Co-op housing as another option...
Aug 14, 2000
Review by taralee469
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:CHEAP, lots of fun people to live with, you get a voice in how decisions are made, most houses are pretty close to campus, free parking at most houses, pets allowed in some houses, men and women allowed to room together if desired
Cons:Don't get to pick your housemates, some people are slobs, not many single rooms
For a change of pace, I thought I'd give my opinion on the student co-ops near campus. Recognize that the co-ops are only loosely affiliated with the University itself, but because they house primarily UM students, this is probably the most appropriate place to post my opinion.
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You may be wondering what a co-op is: Essentially, it's a group of people who get together to "own" the house that you're living in. When you sign up to be a part of a co-op, the Intercooperative Council (ICC) at UM issues you a certificate signifying your "share" in the house. When you leave, you're selling your share in the house, and someone else buys it. In addition, each house elects certain house officers to oversee the aspects of the house (i.e. President, VP, treasurer, food manager, work manager), and they hold monthly house meetings to discuss issues concerning the house.
How much does it cost?: Your monthly rent covers your room _and_ board (all you can eat). Most of the co-ops cost around $375-$500 a month which is often quite a bit cheaper than the dorms. Getting a single costs more than a double.
I heard you have to do _chores_ in the co-op!: Yes, you are expected to do a certain number of hours of work each week. Most houses at UM require about 4 hours a week. Each assigned job is worth so many hours of work--so preparing dinner one night a week might take up 2 hours of your weeks work, and cleaning a bathroom will take up another hour. Recognize that most jobs don't actually take the full amount of time that they're worth (if you take a whole hour to clean a bathroom, then you've got problems). Still, you do have to do your jobs, or people get _really_ mad at you, so if you're not willing to take the responsibility to do the jobs, then you probably shouldn't live in a co-op.
But what's it like to live in a co-op?: I lived in a co-op called Luther House for 2 years, so I can't speak as to how all of the co-ops at UM are like. I can tell you what the Lutherites were like: many of them were vegetarian (so get used to vegetarian dinners), many of them were granola-hippy type people, and they really _loved_ to party (our yearly Halloween parties were pretty famous on campus). Unfortunately, a lot them were slobs--some people never cleaned up after themselves, and others never did their weekly chores. Although, to be honest, if you live in a house with a lot of people, you're always going to run into people like that. The other problem that I ran into is that people would never be quiet during the quiet hours (10pm-8am)--there was this one guy who lived below me who was always playing his guitar at 1 in the morning and it drove me crazy. I guess what I'm saying is that you probably have to be of a certain mentality to live in this type of house, and not be bothered by certain things.
Most of the houses are pretty old roomy buildings. Luther, the house I stayed at, was nearly a hundred years old, and it had these really oddly shaped crazy looking rooms, and narrow staircases. I have to say that my time at Luther was a lot of fun, and an experience that I wouldn't change. (as a side note, one thing I really liked about Luther is that you were allowed to make "improvements" to your room and be reimbursed--my roommate and I ripped up the ugly orange carpet in our room to find a gorgeous wood floor underneath it--we also painted the formerly green, yellow, and orange walls a great looking light blue with light trim, and now it's one of the best rooms in the house...)
A piece of advice: if you're thinking of living in a student co-op, go to the ICC and get a listing of all of the houses. Then visit them all! Some houses are party houses, some have more amenities, some are just for women, etc. Make sure you're picking the right house to live in, or you're gonna be real sad...
If you'd like to check out the ICC's website, and see what some of the houses are like: http://www.icc.umich.org/index.html
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