Since I spent the first semester of my senior year abroad, and so when I returned to finish up my degree I was, well, more than a little worried about what to do about housing for the rest of the school year.  I ended up at a student co-operative, or co-op, because a friend of mine was living at one with open spots.  So I contacted the co-op organization while I was still abroad, they sent me a contract, and I was given a move-in date soon after.

The co-op I was in housed 50 people, but others in the organization only housed about 20.  All were run the same way: you bought a share of the house, paid monthly fees for the house and organization fees, did four hours of chores each week, and attended monthly meetings if you could.

I’m so glad that I moved into the co-op; in all four years of being in college it was the best living situation I was in.  Better then living in the dorms or in an apartment with my friends.  I met so many people and had a wonderful semester.  I wish I had joined a co-op earlier, because the benefits were amazing.

Low Cost:  Just like it’s cheaper to buy in bulk from Sam’s Club or Costco, it’s easier to split the cost of housing.  For my apartment the year before I was paying $580 a month that covered rent, utilities, and Internet.  That $580 rent at the co-op covered rent, utilities, Internet, laundry, cable, parking, and food.

Food: Not only were the kitchens always stocked with cooking supplies, but six days out of the week dinner was cooked for me.  No joke.  It was good food too, ranging from honey mustard chicken to hearty chili in the winter.  And if you couldn’t make dinner due to classes or work, there was always a save plate waiting for you in the fridge for when you did get back.

Common Areas: Sure, dorms have lounges, but they’re not exactly nearby and comfortable.  In the co-op, that’s where all the action is. And because these common areas are so much more assessable and comfortable than other similar spots this is where you meet people and can hang out.  Having a hangout spot that’s convenient is the best thing ever.

Community: You get to know everyone in the house pretty quickly, and there is always someone to hang out with.  And if you want to go out, there’s always a couple of people to go out with.  It’s also very easy to hang out with someone in a co-op, all you have to do is knock on a door and ask ‘what are you doing?’.  Compared to having to walk across campus to visit a friend, it’s not to see which on is preferable.  Especially in winter.

You own a part of the house: Which essentially translates to: if you want to pain you walls or draw on them, go head.  You don’t have to get permission to do so! Of course, this means you and your housemates are also responsible for maintenance, but that thought usually translates to taking better care of things anyway.