A lot of the articles I've been doing for Money Crashers deal with various aspects of the sharing economy. I've covered tool libraries, toy libraries, community gardens, seed exchanges, and community cafes. Sharing is an inherently ecofrugal concept, because it saves both money and resources to have two people share one thing - whether it's a lawn mower or a plot of land - rather than each buying their own.
Now, in my latest Money Crashers article, I'm getting into a way to share something even bigger: housing.
I don't mean sharing a home the way a family does (though I covered that to an extent in my article on the costs and benefits of marriage). What I'm talking about here is cohousing: a type of intentional community in which people have both private homes and shared spaces that they care for as a group. So, for example, you can have your own bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen—but your laundry room, which you don't need to use that often, can be shared with others so you don't each have to shell out for a separate washer and dryer. You can also share a workshop stocked with shared tools, a big communal kitchen that can hold all the seldom-used gadgets you don't need cluttering up your own kitchen, and other spaces like a garden or a playroom for all the kids in the community.
Of course, living in cohousing does take a bit of work. The whole group is responsible for taking care of these shared spaces, so you have to divvy up the chores and hold regular meetings to deal with maintenance and other issues. But for many people, it's well worth the effort to be part of a real community where neighbors don't just wave at each other over the fence—they also share meals together, watch each other's kids, put on plays or concerts together, and help each other out in difficult times.
If this sounds appealing to you, you can learn more about how it works here: Communal Living & Cohousing – Types & Benefits of Intentional Communities. I cover the structure of a cohousing community, the different types that exist, and the financial, environmental, and social benefits of living this way. And, at the end, I provide information on how to find a cohousing community in your area, or possibly even start your own.