Can cohousing help young families stay in the city? Maybe.
Many young couples head for the suburbs when their first child comes along, seeking more space and a big backyard. But, many more, we think, would happily trade a long daily commute for city living if there was a viable option. Our cohousing community is offering an alternative for young families who want to stay in Vancouver.
“We can’t do much about the sky-high land prices in Vancouver, but we can help families live smarter by sharing resources and providing a richer community experience.”
— Kathy Sayers
“If we live in a building with great amenities and other young families, we don’t need a yard,” says Aaron Donovan, father of two pre-schoolers. “I really like the idea of my kids having built-in friends (no playdates required).”
The community amenities include a guest suite. “Knowing my friends and family can visit and have their own space means I don’t need to pay for an extra bedroom,” says Kathy. In Vancouver, that extra bedroom can run $100,000-$150,000.
Avoiding long commutes also saves money on car expenses.
“Our community has already committed to car-sharing and we will have no privately-owned vehicles onsite,”
— Gillian Sykes.
In Vancouver, forgoing a parking space saves about $50,000 per unit. Our bikeable neighbourhood with many transit options offers us flexibility in getting around the city.
Then there’s the stuff that cohousers tend to share – like sports equipment, power tools, kids’ toys, small kitchen appliances (and those unstorable large pots we all have). Because we share so many things we only use occasionally, we need less storage than most households and that makes it easier to live in less space. Cohousers tend to buy smaller homes than other families, which in our expensive city, translates into less housing costs.
Cohousing is never below market price because of the extensive common space we need to share meals and activities. But over the long haul, there are savings because of shared resources and “services” like babysitting exchanges among young families and, typically, lower condo fees because cohousers tend to self-manage their communities.