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The Pros and Cons of Living in a Housing Cooperative in Illinois

Where you choose to live is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your lifetime. After all, it’s where you spend the majority of your time and it’s the place you retreat to at the end of each day. While many choose to buy a house or rent an apartment, there is another option that not a lot of people know about called a housing cooperative.

ash street housing cooperative grounds

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why owners have fallen in love with this housing choice as well as what the drawbacks are.

The Pros:

Low upfront unit purchase cost

The great thing about housing co-ops is how affordable they are compared to conventional homeownership, specifically your initial upfront cost. So what exactly are you paying for upfront? Basically, you are paying your membership fee (which entitles you to live in one unit of the housing cooperative) and also gives you one share in the company that owns and manages the cooperative. The cost to upkeep the housing co-op is split among its members as well which brings us to our next point.

Low monthly fees (which also includes property taxes.)

Once you pay your initial membership cost, then you pay monthly dues that are usually very low compared to what you would typically pay on, say, a monthly mortgage payment. The great news is your property taxes are also included in this low monthly fee. Imagine a life where you own your home but have no mortgage or property taxes hanging over your head, only a low monthly fee that you can count on being consistent.

Vote on community decisions

Your initial membership fee you pay upfront entitles you to the individual unit you own within the cooperative as well as one share in the company that owns the co-op. This ownership allows you to attend and speak at board meetings regarding your home and vote on decisions that are made about your community.

group of board members at meeting

Ability to become a board member

All housing cooperatives are owned by companies that are run by elected board members. Once you have become a member of the cooperative, you can decide if you would like to one day be nominated to become a board member. If you meet all the criteria stated in your community’s bylaws and are elected by your peers, you will serve on the board of members and have even more say on how things are run in your community.

Friendly neighbors

The dynamics between neighbors in your housing cooperative are different than dynamics between neighbors you may have in an apartment complex. All of your neighbors are equally invested in their homes and strive to peacefully coexist within their community. Housing co-ops are great ways to make new friends plus you know that someone is looking out for your unit when you are on vacation.

friendly neighbor at ash street cooperative

Spacious home

Perhaps the biggest advantage of living in a housing cooperative other than the low cost is how much square footage you can afford. Due to all members in the community splitting the cost of the overall mortgage, your dollar goes much further than it would on its own.

The Cons:

Shared walls with neighbors

Much like living in a condo or apartment building, you will have at least some shared walls with neighbors. Shared walls usually mean an increase in noise levels at often unpleasant times. But whether you live in a housing cooperative, apartment, or in a private home in a neighborhood, there is always some degree of noise no matter where you live.

Inability to modify exterior of home

While you have control over the aesthetics of the interior of your home, you may be limited on what you can do to the outside of your unit. The flipside to this is that you also aren't responsible for repairs or maintenance to the exterior of the home. While you may feel limited in your ability to modify the curb appeal with color choices, siding material or roof color, knowing that you don't have to repair them should help compensate.

May have pet restrictions

Like many apartment buildings, your housing cooperative may have some pet restrictions. While some allow no pets at all, others allow a limited amount of pets and may have size or breed restrictions as well. On the flipside, this does help to prevent aggressive breed dogs from living in your neighborhood. Check to see what the restrictions are, if any, before purchasing.

Don’t own the land your unit is on

Another thing to consider when purchasing a unit within a housing cooperative is that while you own your particular unit, you don’t actually own the land your unit is sitting on. This is a drawback for some while others actually enjoy not having the added responsibility.

ash street housing cooperative grounds photo

All in all, a housing cooperative is an excellent form of homeownership. Ash Street Cooperative offers spacious 2 and 3 bedroom units with large windows, plenty of storage and low upfront unit costs. Call us for more information about how to get started on purchasing the co-op of your dreams today!

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