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What general area do you want to locate in? What type of housing do you want – apartment, townhouse, single family? What services or amenities do you want to have located close by? How many homes do you want in your community?* Answering these questions will help define the site criteria.

* A note about community size: Experience has shown that the ideal size for a cohousing community is in the range of 20 to 30 homes. Much less than 20 puts too much pressure on the individual to participate in community activities. Anything larger does not support the development of a close knit community.

The following provides an example of one possible process for defining site criteria:

Brainstorm (no evaluation at this point, the goal is to allow a free flow of ideas)

  • Potential desirable neighbourhoods
  • Building type (townhouse, apartment, combination apart/townhouse, etc.)
  • Features that you do NOT think you would be willing to accept (i.e. you would not move into cohousing if the site had this aspect) – be specific (example: a site that is further than 1 mile from a grocery store)

Ask each household to put a check mark next to categories they are in agreement with (you can check as many categories as you want to) then count the check marks. Any category where at least 50% of the group has put a check mark is included in the site criteria. Some members may not have their “not willing to accept” criteria included, but until you find a potential site, you won’t know whether this will even matter. And people have been known to change their mind. The attempt here is to support creating openness to the site that “shows up”.

Development sites are often difficult to find. Many groups spend years looking for a site without success. If you find a site that is “good enough” and there are households who have the financial capacity to commit to purchasing the site, it is worth taking the leap to create community. There are many examples where groups have chosen sites that were less than perfect, but they are now living in beautiful and successful cohousing communities.

Most completed cohousing communities in Canada have found a site using a real estate agent. Although residential real estate agents may have the knowledge required to provide good service in finding a development site, a commercial real estate agent is likely better able to serve.

Services

The information below provides an overview of the services that CDC can provide for this phase:

  • Work with the group to define general character and form of the community, to clearly identify the site criteria, and to identify resources that could help find a site
  • Once sites have been identified, provide initial feedback on site potential and feasibility
  • Help the group select the site to proceed with a feasibility study
  • Work with the group to negotiate an agreement to gain control of the property

For more information or to request a quote please contact: cdc@cohousingconsulting.ca