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Cooperative living with big perks

BUSINESS PROFILE: Realife Cooperative at Mueller Gardens

Homeowner: ‘The friendships you develop here are amazing’

By Scott Thoma


Realife Cooperative is located in a quiet, residential setting just west of St. Cloud. Photo by Scott Thoma

Residents at Realife Cooperative at Mueller Gardens list several reasons why they enjoy owning their own home at the 50-unit facility west of St. Cloud.


The cooperative is nestled among pine trees and wildlife, such as deer, give residents a country-like peaceful atmosphere. Yet, the cooperative is also close enough to the city that homeowners can shop, attend entertainment venues, or dine in a restaurant without having to travel far.


Several residents noted that they enjoy interacting with one another like a family, often playing cards, attending functions, grilling a meal on the patio, tending to the garden, or just visiting over a cup of coffee.


Realife Cooperative at Mueller Gardens, located west of St. Cloud, has a country setting within a residential area (Photos by Scott Thoma).

“We like that we own our apartment,” said Annette and Gordy Koring, residents for 16 years. “We really enjoy the companionship of others, never being alone, and always having something to do.”


Realife Cooperative at Mueller Gardens is a form of multi-home ownership and not-for-profit organization, solely owned and operated by the residents who live there.



“I have known a lot of the residents for over 19 years,” said Brenda Williams, the Housing Association Manager since the cooperative began in 2006. “They have shared their life stories and wisdom, as well as friendship. They have shown me that you can be active and continue to enjoy life as you age.”


The cooperative is a three-floor complex for individuals 55-and-older. Tenants own their “home within a home.”


Residents of Realife Cooperative at Mueller Gardens enjoy a potluck meal in July. Left to right: Muriel Keil, Helen Schramel, Annette Koring, Mary Jane Brewster, Joan Shields. Contributed photo

“The residents are free to do what they want to make their home comfortable and enjoyable,” said Williams. “If they want to paint or fix up their home, they can. It’s their home.”


The cooperative is always clean inside and out as the residents employ a maintenance supervisor.


“We have good management and maintenance here,” said Mary Jo and LeRoy Herr, homeowners at Realife for two years. “We love having someone to fix things. We also enjoy the closeness of members, and the great neighbors we have. We are close to our family and cardiologist here, too.”


For some, they enjoy owning their own home, but keeping up with maintenance inside and out, gets to be too much. So, they put their names on the waiting list sooner, rather than later.


“Health concerns factored into our decision to move to Realife,” said 17-year residents Gloria and Del Meidinger. “We like the convenience to the hospital, clinics, and stores. We also like the community activities, and the friendly people here.”


These five men, all residents of Realife Cooperative, visit with one another after enjoying a potluck meal in July. Left to right: Jack Haggenmiller, Roy Evans, Ivan Kraemer, Tom Sawyer, and Don Alm (Contributed photo).

When individuals tour the building to see if this might be the place for them, they come away impressed.


“I was on the waiting list for six years, but the timing this year was perfect,” said Patricia Weishaar, who purchased her apartment at Realife Cooperative nine months ago. “I enjoy getting to know people, the location is amazing and wonderfully convenient as I am still working.”


When a unit becomes available for sale, residents currently living at Realife Cooperative are given the first choice of purchasing it as they may wish to live in a bigger or smaller unit than the one that they currently own.


Currently, there are 18 original charter members living at Realife Cooperative. The homeowners have no one to oversee their decisions and set rules. Realife Cooperative is owned collectively by its resident members, who elect a board of directors that provide direction to a management staff.


Deer can often be seen by residents of Realife Cooperative, which is located in a wooded area west of St. Cloud (Contributed photo).

Residents can volunteer to be members of various committees to give them a better understanding and have more control to be able to make decisions that benefit the cooperative. Committees range from Grounds/Landscaping, Finance, Library, Garden, Building, Marketing, Kitchen, Entertainment, and Security.


Features included in each unit includes individual heating/cooling system, 36-inch doorways for easier wheelchair/walker access, lever door handles, large bi-level islands, dishwashers, step-in showers, comfort-height toilets, patios/decks, and phone/internet/television package.


Interested homeowners can choose from the following 10 different floor plans:

1 bedroom, 1 bath, 702 square feet

1 bedroom, 1 bath, 852 square feet

2 bedroom, 1.5 bath, 1,067 square feet

2 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,179 square feet

2 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,202 square feet

2 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,213 square feet

2 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,239 square feet

2 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,362 square feet

2 bedroom, 2 bath, den, 1,391 square feet

2 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,452 square feet


Also included to each homeowner is a storage space, and raised dishwashers and dryers to make it more convenient for someone who may have back problems.


Among the other amenities available at Realife Cooperative is a large woodworking shop with many power tools, a craft room, library/activity room, large garden area, patio area with comfortable seating, seven laundry rooms, a heated and secure vehicle parking garage that includes a carwash bay, wellness room, fully-equipped kitchen with a large dining area, and a guest suite.


Realife Cooperative homeowner Gordon Hurttgam shows off the cup he won for the annual Texas Hold’em tournament (Contributed photo).

“It’s a community of your peers,” said Williams. “The friendships you develop here are amazing, and it’s a beautiful, quiet setting, while also remaining an affordable living option.”


Realife Cooperative at Mueller Gardens is located at 6670 Northwood Lane in St. Cloud. For more information or to schedule a tour, call 320-258-3094 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday thru Thursday, or from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday.


This is a paid business profile. If you would like to learn more about promoting your business in the Sr. Perspective with a business profile, call Jim at 320-334-3344.

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