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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a membershipper?

A membershipper is a term used by people who live in housing cooperatives to refer to someone who is in the process of becoming a member of that housing cooperative.

What is a Housing Cooperative?

There are many different types of housing cooperatives. The one thing every type of cooperative has in common is that they are run cooperatively. Every member/ resident of Nottingham sits on the Nottingham board of directors for Nottingham Inc. (the company that owns our building). There are no other board members. This means that we do not have a landlord - we are our own landlord - and we make all the decisions about our house and the way it's run. We share the responsibility of taking care of the house. In addition, most cooperative houses (including Nottingham) are intentional communities. This is not like an apartment where you don't know your neighbors. Residents get to know eachother and we spent time together. We regularly have board game nights, movie nights, communal meals, bonfires, etc.

Learn More about Local Housing Cooperatives: 


Do I need to be a student to live at Nottingham?

No, in fact most of our residents are not students. Our membership has ranged in age from early 20's to late 60's. Some cooperatives are affiliated with educational institutions, but Nottingham is NOT.

How long is the lease?

Our typical lease is 1 year, but we can discuss shorter terms of stay on a case by case basis. If you think you may stay less than a year, it is your responsibility to let current residents know before you are accepted.

Wow! The roomshare is so affordable! How do you keep it so low?

Part of how we can keep our roomshare costs low is because members take care of the house (though we do hire professional contractors and maintenance people as necessary). Our members clean the common areas including our bathrooms, kitchen, ballroom, etc. Members also take on administrative responsibilities including coordinating workjobs, membershipping, scheduling maintenance, etc. We cut out the "middleman" of a property manager, leasing agent, cleaners, etc. and do that work ourselves. This means we pay with our time and labor to keep the house operational and it's part of why our responsibilities are so important.

I am planning to live here with my partner. How does that work?

We membership applicants as individuals. If your partner will be membershipping, they will need to go through every step of the membership process just like you - they will need to fill out the membershipper questionnaire, come to 4 dinners, and have a separate membership interview on a different day than your membership interview. Because we membership applicants as individuals, they will be accepted or rejected on their own merits. As always, we can never guarantee whether or not a membershipper will be accepted or rejected.


It is ideal if applicants can communicate with the membership coordinator from separate emails. If that is not possible or difficult and only one person from a couple is in contact with a membership coordinator, that person is responsible for forwarding their partner all information and communicating about what days their partner will be at dinner. Membership coordinators communicate with cooks and residents about what days and times membershippers will be coming to dinner. That means the coordinator needs to know who is coming - please always specify if the person coming to dinner is just you, just your partner, or both of you.

Other things to know:

  • Rooms that have more than one occupant will be charged a $75 additional person's fee per person.

  • Individuals will be charged separately for foodshare and utilities.

  • Every resident has their own independent responsibilities regardless of whether or not they are sharing a room. This includes separate security deposits.

  • The $75 additional person's fee for additional room occupants covers the additional person's use of house resources, supplies, and added wear on the house. This does NOT include having your partner/ a friend stay in your room temporarily/ occasionally.

Do I really have to attend all four meals? Even if I live far away?

We may choose accommodate people on a case-by-case basis based on a number of factors. Members are understandably uncomfortable with the idea of living with someone they've never personally met before. We take our membership process very seriously because we are deciding on a person who will live with us for an extended period of time (possibly years), become part of our community, and have a say in our home, so it's important we feel good about our membership decisions.


In the past, we have allowed people who live far away to do their first two meals virtually and then do two in-person meals (in some cases, we can schedule the two in-person meals on the same day and the membership interview could be scheduled for that day as well). The choice to provide this option to a membershipper is made on a case-by-case basis. Please ask about it if this could apply to you.

Can I stay in a spare room at Nottingham while I membership here?

No. Several residents at Nottingham, particularly those who have been here longer have had negative experiences allowing membershippers to stay at the house while they are membershipping. Other cooperatives have also had bad experiences with this. Consequently, we do not allow membershippers to reside at Nottingham before they are accepted and pay their deposit.

Here are a few lodging options:


  • ~ $45 Motel 6 Madison, WI - East (17 mins by car / 42 mins by bus)

  • ~ $56 Rodeway Inn & Suites WI Madison-Northeast (16 min by car)

  • ~ $64 Quality Inn Madison West Near University Area (19 mins by car)

  • ~ $72 AmericInn by Wyndham Madison West (18 mins by car)

  • ~$109 Graduate Madison (6 min walk)

  • ~$126 Best Western Plus Inntowner Madison (9 mins by car / 21 mins by bus)

  • ~$189 The Edewater (5 min walk)

  • View more lodging options.

*Prices listed on this page are unlikely to be 100% accurate. They are meant to be a way to compare these locations relatively. Prices will be especially high if there is a big event in the city. By providing this list, we are not necessarily recommending any of these locations, nor are we recommending one location over another. 

