What's an Intentional Community?

“An 'intentional community' is a group of people who have chosen to live together with a common purpose, working cooperatively to create a lifestyle that reflects their shared core values. The people may live together on a piece of rural land, in a suburban home, or in an urban neighborhood, and they may share a single residence or live in a cluster of dwellings.”
   - G. Kozeny

The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision, often follow an alternative lifestyle, and typically share responsibilities and property.  Intentional communities can be seen as social experiments or communal experiments.  The multitude of intentional communities includes some of the more well knows types such as;

  • Cooperative houses
  • Cohousing communities
  • Eco-villages
  • Co-Living spaces. 
  • Additionally, these also are part of the intentional community umbrella;
    • Monasteries
    • Kibbutzim
    • Hutterites
    • and Ashrams.

Additional terms referring to an intentional community can be;

  • Alternative lifestyle
  • Intentional society
  • Cooperative community
  • Collective settlement
  • Communal society
  • and Cutualistic community.

Communities Come in Different Intentions and Sizes

Intentional communities (ICs) are voluntary residential communities designed from the start to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork. ICs can be seen as social/communal experiments and they came in many different intentions and sizes. 

This umbrella term encapsulates a broad range of living arrangements ranging from Cohousing which is a type of large-scale (multi-million dollar) residential project to smaller Shared Housing arrangements with a group of people sharing a single-family home.

Then there are many variations in between, such as: Eco-VillagesCo-LivingKibbutzim, Collective Households, Cohousing Communities, Co-Living, Ecovillages, Monasteries, KibbutzimHutterites, Ashrams, and Housing Cooperatives.


Here are just a couple types of communities for illustration

Cooperative Housing
Cooperative Housing

Common Characteristics

Intentional Communities have common traits that make them what they are, as opposed to just a neighborhood of random people for example. Many other traits can be listed but this is meant to give you a general idea based on the more common ones.



Communities are a group that governs themself and decide who can join. This helps them maintain cohesion and assures that the people joining are a good fit to be part of the group. This helps the group choose people that will uphold the group's values and norms.


Self Governance

Communities typically have a way to self-govern themself, otherwise, it would be difficult to work together towards the shared values and goals that the group has. Common governance styles include Sociocracy or consensus decision-making. Keep in mind that different hybrids of these models exist too.


Shared Values and Vission

Communities have shared values or core principles that bring members together. They can range from as simple to just living together in harmony to more grand utopian visions. Some examples of shared values that bring communities together include having a greater sense of connection, spiritual beliefs, to living in tune with the environment.