• 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)

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
National
Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court
Photo: TT

Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court

A teenage boy who painted anti-Israel slogans and symbols on the Concert Hall in Gothenburg has been convicted for the damages he caused, but he walked free from racial agitation charges. READ  

Politics
Israel's ambassador recalled from Sweden
Israeli ambassador Isaac Bachman. Photo: TT

Israel's ambassador recalled from Sweden

Israel has recalled its ambassador from Stockholm "in irritation" that Sweden has officially recognized the State of Palestine. READ  

Entertainment
A closer look at Sweden's rising stars
Swedish actresses Sandra Huldt and Julia Ragnarsson. Julia (right) has been nominated for a Rising Star award. Photo: TT

A closer look at Sweden's rising stars

Like to be ahead of the game when it comes to the next big thing on the silver screen? We find out more about the Swedish nominees for the Rising Star award to be presented at Stockholm's International Film Festival next week. READ  

Science
Swedish women in two-year sex pill study
Contraceptive pills have been linked to mood swings. Photo: Shutterstock

Swedish women in two-year sex pill study

Three hundred women from across Sweden are taking part in a study designed to demonstrate that modern contraceptive pills don't lead to decreased libido or mood swings. READ  

National
Stockholm 'sinking' oil spill ship safe
The ship was rescued on Thursday. Photo: Swedish Coast Guard

Stockholm 'sinking' oil spill ship safe

After fears a ship carrying around 52 tonnes of oil could sink in Stockholm's archipelago, Sweden's Coast Guard said the vessel had been towed to safety. READ  

National
Dog attack policewoman acquitted on appeal
A scene from a video of the attack published by Dagens Nyheter

Dog attack policewoman acquitted on appeal

A policewoman accused of letting her dog attack a drunk man while she repeatedly hit him with a baton, has had her conviction overturned by a court in Stockholm. READ  

Entertainment
What's On: October 31st - November 7th
Uma Thurman will soon be on her way to Stockholm. Photo: TT

What's On: October 31st - November 7th

Halloween fun and an international film festival are the big events hitting Stockholm this week. We cast our eye over the capital and the rest of the country for the best activities to check out this week. READ  

International
Pirate Bay Swede found guilty in Denmark
Gottrid Svartholm Warg. File photo: TT

Pirate Bay Swede found guilty in Denmark

Sweden's Pirate Bay Founder Gottrid Svartholm Warg was found guilty of hacking crimes in a Danish court on Thursday. READ  

National
Malmö loses out as rare toads move in
The European green toad. Photo: H. Krisp (WikiCommons)

Malmö loses out as rare toads move in

After a rare species of toad moved into southern Sweden's Malmö, builders have had to tone down massive expansion plans in the area. READ  

Politics
Palestine recognized as state by Sweden
Sweden's Foreign Minister is Margot Wallström. Photo: TT

Palestine recognized as state by Sweden

The Swedish government has officially decided to recognize Palestine, with the move announced in a speech by the country's new Foreign Minister Margot Wallström. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween
Sport
Top ten quotes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
People-watching: October 30th
National
Sweden remains fourth best for gender equality
Blog updates

29 October

Scariest day (Blogweiser) »

"This is what’s frightening me on Halloween. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OFZVCu8J0&list=UUJu5J7jG4uoYSjWbpFsJBuQ Follow my posts on FB. ..." READ »

 

24 October

Editor’s blog, October 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Get ready to read our weekly digest of Swedish news in less than 60 seconds. The..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sport
World Cup ski race on 'fake' Stockholm slope
Society
An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft
Society
Stockholm taxis offer free therapy sessions
National
The Local meets Health Minister Gabriel Wikström
Gallery
Property of the week: Österåker
Society
Homeless turtles get Stockholm police ride
National
Construction worker has 'Sweden's best beard'
National
Italian musician jazzes up Sweden's Lapland
Gallery
Zlatan's career in pictures
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: October 25th and 26th
Lifestyle
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
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

970
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
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
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