I may have posted this already but I found some other questions so here it is again. Some are for the community to you, some may be good for yourself, and some are important to ask them.
You can’t really screen or stop people from buying or renting a house in cohousing due to fair housing laws (which are necessary) but if you could ask a few things and get to know someone and how they may or may not do in the community, Diana Leaf Christian (in her books) found some questions for us. Intentional communities who share property or have a different set of rules than cohousing, they can screen and have potential members go through steps up to about a year before they become a full fledged member.
Here are some of those questions:
- What makes you want to live here?
- What experience do you have in group living?
- What is your relationship like with your family?
- What have you accomplished in your life that you feel proud of?
- What are your pet peeves, things around the house that might really annoy you?
- What do you think other people might find irritating or hard to live with about you?
- Where are you on the neat and clean vs. cluttered scale?
- If you are feeling frustrated or upset with someone how do you decide whether or not to bring it up with them
- Are you willing to make efforts to resolve interpersonal conflicts?
- Can you tell us some about your mental health history?
- What do you want us to know about you?
- How have you supported yourself financially?
- Can you describe some of your long-term relationships?
- What was your experience in high school or college?
- Do you have a significant love and/or family relationship now? How long have you been together? Do you plan to live together in the community?
- Will you be able to meet our labor and financial requirements? how?
Diana says that the past can show us patterns in a person’s life but people do change and you can ask them how they have. She gives examples of people who seem to have red flags but are honest and work with the community on how to deal with the issues and have become great members. She also says not to make the screening process so strict that you wouldn’t have made it in if you had to go through it as a founder.
Some good questions a potential member asked me which led to some fun truths.(They had lived in a cohousing before, so they knew)
- Most cohousing are obsessed with organic gardening, is that true here too?
- When was the last time you had a big laugh living there and/or with your neighbors?
- Do they take everything so seriously?
- Are there lingering disagreements and resentments? Are there war zones?
I would also add:
- Can you say no and everything be okay? Is it a safe place to go against the crowd?
- When was the last time the conflict management team? How did it go? Is it used often?
- How is conflict dealt with?
- Have you used an outside mediator? What did you learn?
- How do you balance remembering your past and welcoming new members?