Community Living – Benefits of Living in Cohousing

Benefits of Living in Cohousing & Prairie Sky Cohousing in Particular

Benefits of living in cohousing & Prairie Sky particularly

Imagine having your friends living next door rather than across town or in another part of the country. It may not be perfect, but it is our Village in the City and a true oasis of calm in the hectic storm of everyday life.                                                                                                         …….  from a Prairie Sky homeowner

Like an extended family or village, cohousing is a modern response to how we used to live and provides the same benefits and supports that we enjoyed in those times. It raises the meaning of “many hands make light labor” and “recharging your batteries” to new heights.

This document responds to a question about savings achieved by living in Prairie Sky (PS) or cohousing in general. An opening comment on this is: when asked, an over-riding viewpoint from virtually all members of Prairie Sky is that you save money on everything. The following summarizes this somewhat.

Money savings

  1. Utilities – Gas and electricity for a similar sized bungalow overlooking Bridgeland was $350/month versus $140/month. Saving $2,500.00+ / annum of after tax dollars
  2. Because PS is self managed including maintenance of common areas things like: cleaning, gardening and snow removal; we save substantially with reduced condo fees mostly devoted to the Reserve Fund and capital items we wish to undertake. This might save around $200.00+ per month.
  3. Save cost on chauffeuring kids to play, lots of quality opportunities on site; and other parents to share chauffeuring responsibilities;
  4. Save airport taxicabs or parking fees when away.
  5. Saving on second vehicle costs or commuting costs (time and dollar savings) on account of proximity and convenient bus services and a shared car that is the second vehicle for 9 households;
  6. Tools or specialized equipment you do not need to buy because we already have at least one for common use (like lawnmower, snow removal, garden tools, wood working tools, food processors, serger / sewing machine, exercise equipment, freezer)
  7. No need to hire sub-trades to ”fix” things as we have very strong internal resources or even just help for all household fixes.
  8. Similarly technology skills are big in the community
  9. Don’t need a washer / dryer as there are common facilities for 50 cents a load; but a laundry hook up is provided in your home
  10. During garden season, save money on fresh produce from organic garden
  11. Common meals save you time and money (once a week and maybe another as pot luck)
  12. Bulk buying of food also saves money
  13. House concerts, talent shows, games nights, progressive dinners save money and provide rich social / cultural / recreation / leisure opportunities at home
  14. A home theatre system is shared by all in the common house lounge which saves on movie rental and admission costs;


  1. Child care very accessible
  2. Needing anything immediately, it is likely a neighbor has it;
  3. Ability to borrow things like skis, snowshoes, a car if yours breaks down or needs servicing
  4. Exercise readily available (lots of people walk, go to exercise activities, common house has yoga, a massage bed and other exercise equipment / functions)
  5. Lots of diverse knowledge / resources available on site from an amazing collection of high functioning individuals making mentoring very accessible
  6. Theatre, dance and other cultural events are often shared activities as well as leisure recreation activities like biking, hiking, cross country skiing etc.

Particular to Prairie Sky(PS)

  1. PS has a shared car which 8-10 households use as their second vehicle; the savings here is $5-8,000.00 per year or more;
  2. Car pooling is a common event to exercise classes, theater, hikes, or special events
  3. Electricity is 100% wind-powered through Bullfrog Power
  4. Water consumption is about 39% of Calgary’s per person per day household average
  5. Low maintenance exterior (hardi-plank siding and stucco)
  6. Energy efficient materials (triple glazed windows, cellulose fiber insulation) and fixtures (like dual flush toilets & fluorescent lighting) and appliances (HRV’s, gas stoves, energy star dishwashers, fridge, etc) These save on utility costs as pointed out earlier
  7. Water-wise landscaping
  8. Recycling so that the actual waste stream is about 25-30% of the average Calgary household
  9. Give away shelf for internal reuse of clothes or goods
  10. There are lots of musicians so lots of musical opportunities; a choir formed here, a couple of bands;
  11. Some affordable housing has been made available through limited rental accommodations.

Other benefits

  1. Casual social opportunities abound with a diversity of ages and interests;
  2. There is statistical evidence that people who live “in community” live healthier and happier lives (Don Buettner’s “The Blue Zone”; “Social Relationships and Health” by Sheldon Cohen)
  3. “The structure of our social networks, the support we receive from others, the quality of our social interactions, and our feelings of isolation and loneliness have all been identiifed as predictors of health and well-being” – American Psychologist, November 2004
  4. Personal safety and security is extremely high by “design” and “intention”.

Benefits for governments, municipalities and social support agencies &  organizations

  1. Reduced health care costs from people who live healthy disease-free lives
  2. Reduced costs of social support systems from people who are supported in their own community (no Meals on Wheels required, less loneliness & isolation, more sense of purpose & self-worth)
  3. Reduced costs of infrastructure. Less parking, roads, utilities, energy consumption, etc per capita.
  4. The “appropriate scale”, deliberate “living in community” design, and social and ecological merits of the lifestyle, provides huge savings in all three areas of government and allows the opportunity to truly age in place as in previous generations, without the rapid erosion of quality of life that currently takes place at the end of our lives, with commiserate effect on the social support network.
  5. Research and analysis of Blue Zone communities (inter-generational, with strong community supports) have no suicides, no alcoholism, no drug addiction, hardly any crime, no one is on welfare and there are no ulcers and other stress related disease. “Outliers, The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell by Little Brown and Company, New York Boston London, November 2008 (from Introduction, The Roseto Mystery)
  6. There are numerous other examples of the benefits of living in cohousing

In summary

The bottom line is that this is a “quality of life” choice made by residents of Prairie Sky, who were typical homeowners in various parts of the city like Scarboro, Hillhurst, Lakeview, Charleswood who have chosen to enhance our lives further by living “in community”. We all understand the benefits we get from this lifestyle choice and I don’t think anyone would trade for their previous condition.

If you want to find out more about Community Living, Shared Living and Green Products or Green Living in general, please go to the Coville Challenge website

This entry was posted in Personal growth, community development, energy efficiency, green living and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>