In some ways living at Dôl-Llys is a bit like living in a friendly street or a small co-housing group. We each have our own front door but in addition we have extensive commonly shared amenities; these include two large reception/sitting rooms, washing machines and washing line, a heating system, a guest room, indoor and outdoor storage space, a summerhouse, gardens, polytunnels, a workshop and woodland fuel. Some chicken-keeping and Beekeeping. We find that sharing things and space encourages interaction and a more considerate and collaborative way of living that is more about “we” than “me”. It’s what a lot of people would call “give and take”. The link below is a 2019 BBC interview explaining life here.
Cohousing at Dôl Llys Hall
Each month we have a House meeting, a workday and usually a wood day and a garden day. In addition, we use a weekly rota system so everyone takes turns in the cleaning the communal areas of the house, opening and closing the poly-tunnels, tending to the chickens, and cutting the grass during the summer. Due to the size and age of the house and the size of the grounds there is usually other maintenance work to do to keep the house and the gardens looking good and tidy. It is important to be aware of the time commitment involved; although there is a lot to do it is not quite as daunting as it sounds. When everyone works together a lot of can be done relatively quickly and everyone can feel they have contributed.
The quality of life here can be very good; partly because Dol-Llys Hall is a beautiful house in a beautiful place but also because we try take account of each other and are committed to being a good neighbour. Dol Llys Hall offers.
- A characterful and affordable home that welcomes families, pets, couples and single people of all ages and differing outlooks.
- A good mix of privacy and communal living with the “buzz” of working together and from learning and sharing practical, rural and communal living skills.
- The opportunity to produce home grown food in the shared vegetable garden.
- The potential for neighbourly relationships to become friendships.
- The pleasure of living in and caring for an extraordinary Grade 2* listed building and extensive grounds
- 8 acres of deciduous woodland to stroll and play in and manage to support its natural processes including biodiversity and to produce fuel for the wood burners.
- A seasonal lake, a wildlife pond and lots of wildlife including Red Kites.
- Fabulous views, scenery, and clean air; the River Severn, the Llandinam Hills, Lakes, the Cambrian Mountains, long distance paths and cycling routes.
- Llanidloes town, ranked 3rd best town to live in in Wales (20-minute walk away) with a well-regarded primary and high school.
- Caersws railway station just 8 miles away with services to the Ceredigion coast and Shrewsbury and Birmingham.
OK! – What’s the Catch?
Co-housing isn’t for everyone. The UK Cohousing network has a good section to help you work out if this way of living is for you and an excellent frequently asked question sheet.
Here is a sneak preview of some of the things they point out that we think are important.
- Having to give up some autonomy. You still have autonomy over what you do in your own home but recognizing that different people have different priorities and having to negotiate and accept compromise over the communal space and facilities can be frustrating and time consuming. It’s a trade-off and works for those who enjoy and value the advantages of jointly running things, the richness of group activities and the pleasure of living in a place like this which would probably be unaffordable on your own.
- Meetings and slower decision making; This is one of the main challenges of cohousing but is outweighed by the other benefits of community living for most people.
- If you are someone who would enjoy living a rural setting just outside town and is willing to pitch in your time and energy, can let go of some short-term personal preferences for the long-term interests of the wider group, can hold yourself accountable, would be at ease with others discussing and approving (or not) any changes you want to make to anything communal and can work through disagreements and conflict constructively then this way of life might just be for you!