Cohousing: A New Option for the Next Creative Phase

By Carolyn Schlam, March 20, 2015

Valverde Commons is a sustainable cohousing community for people over 55 located right outside of the Historic District in Taos, New Mexico. This is the place I’ve chosen to live in my semi-retirement years. My neighbors are artists, environmentalists, educators, and working professionals. Let me tell you about the concept that made me decide to move here from New York City.

Valverde Commons with Taos Mountain
Valverde Commons with Taos Mountain

Cohousing is a form of intentional community where members agree to live in separate dwellings but share in a close-knit community. Valverde Commons is built on 14 acres and has 28 separate lots where members can build a house to suit their lifestyle and budget, plus a common house for meals, classes, parties and the like, and a barn/workshop for common shared tools and a “messy” room for woodworking, ceramic and other arty projects.

The houses circle a beautiful 4-acre open space, which the landscaping committee, otherwise known as the “mavens of mulch,” are taking on as their canvas. Last year the group put in an inner walking path and surely before long there will be a gazebo, pond, and all manner of gorgeous native plants, trees and whimsical garden art for members to gaze upon and enjoy.

It’s not easy to put together a co-housing community, especially one as large and fine as Valverde Commons, but the community is now established and on its way to completion in short order. At the time of this writing, 20 of the 28 lots were sold and closed, 2 more under contract and only 6 still unsold. There are 11 houses built and occupied, 3 or 4 more due to be started spring, 2015, and a few awaiting their owners to retire and move to Taos.

Visitors are finding Valverde Commons on the national cohousing website,, and recent folks taking the tour with member Carolyn Schlam have hailed from California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Maine. They are loving the pastoral lands with horses, cows and goats grazing, the spectacular view of Taos Mountain, and the interesting mix of houses..

Commons neighbors in the Community House
Commons neighbors in the Community House

With variants of the pueblo and territorial styles so prevalent in New Mexico, the homes range from 700 to over 2500 square feet, many with artist studios, built to serve the needs of their owners. Many feature zero energy features, catch basins, solar panels and the like. Permaculture gardens, fountains, trees and unusual landscapes have been springing up as the creative bunch of residents brings their attention to their environment.

Meeting and potluck suppers are regular monthly events; there’s a zumba class every Tuesday and the group has recently inaugurated a tradition of cocktail parties. There’s a book club, other group meetings, and last summer the Common House even celebrated a wedding reception.   The group makes decisions on a majority basis, and is finding a balance between privacy and community. They consider Valverde Commons to be a joyous experiment in living well and aging in place with friends and neighbors.

For information and to tour the community, visit the website at and contact Carolyn by email at, or by phone at 575-751-3751.

Carolyn Schlam is a painter, sculptor, and writer. Her work is in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum and represents New Mexico on the Figure 50 website of figurative artists. Visit her website.

More Taos real estate opportunities at BeyondTaos.

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