Co-op living

I’m a broke college student looking into my housing options for next year, and I’m thinking about living in one of the many co-op homes around the area in order to keep costs down.
I think of myself as pretty tolerant of most types of annoying behavior (sloppiness, being loud, eating the oreos that I bought for me without asking), as long as people are rational about discussing how to handle the situation next time.
If any of you dopers have ever lived in a co-op, let me know your opinion of the situation and how it fit with your personality.

Not sure if it is the kind of co-op you are talking about, but I used to live in an intentional community on Staten Island, New York.

I would recommend communities in general, and Ganas in particular, to anyone open to new things and unconcerned about the negative images (e.g., lazy, pot-smoking freaks) some people may have of communities.

I’m living in a student co-op right now and I like it quite a bit. For us it is not so very cheap. We are paying off the mortgage on the house (which was bought a couple years ago, before my time).

We are unusual I think, many co-ops are much cheaper. In any case I would say our rent is about on par with the rents in the University area and you probably save money on food here.

I think it is well worth it here. The people here are very cool and every night we cook dinner which most of the housemates attend. So the conversation is usually pretty good. We take care of each other, when one of my housemates sprained her ankle everyone helped her out. Driving her to school for example.

A lot of the places in my area call themselves co-ops but do not own the place where they live. These tend to be cheaper than our co-op, also more informal generally.

Many student co-ops are not like I describe our co-op. The California co-ops and the Michigan co-ops seem more like dorms (from the descriptions of them I’ve heard). This is not to say they are that much like the dorms, but they tend to be pretty large and have their own food distributors and a central office that handles prospective members. In contrast, we are only 14 people and do our own shopping at a grocery store.

Of course, the co-ops I’m describing are formal ones. If you look around you might find less formal and more self-run places. (Though perhaps you’d prefer the more formal ones).

I lived in a Co-op at Michigan. The main reason was, it was really cheap in comparison. The house had been bought at paid for before I was born, So our dues were only for food, heat, property tax and so on. It was a big place, 80 or so people, so it was dorm like, nearly everybody had a roomate. We all did 4-6 hours of chores a week, don’t worry if you can’t cook, you can always scrub toilets(and as a first year you probably will anyway) or mow lawns. There were meetings once a month that were long and boring and mandtory. But all in all it was a good experience and our house was one of the more contentious around. Some people thought it was a study place, and other thought it was a party place, so most of the meetings devolved into attempted laws of spite, but for the most part there ws plenty of room for everybody to do what they wanted.
In the interests of full disclosure I did bail about two weeks before the end of the year, but that was a unique situatuion. As part of the process you bought a number of shares that you were required to sell back when you left. We had a fairly obnioxious member who was kicked out, but the process was handled poorly, and the president made some unfortunate comments. I knew the person being kicked out was the litigous type, so I wanted out in case they decided to sue for discrimination, and I was afraid we were all liable owners because of the share thing. In hindsight there really wasn’t anything they could have sued me for since I was an indebted student, but it seemed like a good idea at the time, so I bailed, sold back my shares, and crashed at a friends.

As far as advice, just go visit and talk to people to make sure it’s compatable with how you want to live. The college brochures descriptions arn’t worth crap.