1. What is Bay State Cohousing?
Bay State Cohousing is a group of people living together in a cohousing community. We served as our own developer, designing and building a community of 30 households in Malden, Massachusetts. Our four generations of families, couples, and singles have a wide variety of tastes and interests. The goal of cohousing is to find “the old neighborhood” feeling, where people not only know their neighbors but are part of one another’s lives. It is important to us that our members can age in place and that parents have the support of their neighbors in raising children.
2. Are you a commune?
We are not a commune. Bay State Cohousing is a cohousing community. In cohousing, units are privately owned and fully self-sufficient in the same way that condominium units are. That means as a member and owner, you have your own kitchen, bathrooms, living room, and in larger units, bedrooms. When you close the door of your unit, you are assured the privacy of your own space. There is no income sharing. And only the common spaces are shared. For more information about cohousing, see What Is Cohousing?
3. So, are you just a condo?
Legally and in terms of ownership, we are organized as a condominium. That said, we differ from a typical condo in design and concept. Our private units are designed around a 5,000 square feet of common space. While some condos have common amenities, this is a far larger ratio than usual. It includes children’s play areas, exercise facilities, art and music spaces, a workshop, decks and gardens, as well as a “great room” suitable for a common meal of 70 people, a kitchen large enough to cook such a meal, and multiple living rooms and multi-purpose spaces. We share and govern these amenities as a community because we believe the joys and efficiencies in such an arrangement are as important as sustainability and living lightly on the land.
4. Will I have to rent the common spaces?
The common house functions as an extension of your private unit. In cohousing, common spaces are used freely and often. Creating the opportunity to run into neighbors and spark conversations is a goal, so the common spaces are designed to facilitate interaction. This also differs from most condos, in which the clubhouse is locked unless rented. Donations may be requested for holding meetings of outside groups or office meetings, but this is a community decision. Residents just reserve the rooms on the community calendar.
5. How much community is there?
We seek a balance between the private and the shared. While engagement with governance and maintenance is necessary, participation in events is by choice. Members pick and choose between events and maintenance tasks. Like most cohousing communities, we share the maintenance of our common facilities and grounds the same way we shared their development. There are weekly common meals cooked by a rotating team of residents who have chosen to participate. Aside from this, our members’ passions and hobbies result in all sorts of movie clubs, game nights, holiday traditions, and outings. Community engagement is expected, but in cohousing there are fairly wide ranges in type and amount of engagement. No one will ostracize you or kick you out because you’re too busy at home or work this week or don’t like gardening.
6. How is the community child-friendly?
Bay State Cohousing is a great place to raise kids. Our community has indoor and outdoor children’s play areas, secluded from the street and in clear view from common spaces. Beyond the facilities, cohousing offers particular benefits to children and their parents. In a community of trusted neighbors, children can run freer than is typical in today’s cities. Proximity makes it easier for neighbors to watch one another’s kids, or to take them along to the zoo or museums. Not only does this help busy parents balance everything they need to do, children can grow up knowing many adults as friends. Cohousers report that their children grow up with a better understanding of adult life and are better prepared to take on adult roles when grown up themselves.
7. Where is the community?
We are in a walkable residential neighborhood in Malden, Massachusetts:
- 4 minutes’ walk to Malden Center MBTA Station:
- Orange Line Service to Forest Hills via North Station, Downtown Crossing, and Back Bay
- Commuter Rail on Haverhill Line
- Bus hub for 20 bus routes
- 6 minutes’ cycling: Northern Strand Community Trail, a bicycle trail for commuting into Boston or cycling up the coast
- 5-10 minutes’ walk: Stop & Shop supermarket, Walgreens, Dunkin’ Donuts, Bikeeny Cafe, Starbucks and Super 88 Asian Market
- 5-15 minutes’ walk: Italian, Chinese, Ethiopian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Indian, and American restaurants
- 5-10 minutes’ walk: Idle Hands Craft Ales, Hugh O’Neill’s Restaurant and Pub, and Faces Brewing Co.
- 5-10 minutes’ walk: Boda Borg, Wanyoo Gaming Co., 8D Room Escape and Board Games
- 2-15 minutes’ walk: Beebe School (elementary), Mystic Valley Regional Charter School (K-12), Malden Public Library, running track at Macdonald Stadium.
- 10 minutes’ walk: Fellsmere Park, with a tree-lined pond and fountains, and Middlesex Fells Reservation, a state park of 2,200 acres with reservoirs and over 100 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding (Source: Wikipedia )
8. What are the units like?
In individual units, we favor an open floor plan for flexible uses: even our smallest studio can host a holiday feast. The units themselves range from a 384 square-foot studio to a 1,222 square-foot three bedroom. They include all the amenities of modern, self-sufficient homes. While the design is important to us, it is typical of cohousing to place more focus on sustainability features than commercial housing.
9. How are you environmentally sustainable?
We have prioritized energy efficiency using exterior walls with an R-value of 40. The roof is designed to capture rainwater in barrels for watering our vegetable and herb gardens. It is also constructed to support solar panels. Highly energy-efficient boilers are used for heating and to bring fresh air into the building using a heat exchanging system that minimizes energy loss.
10. Is the community accessible for someone with a mobility impairment?
Yes, we designed with accessibility in mind. Often called “Universal Design,” the focus is on greater accessibility for everyone, because everyone is likely to be disabled at some point or the other. An elevator provides access to all floors. All private units will be visitable by a wheelchair. Any unit can be converted to be fully wheelchair accessible. We view this as essential to fulfilling our promise to help members age in place and to being an inclusive community.
11. Do I have to do laundry in the common house?
All private units are equipped with attachments for in-unit laundry. There are also laundry rooms on all three floors of the building. We want the opportunity to save on this large appliance expense without dictating that all laundry facilities be shared. The common laundry can be a pleasant place to encounter neighbors, and it’s a useful backup even for those who have private washers and dryers.
12. What about parking?
There is ample underground parking for cars and bicycles. The parking garage is wheelchair accessible by elevator from the interior and a ramp from the street.
13. Good story, but when should I get involved?
Although our residents have all just moved into our 30 units, we are still building a community of people interested in cohousing and in potentially purchasing a unit whenever one becomes available. If you are curious and waiting for the opportune moment, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We would love to meet you.