How long will the membership process take?

This depends on WHEN you membership. If we don't have any other membershippers and we have enough dinners, it could take a week or less. If we have a lot of membershippers, it could take about a month given a number of variables. Our busy season for membershipping new people starts in early July and extends into August. On average, it takes about two weeks, but we can never guarantee a specific timeline. In addition, there are times when we have to suspend membershipping or prioritize other internal meetings, but that is not common.

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We currently have 3 cats, so it's less likely that we will be accepting any more animals into the house unless the new pets mostly stay in their human's room. You are welcome to try to membership a pet, but we want you to have realistic expectations.

Are the bathrooms gender neutral?

Yes​! All of our bathrooms are gender neutral.

How many bathrooms do you have? Are there ever lines to shower?

We have three bathrooms with a total of 5 stalls, 2 showers, and 1 tub. People have a variety of schedules here, so there's almost always a stall or shower available when you need it. Inevitably, the cosmos will align and you may have to wait a few minutes, but that's rare. The coop provides some shower products like shampoo and conditioner. You must keep your private shower items in your personal space when not in use. Most members have a tote for their shower items.

Are there ever lines to do laundry?

Most people do their laundry on the weekend, so there is sometimes a wait to do laundry on Saturday and/or Sunday. It's rare to have more than one person waiting to do their laundry at a time, but it happens. If you do your laundry on a week night, you probably won't have to wait at all. The coop provides laundry detergent and dryer sheets.

What kind of house and community events do you have at Nottingham?

We regularly have board game nights (and sometimes we play Jackbox), movie nights, and craft nights. In addition, we recently had a clothing swap, group singing event, and talent show just for our house members. We have also gone on group walks around state street, small trips, and there have been several DnD campaigns hosted at Nottingham. We usually have holiday events planned as well. We are happy to have friends and partners of our residents attend any events and we host live music events about once a month. All of our events are optional but we encourage participation and we are very open to new ideas for house and community events.

Can I schedule all of my meal times at once?

Short answer: During our off-season, we allow membershippers to tentatively schedule all their dinners in advance. During our busy season (July - August), we may choose to only reserve one or two dates at a time unless there are very special circumstances (ex: the person lives more than two hours away and needs two meals on the same day, the person has pets and needs to plan in advance when to bring them, etc.). Ask your membership coordinator for more information. 

Why is the Foodhsare $60 to $100 a month? What will I actually be paying?

We have a range for our foodshare cost because we want to keep our foodshare bank balance in a healthy place. We pay $100 a month if our foodshare bank balance is below $1,000 so we can get the balance up again. We pay $80 when the foodshare bank balance is above $1,000 and we pay $60, when the bank balance is above $2,000. Having a healthy amount of money in our foodshare account allows our food buyers to make bulk purchases, which saves them time and saves us money in the long run. It is in your best interest to budget for $100 a month. You can expect to find many food and meal supplies available for you in our kitchen daily. If you need help budgeting, ask your membership coordinator for help. 

How much will it cost to move in to Nottingham?

We require a $500 security deposit before you can pick your room. In addition, we require the first month's rent (pro-rated from your expected date of move in) before you move-in.

If I'm looking at the calendar and there's a meal in an hour. Can I come over unannounced?

Do NOT ever stop by unannounced for a meal even if one is scheduled. Members find it jarring for strangers to show up without notice. In addition, if we don't plan for your visit, there won't be anyone to greet you at the door and the cook may cancel last minute without your knowledge. Please have a confirmed date set-up before arrival. Giving at least 24 hours notice is recommended. You will likely be turned away if you do not have a confirmed meeting.

Why was my membership blocked?

The blocking member is not required to give you a reason, so this question often does not have an answer we can share. Often, perceived personal compatibility is relevant in cases concerning the reason a person's membership might be blocked. That isn't a case of having done something wrong; it's just a case of a member making the best decision for everyone relative to what might prove to be a bad situation for themselves and the blocked party alike.

No one member at Nottingham can ever guarantee your membership will work out. Membership can even be blocked once you've made it to your membership interview. Because of this, it's important that you have other housing options if your deadline to move is tight. Please let your membership coordinator know if you need new housing ASAP.

I have a furry friend! Do you allow pets at Nottingham?

>>> Please let the membership coordinator know immediately if you have a pet. <<<

Yes. We do allow a variety of pets, but pets are not automatically accepted. Each pet must go through the membership process just like their human. Cats must attend 2 meals and dogs must attend 3 meals with their human. After that, the pet has their own membership meeting, which we call a pet-ship meeting. Your pet's "membership" is not related to your membership, so even if you are accepted, that doesn't mean your pet will be accepted too. In addition, we do not allow pets above the second floor. Pets can be in our dinning room, first floor, and second floor, but NOT on the third floor or in the attic. 

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