Starting a Commune

What You Need:

  • A house, preferably with several outbuildings
  • A group of open-minded, perfectly matched people with complementary skills, goals, and life philosophies
  • A goat
  • A chore sign-up sheet
  • A casual relationship with the notion of privacy
  • “On Liberty” by John Stuart Mill
  • The collected works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
  • A natural inclination toward egalitarianism
  • A belief in the inherent benefits of “intentional communities”
  1. Move into house.
  2. Get along.
  3. Garden.


Rules are naturally a touchy subject.  If you are starting a commune, you’ll need some guidelines in order to prevent complete chaos, but it is best to keep them to a few, if only to avoid the several day-long house meetings required to decide which rules to make and how to follow them. The first you might consider “Everyone gives something, and everyone gets something back.” If you didn’t do your part (e.g., you refuse to help paint the porch) you’re asked to leave.

Television is generally discouraged in communes, mostly because the number of people makes it hard to decide what to watch. 

Once you accept that everyone has an equal responsibility to share in the commune chores, you can immediately begin trying to get out of them.


There is nothing better for a commune than a good-sized vegetable patch. A few tomato plants, some basil, and some rhubarb will keep you busy for the better part of a summer. Everyone can participate in the garden’s care and harvest. Because all residents are participating, the garden is truly a product of the community and a central element of commune life. Also, a bountiful garden can feed a bevy for several months—longer if produce is jarred or frozen.

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