Now is the time when most students are thinking about housing options for next fall. While many are signing leases or putting down their deposits for a dorm room, there is another alternative that affords opportunities to students — co-ops. Although most students know them for their parties, co-operative living spaces provide great opportunities for students to save money, gain responsibility and enhance social skills.
The most basic advantage of co-op housing is the price. While the cheapest rate for on-campus room and board is $10,223, the most expensive option at the Nueces co-op in West Campus is $7,592.40. The perks of affordable housing are a no-brainer for young adults. The money not spent on the roof over your head is money that doesn’t have to be taken out on a loan or can go towards a savings account. Co-ops are a home for students representing a wide swath of economic backgrounds, and makes living in Austin an option for students whose tuition bills are already close to breaking the bank.
Co-ops can offer such great rates because of the labor requirements, which offer their own merits for students. Residents are expected to complete around four hours of group labor a week, ranging from cooking to maintenance to waste disposal. This foundation is what keeps co-ops running, but it is also extremely important in many students’ growth. While on-campus residence and dining halls take care of most chores, apartments force young adults to take care of all issues themselves.
Co-ops present a healthy medium in learning the basics of life as an adult. Your fellow residents contribute just as much to the upkeep of your living space, but you still have an important responsibility to make sure things stay afloat. Furthermore, there is room to learn new skills to equip students for life after school.
Co-ops such as 21st St. and New Guild are well known for their festivities, but for residents, parties are only a fraction of the social opportunities found in these spaces. Co-ops are founded on the idea of inclusivity.
“There are very few things I wouldn’t be willing to share with any random member regardless of how long I’ve known them,” Anand Pant said in a Facebook message. Pant, a management information systems junior and resident of Taos Co-op, shared that “while not everyone is ideologically identical...they all share a common basis of positive ethical consideration. And of course discrimination of any form can trigger a membership review so there is no tolerance for that.”
Such a culture that supports freedom of expression is crucial for students’ emotional growth. The experimentation with new ideas and exposure to the thoughts of others helps students to develop their own ideas and learn how to deal with others.
Co-ops end up becoming a wonderful home for many students. If you’re still not settled on where to live next academic year, consider joining the co-op community.
Larcher is an economics and Plan II freshman from Austin. Follow her on Twitter @veg_lomein.