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First steps - thinking about cohousing?

If you have decided that Cohousing is for you (see about cohousing), there are three ways to make a reality of that decision.

  • Join an existing community
  • Join a developing group
  • Start a group - see options on types of cohousing. Also check out our Shout Out page for notices of new groups forming and the list of groups

Join an existing community
Existing communities are listed on the UK Cohousing Network website and many are also in Diggers and Dreamers. When houses become available in those communities, they are often advertised on the website. However, it is worth getting in touch with communities which interest you, whether or not houses are advertised. Remember that many longer established UK Cohousing groups only have houses for sale and do not have rental options. This is because there was no support from public bodies such as Housing Associations to enable those communities to develop rental units. Where there rental options, you may have to meet the criteria of the Housing Association providing the rental units. 

The community may have different introductory processes before you can buy or rent a house. The community will usually be looking to keep a balance of household types/ages/occupations etc and may also assess the extent of the contribution to community life which they think the incoming household may make. A conveyancing solicitor may not used to cohousing may find the lease unconventional. They will be obliged to draw your attention to non standard clauses which may include provisions around your obligations to the community, the community’s rights when you sell the house and decision making.

Join a developing group
Again most forming groups are listed on the website. When considering joining a forming group, you will want to take your own view of: 

  • Type – is it inter-generational or senior? If you are eligible to live in a senior community, would that be right for you?
  • Vision/philosophy – is there one? Is it compatible with your view of life? Core values are not an area for compromise!
  • Location/size – the group may have views on this. Equally, this is an issue which often is an area for considerable compromise. When a suitable site comes up, issues about exact location etc may have to be shelved in favour of making the project actually happen.
  • Organisation/capacity – how does the group manage its business and divide up tasks? Do you have confidence in its ability to manage this formidable project? Does it have the necessary skills? Where will you fit in?
  • Finance – is there a clear plan for costing the project and raising the finance? Do you have a sense of what it will cost to live there (it may not necessarily be cheaper – you have to support a common house and shared land)
  • Other members – do you want to live with them?

Start a new group
Not for the faint hearted! Expect it to take somewhere from 2 – 5 years from convening your first meeting to starting work on site. Many groups fall by the wayside for this reason. On the other hand, the opportunity to create your own community, see it rise brick by brick from the mud and then develop your own way of living is an experience which is comparable perhaps only to conquering unclaimed mountain summits. If it is to succeed, expect it to take over your life for the period of the development.

See webpages on the 'types of cohousing development'. Cohousing can be new build, involve property rennovation or retrofitting cohousing principles in streets/apartment blocks where people are already living.

How can I find a group where i would like to live?

Our 'cohousing groups' listings on our website is the best resource for finding out about cohousing communities, developing and estblished around the UK

Also check out the Shout Out pages of notices on this website including messages from people seeking to start a cohousing community. If you are an indivdual member of the Network you can post a message here too by contacting the Office. 

Finally join in the conversation on facebook (UK Cohousing Network) and twitter @UKCohousing

Useful books

  • Cohousing in Britain- A Diggers & Dreamers Review. 
  • Creating a Life Together. Practical Tools to Grow Eco-villages & Intentional Communities. Diana Leaf Christian
  • Finding Community. Diana Leaf Christian.
  • Creating Cohousing. Katie McCammant & Chuck Durrett.

Youtube – search by “cohousing” to find a number of videos.