Is a Co-operative Retirement Community Right for You?


When Virginia King’s husband passed away in 2018, she suddenly faced downsizing her home and, like many seniors, decided to move to a retirement community. “I wanted a place without maintenance,” she says. “The added bonus of the great people who will be my neighbors is all I want in my future lifestyle. “

King is one of a growing number of Washington state seniors who are sold into age-restricted co-op communities. Co-op senior housing for working adults, aged 62 and over, has been around since the early 1970s, but mostly in the Midwest. It has only arrived in Washington State in recent years.

“Many of our owner-members tell us that they felt isolated in their old home and find the social opportunities here to be a wonderful benefit,” says Kate Grant, Director of Sales for Puyallup village cooperative. “They want the value of the housing and the amenities we provide, without the hassle of traditional homeownership. “

Village Cooperative in Puyallup has 57 spacious units and is currently under construction. It is 75% sold, which matches demand, and another community of village cooperatives is being planned for Olympia.

Cooperative or condo?

If downsizing and reducing home maintenance is part of your aging action plan, investing in a home in age-limited independent living development fits perfectly with this strategy. But how do you choose the right community?

“A lot of people know what condos are, but they don’t know co-ops as well,” Grant says. “They tend to think they are the same, and they are definitely not.” Condos and co-ops are multi-unit structures that include ownership of commonly used property, but this is where the similarities end. When you buy a condo, you own the unit. A cooperative owner is a shareholder of the entire building. A share of equity allows the owner to own a house.

Here are some amenities to ask for when checking out a senior citizen community.

  • Community space with full kitchen
  • Reading spaces
  • Training room
  • Workshop
  • Laundry room in each house
  • Guest room
  • Heated indoor parking
  • Raised outdoor gardens
  • Maintenance of common areas and household appliances
  • Special interest groups and other social activities

How Cooperative Retirement Communities Work

Think of your housing community – buildings and land – as a corporation. Each resident buys shares of this company and becomes a shareholder. Becoming a resident / shareholder requires two main costs: the purchase of shares – which is a one-time payment based on the size and location of the home – and the monthly fee for operating expenses. The value of this share of capital increases in a predictable way, appreciating at a defined percentage (3% for the village cooperative) for each year that the members live in the community. This keeps units affordable for new residents and reduces time to sell.

There is also an executive council, elected by and made up of residents, which ensures that the bylaws are followed, as well as the rules that vary from community to community.

“All residents have a vote, regardless of the size of their home,” says Grant. “And all residents are owners, unlike some condos. This means that there is probably more pride in their community. “

Does the co-op for the elderly live for you?

An Ohio State University study of co-op housing for the elderly found that the majority of residents felt a positive effect on their lives in the following areas:

  • Ease of home maintenance (93%)
  • Ability to live independently (84%)
  • Personal safety (82%)
  • Life satisfaction (80%)
  • Access to activities and entertainment (77%)
  • Happiness (77%)
  • Number of contacts with friends (77%)
  • Private life (67%)
  • Physical health (63%)

“What particularly attracted me was the maintenance-free life,” explains the new owner of the village cooperative in Puyallup, Barb B. “What came to me later was the sense of community. . “

Puyallup village cooperative is a community for active adults aged 62 and over who want to access homeownership without maintenance in a secure setting. The co-op offers a worry-free lifestyle with financial advantages that traditional condos or apartments for seniors cannot.

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