Cottage living in Scandia

These peaceful homes are in high demand.

Oakhill Cottages
Oakhill Cottages in Scandia

What if city traffic and skyways just aren’t your thing, and a monthly activities calendar sounds exhausting?

And would you rather grab a coffee at the Scandia Café than a Starbucks? Could you be tempted to volunteer at the open air Swedish Gammelgarden Museum (practically in your backyard)? Maybe you’d find inspiration in the Washington County Barn Quilt Trail installations on your way to the store?

Would you enjoy quiet landscapes and, on occasion, hikes through the William O’Brien State Park or other nearby trails?

Nestled among rolling hills and many beautiful lakes, the city of Scandia — about 10 miles east of Forest Lake — was the site of the first Swedish settlement in Minnesota. Residents of Scandia have done little to alter the character of the community, and residents enjoy reminders of mid-19th-century pioneer days and the rural town atmosphere.

Tucked into the center of it all is an independent-living development of 40 cottages for ages 55 and up — Oakhill Cottages — built in little clusters of five units each in the 1980s and ’90s. Each unit has its own well-lit walkway, entrance and back patio and is equipped with a stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer. There are 20 units with central air, 20 units with wall-unit air conditioning, and all homes have their own furnaces. Residents are responsible for heat, electricity and phone bills. Water, sewer and trash are included in the rent. There are handicap-accessible units, too.

The price? $676–$773 a month (704–900 square feet), plus $35 a month for a single detached garage (optional).

Not surprisingly, these units are in incredibly high demand, which means management offers an “interested parties list,” rather than a waitlist. Interested parties are contacted if an opening arises, but they aren’t guaranteed dibs on the place if another party inquires, ready with a deposit, when an opening occurs. In fact, some folks call the property every day to inquire. The same goes for the
30 cottages at John Jergens Estates in Forest Lake, which opened in 1990.

The Minnetonka-based Shelter Corporation, which runs more than 30 properties in Minnesota, Texas and Florida, operates the property. In July, the company is set to open The Glen at Valley Creek, a new independent living property for ages 62 and older in Woodbury.


WHERE: 14261 Oakhill Court N., Scandia

OPENED IN: 1988 with 20 more units added in 1995

OPENINGS? You can be put on an “interested parties list,” but rentals are granted on a “first come, first serve” basis.

AGES: 55 and older

NUMBER OF UNITS (AND SIZE OPTIONS): 40 cottages (one and two-bedroom units), all pet-free and smoke-free

COST: $676 for a 704-square-foot unit and $773 for a 900-square-foot unit. One-bedrooms are 12×14 feet with a spacious closet; two-bedroom units have slightly smaller bedrooms, but more closet space. Living/dining areas in both unit types measure 14×25 feet with 5×10-foot kitchens.

PROPERTY OWNER: Shelter Corporation — at 1600 Hopkins Crossroad, Minnetonka, 952-358-5100 — is affiliated with The Waters Senior Living, which has properties in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

INFO:, 651-578-2380

Karen Ritz lives in St. Paul and is actively thinking about housing alternatives — especially when she’s shoveling snow or trying to start the mower. She’s also an involved grandmother and the creator of, an online community for Twin Cities grandparents.