Cohousing and privacy

The residents of Silver Birch Village consist of a wide variety of people who choose to live in this community so they can age out in a place where they have built relationships with their neighbours and can count on them for a helping hand.  Sounds good in theory, but does that mean that you are giving up your privacy when you live in cohousing?

At Silver Birch Village, all residents are financially independent of the cohousing community, each home is privately owned.  The only money transactions in the community involve monthly dues for upkeep of the common house and occasional special assessments.  You own your own home; social norms provide a structure that protects privacy. Neighbors would not walk into another’s home without knocking.  

Cohousing developments are designed to assure individual privacy.  At most cohousing developments, each home has its own private outdoor space.  If you need some alone time you can relax in your own yard or balcony.  However, if you would like to enjoy a morning coffee with your neighbour, there is always a communal area where you can sit and have a chat.  The need for private time and public time is recognized and respected.  There are structures put into place to respect this.  For example, in some cohousing communities it is recognized that if someone is sitting on their front porch, they are open to interacting with others.  If you are sitting in your back yard, you are looking for private time. 

Social gatherings are not mandatory.  This includes common meals.  Every home has its own kitchen facilities. However, the larger kitchen in the common area is available for those who choose to use it.

Some people see their daily walk as a chore, they need the motivation of a walking partner or group to make the time for it.  Cohousing makes it easy to reach out and find a walking partner. For others, taking a daily walk is their private time, a type of meditation.  There is no obligation to include a neighbour in this activity. 

In the Silver Birch Village community, there will be a high level of formal and informal interaction. Many couples have different personality types and needs for alone/group time.  If one person is more outgoing and the other is more private the cohousing model accommodates both of their needs. Residents can choose how much they engage in order to find the right balance between their privacy and the community. 

The point of cohousing is to build such a community where people are there for each other. Living at Silver Birch Villages requires a desire to actively live and participate in that community.  This does not mean that you give up your privacy.  The varying needs of the members of the community are respected. 

If you are interested in finding out more about cohousing, join us for a one-hour information session.

When : Wednesday, April 28th

Session One: 11:00 am with Janet and Carmen

Session Two : 7:00 pm with Peter and Ann

To register, contact Ann at

The sources used for this blog are the books Senior Cohousing : A New Way Forward for Active Older Adults and State-of-the Art Cohousing:  Lessons Learned from Quimper Village. 

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