How to Start a Commune
Exploring the World of Co-Housing: Benefits, Challenges, and Starting Your Own Community
Communes or communal housing is more commonly known today as “co-housing”. Co-housing, according to Wikipedia is “is an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space. Each attached or single-family home has traditional amenities, including a private kitchen. Shared spaces typically feature a common house, which may include a large kitchen and dining area, laundry, and recreational spaces”. Co-housing may also be in the form of apartments in a building or portion of a building, such as the “Common space Community” in Syracuse, New York. As with any housing community, there are both challenges and benefits to living in a co-housing. Members of co-housing communities site health benefits thanks to the decreased loneliness, while others find the increased socialization daunting.
While most people seem apprehensive about joining an existing co-housing community, a lot of people want to know if it’s possible to start their own “commune”. While it may sound ideal, it’s also quite complex! Once you have 3 or 4 households that want to create a co-housing community, there are a lot of steps involved – in addition to finding the land or space you want to buy. According to co-housing.org, these are just the first steps you’d need to take in order to start your own co-housing project:
- Create a vision/goal statement to define the intentions and directions of the community.
- Create a group decision and communications process.
- Create a financial structure.
- Form an LLC (limited liability company) or incorporate.
- Create bylaws for the community.
- Open a separate bank account for the community.
- Collect assessments from members.
- Do your research and learn from already-operating co-housing communities.
Additionally, there are steps to register your community, various tax laws for co-housing, and of course, developing and building on the land or space you have purchased. So, if you do plan on creating your own co-housing community, be sure you know what you’re getting into! For more information, you can visit cohousing.org.
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