How many times have you just wanted to quit your day job, move to a property in the middle of nowhere with a group of people that share your values and just live your ideal life? If the answer is more than zero, you’re not alone. All over the world there are people living in intentional communities and doing just that.
Intentional communities are groups of people that live in the same area, sharing interests, values, and resources. The collaborative environment is supportive of mutual happiness and growth, while also being beneficial financially. These communities are available in many different areas, and focused on many various personal interests.
Here we will look into what defines and intentional commune, what sets it apart from communes, ecovillages, and religious communities, if there is a difference, and what it takes to participate in one.
What is an Intentional Community
An intentional community is a group of people who have elected to live together in a residential community and share resources, work, values, and follow an alternative lifestyle. They all benefit from collaborative use of tools, knowledge, social support, while developing positive social bonds in a mutually beneficial group dynamic.
What Is the Purpose of a Commune?
The purpose is to have a small community with common values live together to escape the expectations of outside society and sometimes work toward a common goal like being free to make art, raise communal families, or cultivate their own food.
What Are the Features of an Intentional Community?
Features of the community include having shared social, political, or religious values. They typically share either land or housing, and all contribute to the well-being of each other. They may also have shared responsibility for keeping the community thriving and come together to make decisions for the group as a whole rather than the individual. Intentional communities often have similar beliefs about how personal well-being contributes to the greater good of the group.
What Is an Example of an Intentional Community?
There are many familiar examples of intentional communities. Monasteries and communes count as do Ashrams and student co-ops. Intentional community is a fairly broad term so there are a lot of communities that fall under the intentional community label.
What Is the Difference Between a Commune and an Intentional Community?
A commune is a type of intentional community but not all intentional communities are communes. Communes typically consist of foregoing individual identity for the better of the community as a whole- not always giving up your identity but prioritizing the community over individuality. Communes also tend to be isolated from typical society and share all work, income, and ideals.
Are There Any Communes in the United States?
There are about 170 co-housing communities in the United States. It is difficult to get an exact number because many are off-grid but 170 is the number most stats agree on.
What Is an Eco-Friendly Village?
Eco-villages are intentional communities designed to be socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. They are not always off-grid or in the middle of nowhere, they can exist in urban settings as well as rural. It is similar to a commune or intentional community, as eco-friendly villages share common goals and values but the difference is that eco-friendly villages focus specifically on economy and environmental sustainability.
A commune is a type of intentional community but not all intentional communities are communes.
Living in an Intentional Community
What Does It Mean to Live In a Commune?
It means working with a community and typically requires you to give up your current way of living. Everyone in the group supports each other’s needs, but each commune has its own goals and values so what life is like will vary from commune to commune.
Here is a helpful video that provides insights into shifting lifestyles to one more oriented to specific social and sustainable living:
How Much Does It Cost to Live In a Commune?
Price of living in a commune varies from place to place. Some have monthly fees, some require you to buy a home on their property. The startup costs of starting a commune tends to be the most expensive aspect when you have to purchase land, property, or a building for everyone to live in including food, water, heat, etc. Some communes require a monthly payment that can be $700-$1,200, and some require you to pitch in with the mortgage or have entrance fees. Either way, the cost of living in a commune depends on the commune you intend to join.
How Do I Find an Intentional Community?
There are websites that can help you find intentional communities in the place you’d like to live. Word of mouth is also a great way to find an intentional community. A quick google search will pull up many good resources for finding an intentional community, just make sure to do background research of your own before applying anywhere.
How Do I Join an Intentional Community?
Websites that list intentional communities often include whether the community is open to new members. From there, most communities have an application process to make sure that new members aren’t dangerous to their community and fit their shared values and goals.
Creating Your Own Intentional Community
Can I Start a Commune?
Sure! But it takes a lot of very hard work. It’s best to travel around and live in a commune or two before committing to starting your own so you can understand how they operate. There is also a lot of literature out there that advises on how to start and participate in communal living. Most people living in communes are happy to recruit more interested members and share successes with interested parties.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Commune?
There are a lot of factors that go into determining the cost of starting a commune such as how much the land you intend to live on costs, how much you need to spend on materials to either build where you’re going to live or renovate it plus understanding what supplies you may need. It’s very difficult to pin down an exact number for how much it costs to start a commune as each one will depend on its unique needs.
How Do You Create an Intentional Community?
Before you create an intentional community you need to know why you want to start one to begin with. What in your current living situation isn’t being satisfied that you believe will be if you start a community? You also need to assemble the community, and this takes time. Even if you have friends that talk about wanting to join a community, they may not actually commit to doing it, also if you’re looking to recruit new members you’ll need to formulate an application and set of questions so not just any random person can join (this is how you get cults). If you want to start an intentional community, your best resource will be other intentional communities that have been established: they already know what worked and didn’t work for them and would share their advice.
