So I’m looking for a new place to stay.
My lease ends end August and I’m ready to find somewhere else. This apartment has been good but the personalities of the people in the house don’t gel too well and it’s probably for the best that I move. And I want to avoid the utilities shocker of last winter so August/September is a good time to go.
So today I went to interview for a room in a co-op and the whole process was fascinating. I have never lived in a co-op before, since I have always been a renter – you pay your rent and you expect the landlord to fix everything. But I learnt today, a co-op situation is very different.
I know, I know. Many people think “communes”, “dirty smelly hippies” and “communism” when they hear co-op and their idea of a co-op is probably this:
But I found out tonight co-ops have a different face.
The biggest difference to me is really the concept of ownership. Rather than just being a renter, you’re very invested in the place you live in. You take ownership of your property as if you own the place – there’s no landlord to answer to and to rely on when things go wrong. That means you pay the mortgage, maintain the property and make sure the property is in a good condition to hand over to the next person.
Secondly, a co-op is usually established with greater social/political aims in mind. The co-op I interviewed for was created to allow disadvantaged people a choice to live in the Boston area. Okie, so everybody in the co-op is not exactly disadvantaged but it had a really noble ideal when it was founded and it’s inspiring to be part of a vision.
Thirdly, there seems to be a closer bond in a co-op living environment. Members are expected to invest time and effort in the living spaces – there are housekeeping duties, financial meetings and weekly house dinners with people in the house. That’s the kind of relationship I’m looking for, maybe a little too close to communism for many people but I like to be close to people.
A good description of co-op living can be found here.
So another year of anonymous, “hi/bye” room mate situation? Or an intense “we are the people” living environment with significant demands on time and energy?
I don’t know yet but after all that superficial “so how are you doing” meaningless banter in the work place, intimacy doesn’t sound so bad.