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What makes cohousing unique?

Owning a home in a cohousing community is similar to owning a condominium, but here are some of the elements that make it different.

A sense of belonging

First and foremost, cohousing is about community—it’s about cultivating a closeknit neighborhood right outside your front door.

Shared outdoor spaces

Cohousing developments are carefully designed to foster connections among neighbors. Private dwellings are clustered along sociable, pedestrian-only spaces that lead to community gardens and green spaces only a short walk away.

A common house

At the heart of every cohousing community is the “common house” with a large community kitchen and dining area where people can meet for a cup of coffee or to cook and enjoy meals together. The common house at Prairie Hill is a busy place. There's often a jigsaw puzzle in progress—and who can resist stopping to add just a piece or two? People gather in the living room for meetings and community events, and use the activity room for crafts and exercise. We also have two guest rooms, a laundry room, and a great playroom for kids. Recently, we built a new shared workshop. All of our mailboxes are located in the common house so we get to see each other often.

Smaller footprint/greener living

Individual living units tend to be smaller than usual. Ours range in size from 515 square feet to 1600 square feet. They’re built in accordance with environmentally sound principles, using energy efficient materials and techniques that will save money down the road. We have built to LEED certification and all buildings are solar ready.

Shared equipment/shared skills

Not everyone needs to own a chain saw, or a badminton set, or a 5-person tent. In many cohousing communities, items like these are shared centrally—and there's often someone nearby who can show you how to use them! At Prairie Hill, we have an appliance library where you can check out that tortilla press or sorbet machine that you really only use a few times a year. It's so great to have access to all those things without having to find room for them in your own home.

Dream and design together

Working in tandem with an architect and other professionals, group members have taken an active role in planning the design and structure of the community.

Shared responsibilities and decision-making

Responsibilities are shared and decisions are made using sociocracy, a consent process that ensures each person has an equal voice. Here’s a brief video introduction of the concept. Everyone at Prairie Hill takes part in one or more work circles responsible for specific aspects of the community.  As people join the group, they decide which circles best match their special skills, talents and interests.