Considerations When Creating an Intentional Community
Things to consider when creating and intentional community include: shared values, who will join, and conflict resolution
- Developing a Vision, Shared Values Statement, and Shared Beliefs – Before beginning a commune you need to make sure you have a specific set of shared values with the people who intend to join. As nice as it would be to just escape life and live in the woods with our friends, it’s just not practical if you all don’t have the same goals. A statement should be drawn up by the founding members of the community to express specifically what your values are so you don’t stray from them.
- Deciding who joins – Additionally you want to make sure everyone who joins shares the same values as you. Creating an application for people who want to join so you can know their intentions and values before they join is a smart idea. Interviewing potential members can help you gauge the vibes of a person to see if they’ll get along with the group.
- Decision-making/Conflict Resolution – Even if you have the perfect group of people as members of your community, we are all still human and arguments will happen. Therefore, before an argument breaks out your community should have a plan for settling the argument and really a plan for making any large decision so that no one feels under represented or abandoned.
Why Do Utopian Communities Fail?
Lots of reasons: members didn’t realize the commitment and work that goes into maintaining a community, people started to disagree too much, they ran out of resources, too many people left and not enough could sustain it. Sometimes their value system was so specific that they couldn’t recruit enough people to join in the first place. Others fail because they just didn’t have enough experience with intentional communities to make it work.
Here is a helpful video that provides insights into some of the challenges of intentional living communities:
Best States to Find Intentional Communities
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Best way to start or join a commune is to research local communities. Most places accept visitors and volunteers to help with daily tasks. Start with volunteering once or twice a week with your local intentional community to learn the ropes, talk to members, and figure out whether intentional living is truly for you.
Before beginning a commune you need to make sure you have a specific set of shared values with the people who intend to join.
Common Types of Intentional Communities
An ecovillage is a community of people that focuses on sustainability and living in ways that are better for the environment. Ecovillages can be located anywhere as long as they are living sustainably and in an eco-friendly way.
Cohousing focuses on building community through social connections and interactions. Neighbors live in close contact with each other to easily interact with each other. Sometimes it is due to shared values and sometimes it’s because of rent-sharing to ease the burden of that monthly payment.
Communes center around sharing possessions and responsibilities with other community members. Through sharing responsibilities like upkeep of their property, rent, making food, and other daily tasks, members of a commune can more easily focus on their common goals. Sometimes the goal is to allow people the time and space to create art, sometimes it is philanthropic efforts. Either way, commune members have more time and ability to do these things because they share all other responsibilities.
Student Co-ops have university students living together and sharing responsibilities of keeping the house and cooking meals. Usually they have a common interest such as a fraternity or sorority or a school club like sustainability club, etc.
A community of people living together to identify with and practice the Jewish faith.
A community of people living together to identify with and practice the Christian faith.
Helpful Books on Intentional Community Living
Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities
This book contains everything you need to know about how to create an intentional community or ecovillage from scratch. During the surge of intentional communities in the 90s, 90% failed where only 10% saw success. This book explores what makes a community successful and how to avoid being part of the 90%.
Ecovillages: A Practical Guide to Sustainable Communities
Ecovillages have arisen in response to the undesirable separation of humans from nature as we move more and more into cities. Though interest in Ecovillages increases as we move to more industrial means of living, there is a lack of literature on how to succeed as an Ecovillage. This book works to fill in the gaps.
Communities Directory Book (7th Edition)
The 7th edition of this beloved intentional community staple is an ever growing anthology of articles, advice, and statistics relating to intentional communities. This is the first stop on your journey to learning and living in intentional communities.
Together Resilient advocates for citizen-led, community-driven action rather than a reliance on governmental measures to make social and environmental change. If small groups of people can get together and make positive change, then larger change is possible.
Besides finding food and shelter, finding community is the most important part of survival. This book will advise you how to deal with the people aspect of intentional living: how to find your community based on a communal set of values and the importance of having a community in any day and age.
The Senior Cohousing Handbook
If you’ve ever had reservations about the way our senior citizens are treated in senior living facilities, this is the book for you. There are better options for our elders than sending them to a home where our senior citizens can retain autonomy, controlled independence, all while living in a sustainable and affordable community. This book details some of the better options for assisted living than our current status quo.
- Minimalism For Moms – Simple Living for Special People
- Family Minimalism – Have Fewer Things and Share More Love
- Minimalist Living – Daily Practices for a Simpler Life
There are more options than we are aware of for how and where to live. Just because moving to a city or suburb is the norm doesn’t mean it’s the only option. For decades intentional living communities have challenged the norm of community living in positive ways. And they will continue to do so for as long as people are interested in living away from societal norms.
How Do Communities Make Money?
The answer to this question depends on the specific community but there are plenty of ways to make money living in an intentional community. Most communities begin with pooling savings and sharing initial income. Later they might make some money from application/membership fees, or selling a product made on the commune at a local market or online. The idea being, it varies from community to community.
How Many Ecovillages Are There in the World?
Worldwide, there are over 10,000 ecovillages and each one has between 50 and 250 participants. If you’re looking for a community with a specific focus of interest, there is likely one available that is worth exploring.