Northern Rivers and Beyond

Our get-togethers are about learning skilful ways
to communicate our feelings and needs,
discussing housing options and preferences,
and getting to know each other well.
We are building the social foundation.

Cohousing Northern Rivers

Baugruppen. It might sound like a mouthful but this German word could be the answer to Australia's housing affordability woes — or at least a new way to look at the problem.

Literally translating to "building group", baugruppen in effect cuts out developers from developments. The idea is that a group of interested purchasers come together and collectively fund their own multi-unit housing project. They are often helped or led through the process by architects, and they get a say in what their resulting homes look like. Generally, these homes have a focus on quality, sustainability and shared community facilities.

Research has shown that buyers can save up to 30 per cent through such "deliberative development" (the opposite of speculative development). It's basically like paying wholesale prices on homes, rather than the marked-up retail price.

Housing affordability and its social impact is emerging as a major concern throughout Australia. The largest element in household budgets is housing, and house prices have skyrocketed relative to incomes. Strict land use regulations and skewed government policies are placing large segments of the population under stress with negative impacts on social harmony, health and contentment.

According to Political Science economists Paul C. Cheshire, Max Nathan and Henry G. Overman "Housing affordability can be expected to deteriorate more, with dire economic and social consequences. The problem is utterly unviable in the long term. With every passing decade it would get worse, the wider economic costs would become more penalising, the monetary policy more unmanageable and the outcomes more unacceptable."

Cohousing is a development model that can deliver affordable housing, low impact living and resilient, happy communities. Cohousing is a concept wherein suitable blocks are adapted to accommodate two, three or more smaller dwellings with some shared spaces, reducing the overall physical, financial and environmental footprint per household.

Cohousing residents are consciously committed to living as a community without diminishing the privacy of the individual households. Careful preselection, awareness and communication enhancing meetings, sense of connection, and the physical design encourages both social contact and individual space, as well as more efficient use of general resources.

The composition of Australian households is changing: our population is ageing and over 30% of households will be single person households by 2026. Social isolation is a serious emerging issue. There are signs of new, more collaborative paradigms for semi rural living arrangements.

Cohousing has potential to make buying or renting a home cheaper but also enables sharing of bills, cars and household goods, as well as trading of services like babysitting and care for the elderly. As households collaborate to share resources an informal sharing economy grows, leaving many financially better off.

Company title is an interesting alternative legal structure. It is generally much simpler from a planning approvals perspective and in some cases may be doable within existing development controls.

Cohousing Northern Rivers

Making it work well.

Selecting people who feel comfortable with each other, enjoy each others company and basically like each other gives any common project a great advantage. So the chemistry between prospective residents is very important. Our meetings contribute to getting to know each other well, building bonds, feeling comfortable with honesty, recognising our boundaries, needing no pretending nor tiptoeing around each other.

Our hope is that we may discover similar attitudes, interests, values and purpose; making harmonious land sharing both possible and enjoyable. It is envisaged that community members will have independent lives, and will balance privacy with choosing their own level of engagement.

Open and aware communication is a strong foundation for a peaceful, joyous, resilient and resonant community. Our preference is to allow things to evolve organically. Cohousing might also appeal to single people who want a viable, constructive, supportive, potentially enduring alternative for next stage of life....

For further details please contact

Cohousing: a lifestyle with community spirit built into the foundations.

Cohousing Northern Rivers

Resources and Links:

Awareness Play
Rural Landsharing Communities
Benefits of Cooperative Housing
Byron Shire Development Control Plan 2014
Social Dhamma
Findhorn Foundation
Regen Villages
Transiting to Advanced Civilisation
Aldinga Arts Eco Village
Brisbane North Eco Village
Mandala Community
Global Eco village Network
Smart Urban Villages
Thriving, Sustainable Communities
Sustainable Communities South Australia