“What is a Co-op? Isn’t that like a big house where a bunch of hippies live and share a kitchen and grow their own food? That’s what they were like in Austin.”
So went a conversation I had last night with a friend from Texas; if you’ve ever seen the (great) movie Slacker, you probably understand why he had this impression. Nevertheless, he’s a smart guy and his question reaffirmed a suspicion I’ve had for a few weeks, especially after visiting a few downtown banks (WaMu, Wells Fargo, Bank of America) to ask about financing to buy a co-op unit: many people just don’t know what they are because they aren’t that popular in Seattle.
My friend’s wife, who had lived in NYC, knew what a co-op was. Coincidentally, the big banks, and even Countrywide, only make share loans (the type of loan needed to buy in to a co-op) in New York and New Jersey, where this type of housing is more prevalent.
So, to answer my friend’s question, yes, a bunch of hippies/artists/students/slackers or lawyers/scientists/stock brokers/politicians, or any mix of people with varying professions can inhabit a co-op. The only differences that I can see are the legal technicalities and possibly the attitudes toward “community” of the residents. By the latter, I mean to say there is a social element of cooperative housing. The degree of participation is variable and depends on the development but, as I understand it, is typically more than in your typical condo building or townhouse complex.
The reason I’m drawn to the co-op arrangement is twofold: I think it would be a way to finance the construction (pool our money) and, secondly, I like the idea of a more interactive community. As previously stated, I intend to spend some time with co-op residents (I know of three buildings near my apartment) so that I can make a better comparison between their living arrangements and mine.
Do you have any questions for one of these “hippies”?