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Your Questions, Answered

What is cohousing?
Cohousing is an community centered around social connections where residents actively participate in the design and operation of their housing. Unlike traditional housing options cohousers know all their neighbours before they move in.

Is cohousing the same as co-op housing?
No. Residents own their individual strata units. Urban cohousing consists of private, fully-equipped condos and extensive shared space including a common house and recreation areas.

Is cohousing the same as social housing?
No. Cohousing is not subsidized by the government. Residents purchase their own unit and share in a common space for meals and activities. Nine of our units are sold at market rate, and three of our units are sold at roughly 35% below market rate through the innovative Affordable Home Ownership Program (AHOP). OUV is among the first developments in Vancouver to have AHOP units.

Will my unit have a kitchen? Do I have my own living space?
Yes. All units are self-contained and independent with full kitchens. The common house and community spaces are in addition to personal space, not a replacement for it.

How do urban co-housing communities differ from rural and suburban communities?
Most cohousing is suburban or rural because land costs are lower. For people who love urban living, cohousing is more challenging and requires new approaches.  OUV responded by prioritizing the amenities we really need and encouraging car sharing to reduce costs.  We think we can create functionality in a smaller footprint to reflect urban realities. Our commitment to sustainability is reflected in several ways: the built form of our building (passive house, modestly sized units), our choice of walkable, vibrant urban neighbourhood, and in our personal practices (we’re bike people!).

How do I balance neighbourliness and privacy?
All of us have different needs for together time and alone time that a co-housing community respects. Because you have your own unit, you can withdraw to recharge and then become more active as energy and time permits.  However, to feel connected to your neighbours, you’ll want to participate in common activities when you can.

What if I want to sell my place?
You own your condo and can sell anytime to whoever you want.  Many co-housing communities have a wait list of potential buyers. Usually, buyers want to meet with the community and participate in some meals to see whether co-housing works for them. And, usually, co-housers want to sell to people who are like-minded and will fit into the community.

Resources – Books and Noteworthy websites

Happy City:  Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, by Charles Montgomery. An inspiring view on what it takes to make neighbourhoods friendly by a Vancouver journalist.

The Abundant Community by Peter Block and John McKnight. This book delves into How to build a healthy community with staying power.

The nuts and bolts of building a cohousing project can be found in the following books:

Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett and The Cohousing Handbook: Building a Place for Community by Chris Hanson.

More information about cohousing and existing communities can be found at the Canadian Cohousing Network and the Cohousing Association of the United States.