• Sweden edition
 
Cohousing: it's not just for hippies anymore
Residents gather for dinner at the Dunderbacken cohousing community

Cohousing: it's not just for hippies anymore

Published: 23 Feb 2011 10:02 GMT+01:00
Updated: 23 Feb 2011 10:02 GMT+01:00

If you think collaborative housing means no privacy, then think again. These days, life in a cohousing community can include your own flat as well as a common dining room, library and even a gym shared with your fellow neighbors.

“It’s all about making life easier and meeting new people,” architect Ingela Blomberg explains.

“The idea is not to live with each other 24/7 but to share common spaces and have the option to socialise with your neighbors when you want to.”

For the last 30 years, Blomberg has worked with BIG (Bo i gemenskap – 'Living in a community') to promote cohousing communities and it seems like all the hard work has paid off.

“Thankfully it’s becoming more popular and we have seen an increase in applications to flats in those houses lately,” she says.

Blomberg also adds that she has noticed a growing international interest in cohousing.

“We held a big conference in May last year where people from all over the world took part. Sweden tops the European list together with Holland and Denmark and we seem to inspire others,” she explains.

There are currently 45 cohousing communities registered in Sweden, 16 of which can be found in Stockholm.

Most of the communities have rules that place certain demands on members living there, such as participating in a cooking team every 4 to 6 weeks.

According to a survey done by Swedish housing market website Boplats, one third of those questioned would like to live in a cohousing community with a modern twist.

Lina Wendt-Rasch from the Kupan cohousing community in Stockholm can see why.

“It’s the perfect solution, especially if you have small children,” she says.

Wendt-Rasch has lived in Kupan with her husband and two children for three years and says she finds it important to let her kids socialise with adults and other children from an early age.

“That was the main reason for moving here. In addition, my husband and I get the chance to talk to adults every day and having dinner ready and served definitely makes life less stressful,” she adds.

Dunderbacken, a brand new cohousing community in Stockholm which opened in August last year, was built in cooperation with municipal housing company Familjebostäder.

On a recent evening, resident Jörgen Larsson, one of 65 people living in Dunderbacken, is waiting for other members to show up for a study group meeting. He has lived at Dunderbacken since September and is very pleased with his choice.

“It’s weird that not everyone is interested in living like this, but I suppose it’s easier in a way to just shut yourself out from the world, watching TV, hiding under your duvet. It does take a lot of courage for people to socialize,” he says.

When asking if residents at Dunderbacken ever argue with one another Larsson laughs, saying: “The only thing we haven’t agreed on is that some of us want a gym and some of us don’t.”

Perhaps surprisingly, the founder of Dunderbacken, Birgitta Hambraeus, has a political past in the Centre Party, a centre-right party with roots in Sweden's rural communities.

“While collaborative housing was once associated with a left wing political stand, this is no longer the case,” Larsson explains.

“We have a mix of different kinds of people here.”

Becoming a member of a cohousing community does require a bit of effort, however, often requiring potential tenants to go through a number of interviews.

“My application was followed up by a two hour-long interview where they asked a lot of questions about me and what I could participate with when it came to study groups and so on,” new Dunderbacken resident Hans Letterblad explains.

But he believes the extra effort was well worth the trouble.

“I really like it here. There is always someone around and loads of activities to take part in,” he says.

Famijebostäder spokesperson Björn Jacobson hopes the company will build more cohousing community buildings in the future.

“We have built five cohousing communities since the 1990s and will continue as long as people are interested," he explains

"While most of those houses have an over-40 rule, we hope to see age groups mix in the future. It’s a great arrangement, especially for those living in big cities where people can get pretty isolated and lonely.”

Related links:

Malin Nyberg (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

20:47 February 23, 2011 by Ivan Juric
The proper term is Co-habitation or shared housing.
16:07 February 25, 2011 by rbsweden
Not really, actually. Both of those terms tend to imply living together and/or under the same roof. Cohousing has a broader definition and generally means that each person/family have their own private residences, free-standing or otherwise (not really just rooms) plus the presence of common facilities used by all. It could be in a large single apartment-like building, groups of attached houses or more common in the US, clumps of single family homes along with a building or two for the common facilities.

I very much like the idea and hope there are many more developments geared to this. It makes a lot of sense, but also brings with it lots of potential for 'group dynamics', which is certainly not to everyone's liking.
17:43 February 25, 2011 by HYBRED
Communial living was another 60's term. Nence;communes

So I guess if they are living like hippies all they do is have sex and smoke dope all day. With maybe marching in an occasional war protest.
19:05 February 25, 2011 by AsaKung
this sounds like college to me
09:30 February 26, 2011 by rbsweden
@Hybred - and the problem is...? :-)
10:05 February 26, 2011 by HYBRED
@rbsweden

No problem at all. Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner, but I have been busy trying to get in to one of these places.
23:27 February 27, 2011 by volvoman9
Judging form the age of the folks in the photo it must be quite a wrinkle fest. In some countries we call this managed care or assisted living. Or a Wrinkle Farm if you prefer.
09:47 February 28, 2011 by Rick Methven
When we moved back to Sweden we had an apartment in a communal living complex. A full range of residents from students to families with young kids and pensioners in sheltered accommodation.

