Senior Cohousing Handbook: Chapter 5 Notes and Mirador Musings

David Oesper

Prior to building your community, identify and address all issues as early as possible, before they turn into conflicts.

Smaller houses in a senior cohousing community provide the following advantages:

  • More affordable
  • Easier upkeep
  • Better materials can be used, providing a more comfortable place to live with less maintenance needed later
  • Common house provides some of the amenities you would normally have in a larger home

A typical smaller cohousing home is 600 to 1,000 sq ft. One bedroom, all-in-one kitchen-dining-living room, bathroom, and “plus room” (office or hobby room) off to the side. But...

At Mariendalsvej Senior Cohousing [in Copenhagen, Denmark], high-income prospective residents found one-bedroom 840-960 sq. ft. and two-bedroom 1,020-1,100 sq. ft. apartments to be too small.

milky_way Personal Note: The two of us have grown accustomed to living in a 1,600 - 2,500 sq. ft. home over the years, and we fully utilize just about all of that space. I’m not sure we could downsize to 600 to 1,000 sq. ft. How about you? If one or both of you snore, or keep very different schedules (night owl + early bird), it seems that two bedrooms would be a necessity. milky_way

Make sure you have enough tenants signed up and involved with the project before you build!

Without a strong core resident group to hold the line in terms of budget, there is real danger that costs will creep up beyond the reach of potential residents who are interested in the cohousing concept (already a limited pool of potential buyers).

Without the leadership of a strong resident group, the developer may not fully support, or perhaps even understand, the cohousing concept enough to see the project through with its original intent intact—that of creating a community.

Without a strong group process in which a group of people embark on the common task of developing the project, committing themselves, and taking responsibility, the opportunity for group formation and bonding is utterly lost, and the community itself might fail.

A “you can add the community after move-in” philosophy simply does not create cohousing. Prospective buyers cannot be forced to buy into the cohousing concept itself. An individual or family is either predisposed to cooperating with neighbors or is not—no one is going to be “talked into it”.

milky_way Do we want "cohousing stout" for Mirador, or "cohousing lite"? We do have a choice. milky_way


The Senior Cohousing Handbook, Second Edition, by Charles Durrett (2009): Chapter 5

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