This is part of a series of essays related to cohousing. For more information, see the introduction here.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

A hard truth faced by many with dreams of living in cohousing is that currently, cohousing is not a model of affordable housing. It feels like it should be, but I find myself having to explain time and again that it’s people with some means that typically live in cohousing communities. Moreover, they often go to great lengths to live in these communities, including leveraging their personal finances in difficult and creative ways.

So cohousing is not affordable housing. Not in North…


This article first appeared in Communities magazine, Spring 2020.

I live in a corner of North America, the Canadian province of Quebec, where a lot of good news is missed by the wider English-speaking community for a lack of translation; the history of La Maison des RebElles is one of those stories. La Maison des RebElles, which translates to The House of Rebels (Elle is capitalized as it means “her”), is a collective that has been working for over four years to establish North America’s first affordable collaborative housing community for 55+ women — in particular, lesbian and bisexual women and their allies.

The group has 11 founding members…


This is one of a series of essays related to collaborative housing, also known as cohousing. For more information, see the introduction here.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

When cohousing is described, there is often a list of characteristics, which includes one negation — no shared income. This negation is there primary in order to differentiate cohousing from other historical examples of intentional or Utopian communities, such as the Oneida Community, or more recent examples such as the Twin Oaks Community, where labour and income are shared. As you might imagine, just as how financial matters can be contentious in a familial context, sharing income…


This is one of a series of essays related to cohousing. For more information, see the introduction here.

Photo by Nikoline Arns on Unsplash

A goal for many communities in their forming and development stage is to welcome a diverse group of people from multiple generations. This is well and good, and if this is a goal for your community — you go for it. Bear in mind of course, that diversity presents certain challenges and so I would like to share a few observations that might not be immediately obvious at the outset. …


This is one of a series of essays related to collaborative housing, also known as cohousing. For more information, see the introduction here.

Photo by Juri Gianfrancesco on Unsplash

Without fail, when I talk with people about collaborative housing or any kind of more intentional community-led development process, the issue of conflict emerges. Most often this comes up via some anecdotal horror story of an experience with a condo board or a “crazy” neighbour. This is often presented as a warning as to why collaborative communities couldn’t possibly work. If one were to take a moment to reflect on this argument, it might become clear how…


IT IS POPULAR today to claim that polity is giving way to tribalism, whether of the partisan or lifestyle-politics variety, making a widely shared understanding of the challenges we face, and the possible solutions to them, feel out of reach. In such a situation it would seem foolhardy to try to invite closed-up people into a deeper form of civic engagement.

Regardless of how much weight you give to the “new tribalism” argument, there are tried and tested ways of bringing people together, even at the intimate level of the household, that negate the pop-culture naysayers. …


Community led development can be beautiful for the way it looks AND the way it feels. Pictured above is PDX Commons — a place where it’s members will age with the support of friends and neighbors. Image from Cohousing Solutions.

I was very honored to be asked to talk at the most recent Chancellor’s Builders and Friends Dinner on October 25, 2018. I was asked to speak about my research into cohousing and it’s relationship to the concept of smart cities.

It’s just 3 mins long, so as a person who is, despite my best efforts, getting increasingly academic, you can imagine what a feat it was to keep it that short.

To learn more about Concordia University’s ambitious Next Gen. Now. Campaign and all the people who are going to make it possible , visit — https://www.concordia.ca/campaign


This is part of a series of essays related to cohousing. For more information, see the introduction here.

A neighbourhood development project

As mentioned in a previous posting, but worth mentioning again — cohousing communities are not custom housing projects, they are custom neighbourhood projects. As an individual in an individualist society, it can be a bit of a challenge to wrap your head around this. …


This is part of a series of essays related to cohousing. For more information, see the introduction here.

Part of the dining room of Vancouver Cohousing, with wonderful views on the community’s lush courtyard (note the acoustic panels on the ceiling).

The dining area in the common house is not a restaurant.

The dining rooms of cohousing communities are often multi-purpose spaces. Yes, community members prepare meals and eat together in these spaces, but they also meet, plan, and play in these spaces. The initial design of these large and often open spaces are most often oriented towards dining as the central purpose and this often leads to acoustic issues. In a restaurant setting, ambient noise such as the hum of people or the clang of china provides people with a kind of acoustic…


Learn how to be a better neighbor before moving in and continue to work on these skills while in community.

This is one of a series of essays related to cohousing. For more information, see the introduction here.

Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

There is an oft-cited quote that circulates in cohousing communities and it goes something like this:

“Cohousing is the most expensive personal growth course I ever took — but it came with a free house!”

While partly in jest (there are sadly no free homes), I was struck by the high level of maturity exhibited by most of the people I spoke with. This was especially true in talking about some of the more challenging aspects of living in intentional communities.

It…

Cheryl Gladu

PhD, MBA. An engaged design and management scholar focused on tools that empower people to live simpler richer lives. www.cgladu.com

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