How looming globalism is affecting young professionals in New York
Millennials in New York are forking out an eye-watering $1,800 per month for tiny 98-square-foot rooms, keeping them in the state of perpetual ‘brokeness’ and servitude.
30-year-old marketing manager Scott Levine lives in one such room “basically, a kitchen” with other roommates.
A “community-engagement team” at Ollie helps plan Mr. Levine’s social calendar, and a live-in “community manager” get to know him and other living on the 14 Ollie-managed floors within Alta LIC building.
“Life, in general, can be a bit of a headache,” says Mr. Levine. Thanks to Ollie, he adds, “Everything is done for you, which is convenient.”
According to ZH: Ollie’s business model is all about comfort and roommates – usually, single people in their 20s and 30s who have all amenities catered for them, while sharing a kitchen and general area.
For city-dwellers accustomed to living cheek-by-jowl with people whose names they’ll never bother to learn, this might seem strange.
But for young people still forming their postcollege friend organizations—in an era when cooperation in civic life is down and going to a bar can mean gathering in a corner swiping on Tinder—it makes sense.
So much sense that people put up with apartments so small they’re called “micro.” But hey, free shampoo. -WSJ
Meanwhile, startups such as Ollie and Common are competing with big-city real-estate developers.
Common manages 20 co-living properties in six cities where roommate situations are more common, such as New York, Los Angeles and Washington DC. They have approximately 650 renters according to CEO Brad Hargreaves.
“Our audience is people who make $40,000 to $80,000 a year, who we believe are underserved in most markets today,” Mr. Hargreaves says.
Other startups are managing existing homes and apartments, “Airbnb-style” as the WSJ puts it.
Bungalow, which just announced $64 million in funding, wants property owners to offer space to “early-career professionals” looking for a low-maintenance place to stay.
It charges rent that’s “slightly higher” than what it pays those owners, a company spokeswoman says.
It currently maintains over 200 properties—housing nearly 800 residents—across seven big cities, says co-founder and CEO Andrew Collins.
As with Common and Ollie, Bungalow advertises that it furnishes the common areas in its homes, installs fast free Wi-Fi, and cleans them regularly.
The company also organizes events and outings to help you “build a community with… your new friends.” -WSJ
One of the underlying features of the co-living startup models is a technology program that both advertises to proposed tenants and takes care of their needs once they’re living on-site.
Ollie’s “Bedvetter” system, for example, shows apartments to potential residents – and shows who’s already signed up to live there with links to their individual profiles in order to match roommates.
Bedvetter also matches people into “pods” of “potential roommates” before they begin a home hunt.
“It’s like online dating,” says Levine – while his roommate, Joseph Watson, 29, compares it to eHarmony or Match.com vs. Tinder, as it’s designed for long-term pairings.
While millennials in New York and other urban areas struggle to make ends meet, developers are making hand over fist on the co-living movement – even though the tenants themselves are paying less than they would for a private studio.
The Alta LIC building also has conventional apartments, but the co-living units are filling up faster, says Matthew Baron, one of the Alta LIC building’s developers.
What’s more, he adds, he can get more than $80 a square foot for Ollie units compared with around $60 a square foot for the others, even though the Ollie ones are on the lower, less-desirable floors. -WSJ
Another difficulty with co-living arrangements is tricky community management.
L.A.’s PodShare, for example, vets potential tenants beforehand – however issues with problem tenants are unavoidable.
“We’ve hosted 25,000 people at this point, so there’s bound to be some problems,” says founder Elvina Beck.
Common structure tenant Teiko Yakobson said that the “community vibe broke down after Common eliminated the paid “house leader,” complaining that “We all just became strangers, and it was no better than living in any other apartment.”
Common instead replaced the program with “centralized” community managers at the corporate level – which Hargreaves says is “more coherent” for them.
It’s not all bad, however…
When it does work, co-living can re-create the kind of communities residents try online—ones grounded in shared interests and shared socioeconomic status.
Mr. Levine, who not only lives in a co-living building but also works in a co-working space—and in whose social circle most people do either one of those or the other—is aware that, while this isn’t for everyone, he is hardly a standout. “One thing I’ve heard before is that I’m a stereotype of a New York millennial,” he says.
Just make sure you have earplugs in case your roommate is able to get laid in their respectively expensive, tiny room.