Everybody lived their own lives but could also join the weekly communal dining once a week. There was a gym, sports hall hobby rooms and a weekly pub. residents could be as active as they wanted or not, as they chose. the only obligation was that once a month you had to take care of handing out keys to the various facilities that had been booked by other residents.

We only moved out because I wanted a garden of my own.
02:44 March 1, 2011 by volvoman9
Actually this sounds very cool.
17:09 March 2, 2011 by Valdir
'Cohousing'? I agree with Ivan: what sloppy English
08:55 March 26, 2011 by imeecruise
Need for newly constructed homes and new house revenue have been put on ice during the past few months of bitter cold. Here is the proof: Bitter winter chills demand and new home sales plummet The housing industry seemingly just can't catch a break. Revenue of brand new homes dropped by nearly 17 percent February. A more conservative climate among loan companies is being credited as part of the obstructive conditions.
Today's headlines
Sweden resumes aid to 'anti-gay Uganda'
Hillevi Engström and protesters against Uganda's anti-gay laws. Photos: Maja Suslin/Ben Curtis/TT

Sweden resumes aid to 'anti-gay Uganda'

Sweden has resumed sending development aid funds to Uganda, after suspending payouts back in March due to "anti-gay legislation". READ  

The Local List
Top ten coffee spots in central Stockholm
Fanny feels at home at the Blå Lotus. Photo: Isabela Vrba

Top ten coffee spots in central Stockholm

If you're wondering where to grab your next cappucino, then wonder no more. The Local talked to the locals in Stockholm and found out the best spots in town for the ultimate fika experience. READ  

Swedish neo-Nazis join fight in Ukraine
The Azov task force. Photo: Sergei Chuzavkov/TT

Swedish neo-Nazis join fight in Ukraine

Four Swedes are fighting with the Ukrainian task force Azov - a squad which flies a flag with Nazi symbols and, according to one Swedish soldier, fights for "a white Ukraine". READ  

Swedish elk get one-way ticket to Denmark
The elk in this picture are not the ones that will be sent to Denmark. Photo: The Uppsala Koala

Swedish elk get one-way ticket to Denmark

Up to a dozen elk will be transported from Sweden to Denmark in an effort to help maintain local marshlands. READ  

Sweden worst in EU at getting foreigners jobs
Photo: Henrik Trygg/Imagebank Sweden

Sweden worst in EU at getting foreigners jobs

UPDATED: Swedish citizens are the most likely to be employed in the EU, but Sweden is among the very worst when it comes to getting non-EU citizens into work. READ  

Man arrested for burning partner's face
Photo: Linn Malmén/TT

Man arrested for burning partner's face

Police suspect that a man in western Sweden is responsible for the extreme burns on his partner's face. The man has been arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault - and potentially attempted murder. READ  

In Pictures: Conchita Wurst in Stockholm
Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

In Pictures: Conchita Wurst in Stockholm

Eurovision winner and LGBTQ idol Conchita Wurst is in Stockholm this week for Stockholm Pride - and joined Swedes at Skansen for a colourful summer sing-along. READ  

Stockholm holds colour contest for new metro
Photo: Joel Bagon

Stockholm holds colour contest for new metro

Stockholm's new metro line is not set for preliminary construction until 2016, and will not be completed until 2022 - but Swedes already have the chance to vote for the new line's colour. READ  

Sweden's heat wave officially over
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Sweden's heat wave officially over

The heat wave that swept over Sweden recently has finally passed, meteorologists reported on Wednesday, promising cooler and more autumnal temperatures around the corner. READ  

Ukraine rebels release kidnapped Swede
Rebel tanks on the road to Horlivka in June. Photo: TT

Ukraine rebels release kidnapped Swede

The Swede who was kidnapped by pro-Russian rebels has been released after nearly three weeks of being held hostage - although no one knows where he is now. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Stockholm Pride kicks off
Analysis
The top six ways the US and Sweden differ
National
Swedish youth suicides hit 25-year high
National
Politician reported for selling 'negro ball'
National
Police turn blind eye to Swedish 'slave trade'
Blog updates

27 July

Approaching Stockholm (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

"I woke up in the comfort of my own little cabin on Eva and Rolf’s boat, it was 7:30am and I was feeling a bit groggy after a couple of beers with all the lovely locals the night before. The previous day had really taken its toll on my body and I was very stiff and..." READ »

 

24 July

Sharing our Pride: Celebrating Love & the LGBT Community! (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"It’s mid- July in Stockholm, and with much of the city on vacation, things can seem a little quiet – the streets, the bus, and the grocery store. One thing that has not paused for a summer break, though, is preparation for Stockholm’s Pride Festival, which will take place from July 28 to August 2...." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
Stockholm Pride: Allsång på Skansen with Conchita Wurst
Skatteverket
Sponsored Article
Introducing... ID cards and permits in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching, June 26th - 28th. Get inside Stockholm's hottest nightclubs
Gallery
Top ten Swedish taboos
Society
Seven-year-old Swede cycles to Berlin
Politics
'Gaza conflict needs help, not empty rhetoric'
Society
Swedes voted 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Business & Money
Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
National
Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Society
What's On in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching July 23
National
Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Society
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Gallery
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Tech
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
Lifestyle
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

751
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se