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Co-Op housing in downtown Madison, Wi.

Rochdale is an indepedent 13-bedroom housing co-operative located in a beautiful old house in downtown Madison, WI. We collaborate in maintaining the house by making decisions together and contributing to cooking, cleaning, and administrative tasks.  

Please email to inquire about vacancies..

Family oriented dinners

Life At Rochdale

Reasons for becoming a member of  Rochdale are numerous. Perhaps the major advantages are the intangible ones. Becoming a member means becoming part of the "extended family" of Rochdale. The Co-op attracts people of all ages, origins, callings, and walks of life who come together to share peacefully and cooperatively. There are members who stay here for as little as 6 months and there are members who stayed for as long as 30 years! The community that is built at Rochdale often becomes an integral part of members' lives, drawing them back again and again.

Roommate gatherings


The kitchen of Rochdale has witnessed the travails and sweet smell of dishes like ugali, pho, idlis, tandoori chicken, ratatouille, feijoada, strogonoff and countless others. Members take part in a food cycle, where once about every two weeks, a member cooks dinner for other members of the house. The "cook" is responsible for buying groceries and cooking for that particular day. It is difficult for the co-op to buy groceries in bulk due to the diverse eating habits of the members and the current setup has worked quite well for us.

Home made dinners


Housing co-ops, it seems, have a reputation -- deserved or not -- of being a wee bit untidy. At Rochdale, we are rather proud of the fact that this is not the case. Members are expected to keep the house clean and functional. Each member of Rochdale is assigned a house job every weekend. This could be anything from cleaning the kitchen to balancing the account books. Members are expected to complete their house jobs by Sunday night. Each house job takes approximately two hours to complete.

Community dinners


A president, labor/maintenance officer and treasurer are elected each semester.  These individuals perform certain administrative responsibilities instead of the weekly house jobs. Members of Rochdale are eligible for officer positions after staying for at least one semester. Members are encouraged to participate in the administration of Rochdale by serving as an officer. In addition, members have access to the financial records of the co-op and officer reports..

Roommate outings


At Rochdale we love a good discussion. We even have compulsory meetings every two weeks for that purpose! Various issues such as membership, finances, maintenance, donations, excursions, interpersonal conflict etc. are discussed at these meetings. Decisions are taken on a democratic basis with each member entitled to one vote.  All members are expected to attend these meetings, and they usually run 1-1.5 hours long. Missed meetings can results in extra house jobs.



If there is something to be found in abundance in Rochdale, it is a whole lot of fun! Dinners are the time when most of the members gather around the table and exchange stories about their day. Sometimes, we veer off towards a spirited argument and sometimes we compare different types of vanilla or argue if daylight savings time should be abolished. Whatever your interest, you can have a fun argument over it! 

We try to have at least two official house parties over the course of the year. The co-op provides the beverages and food and we invite as many people as we can. We have had couples coming to Rochdale wishing to take pictures, for it was at one of these parties that they had first met! Members are welcome to have private parties, as long as they inform other members and maintain appropriate noise levels. 


Members often plan camping and hiking trips and sometime even biking trips to nearby state parks.

If you like movies, we have a new flat-screen smart TV where you can watch your favorite actors in HD glory! If music is what you seek, you will have one cool collection by the time you leave Rochdale.

Given the diversity of cultural backgrounds Rochies come from, we enjoy celebrating a wide variety of festivals ranging from Diwali and Lunar New Year to Mardi Gras and March Madness!

It is quite difficult to have an uneventful day at Rochdale!!

Community events

Applying to Rochdale

The application process usually takes 2 - 4 weeks, and is summarized as follows:

1) Applicant visits the co-op for a tour of the house and picks up an application OR emails the house.
2) A dinner (or two) is scheduled for the applicant upon receipt of the application.
3) The co-op votes on the applicant during the next house meeting.
4) Applicant is informed of the co-op's decision.

5) If accepted, the applicant accepts or rejects membership to the co-op.

Application tips

  • Apply early. Please consider applying a semester in advance. The early bird gets the worm and the early applicant gets the room!

  • If possible, avoid applying during the summer ( July & August) and during winter break (December). Many members leave for their vacations and it is difficult to co-ordinate the application process.

  • Take time to peruse the website and complete the application form. Please contact us if you have any questions.

  • Do not try to open the application with Google Docs, please download the file and fill it out.



  • Rent at Rochdale is affordable and varies by room size.

  • Each member gets a private room and bathrooms are shared. Rooms may be rented for double occupancy for an extra charge.

  • No parking spots are currently open. If one becomes available, it would cost ~$25/month.

  • Pets are not allowed.

Rent includes:

  1. Utilities

  2. Laundry

  3. Hi-speed Internet

  4. Cable​

  5. Shared cleaning supplies

What is a co-op?

A co-op is a business owned by its customers or its workers. Co-ops started in the 1840's in England as a way for people to save money. People pooled their money and bought food in quantity which got them a volume discount. And the fact that they didn't need to make a profit also helped to keep costs low. Besides saving money, co-ops are attractive to people who like the idea of a business being owned and managed by its members.

During the Depression college students started housing co-ops to live in while going to school. These were large houses of twenty or so rooms. The students saved money by sharing the cooking and cleaning rather than paying maids and cooks. They also enjoyed the built-in community, and the idea of all working together.

Co-ops are characterized by the Rochdale Principles, named after the first successful co-op which was started in Rochdale, England in the 1840's. This is a paraphrased version:

  • Open Membership. A co-op does not discriminate. Anyone can join.

  • Democratic Control. The co-op is owned and operated by its members. Each member gets one vote (unlike publicly-traded companies in which those who buy the most shares get the most votes).

  • Limited Return on Capital. A co-op is not intended to be a money-making enterprise for its members. Members may thus be paid only a "limited" amount of interest on any money they invest. (Most co-ops have a very modest investment requirement. My local credit union requires only a $5 lifetime investment.)

  • Surplus Belongs to Members. Since the members are the owners, they receive any profit the co-op makes. In many co-ops the profits are reinvested into the business rather than being returned to the members.

  • Honest Business Practices. Cooperatives deal openly, honestly, and honorably with their members and the general public.

  • Ultimate aim is to advance the Common Good. The ultimate aim of all cooperatives should be to aid in the participatory definition and the advancement of the common good.

  • Education. Co-ops are expected to educate their members, officers, and employees and of the general public in the principles and techniques of cooperation, both economic and democratic.

  • Cooperation among Cooperatives. Co-ops should actively cooperate in every practical way with other cooperatives.

Original source:

Get in Touch

138 W Gorham St
Madison, Dane County 53703


IG: rochdale_coop

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