. Most of us assume that people leave their homes when they want community and retreat into them when they do not.
Since a lot of the socializing is spontaneous, how much of it you experience will depend in part on how much you are around, on how busy you are, or whether you have unusual work hours. If you are gone a lot or find it difficult to respond to spur-of-the-moment invitations, you won’t experience as much of what Cascadia has to offer as you would if you like to or are able to spontaneously socialize.
How much time will it take?
It varies, of course, but a desirable level of involvement would be as follows:
- Attend Home Owner’s Association (HOA) meetings (1-2 times per month, 2-3 hours each)
- Participate in Work Parties (once a month for 3 hours)
- Serve on a committee or two (3-8 hours per month) or commit to some on-going task, such as cleaning the Common House
- Join the Meal Plan (roughly 2 work shifts per month, about 2 hours each)
This works out to 15-20 hours per month, which might sound intimidating as a lump sum, but actually you would be doing many of the tasks in a single family home. Some residents do considerably more than this. Some do less. We try to accommodate special needs and circumstances; communicating about your needs ahead of time fosters good will. Not participating at all hurts everyone.
Note that the above estimate includes work-type activities only. To enjoy living here, you have to have fun, too! Think about the ratio of socializing-to-work that you need in order to feel good, and figure that in when you estimate the time commitment that living at Cascadia might mean for you.
It seems like a good fit, but how will I know?
To some extent it’s impossible to know for sure until you’ve lived here a while. But doing the following will really help you get a sense before you decide to buy a home here:
- Be here and participate. Spend time doing diverse things with us, such as meetings, meals, work parties, and socializing.
- Ask pointed questions, of more than one person. Know that no single answer represents the whole community, and if the question is an important one for you, ask more than one person about it. Sometimes the question to ask is, “Who knows or cares a lot about this subject?” and then talk to them.
Despite myriad experiences with community living and intentional communities, none of us was sure that Cascadia would be right for us. But we were willing to risk it, and we’ve made it home. We will welcome you if you decide to join us on this adventure.