Communes were once a hallmark of the hippie lifestyle associated with the Bay Area and rest of Northern California and now they are making a comeback and appealing to more than just hippies and techies.
Jessy Schingler walks up the steps to The Embassy, her home, November 16, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif. The Embassy San Francisco is a large victorian house converted into a co-living situation with over a dozen permanent residents and a small number of temporary visitors. The house was created with the intent on building a place for “intention and purpose”. Filled with artists, scientists, people from the local tech scene and many types in-between, their mission statement says that they “value curiosity, analysis, questioning and engagement.” Every Sunday the house hosts a community dinner and most Thursdays they host a different salon series. less
The kitchen in The Canopy in the Eastlake neighborhood in Oakland. By pooling resources, members of coliving communities can afford kitchen appliances and amenities and a larger amount of food as they would otherwise. The Canopy is one of the coliving houses owned by the Oakland-based real estate company Open Door.
- In San Francisco, a 32-year-old tech founder and CEO says that moving into a communal living or “co-living” space is one of the best decisions of his life.
- ZeroCater’s CEO Arram Sabetti shares a house in San Francisco with nine roommates. He told Business Insider that it has cured his loneliness.
- More and more co-living spaces are sprouting in San Francisco, where a critical lack of housing has caused rent prices and the cost-of-living to soar.
- There are services offered to residents so they dont have to do too many chores. Cleaning services, food deliveries, mail etc.
After spending about eight years in the San Francisco Bay Area as an ice cream scooper, office manager, and eventually, founder and CEO of a successful tech startup, Arram Sabeti moved into an apartment in the city’s tech-centic SoMa neighborhood with three friends.
“I moved in there, and I’m like, ‘Wow. This is great, but you know what would be even better? More friends,'” the 32-year-old founder remembers thinking.
Sabeti, whose startup ZeroCater takes care of the logistics of office catering for other companies, launched a community living (or “co-living”) space where 10 roommates cram into a single-family home in the Mission District. Called The Archive, the house has its own constitution, house rules, and membership fees for cleaning services and hosting events.
More and more co-living spaces are sprouting in urban areas like San Francisco, where a critical lack of housing has caused rent prices to soar. Startups have launched with the single goal of meeting demand for co-living. Some tout their affordable prices, while others charge a premium for fully furnished rooms and sweet perks, like maid service and free internet.
The Archive is the eager kid-sister in the co-living space compared to competitors Common and WeLive, the co-living offering from $20 billion office-leasing startup WeWork. Ten roommates make up Archive’s community, while Common gets over 1,000 applications per week for a bed.
Courtesy of WeLive/WeWork
The most obvious appeal of co-living is that renters might save money paying cheaper rent.
But Sabetti said he doesn’t actually save by sharing a eight-bedroom house in San Francisco, where the median two-bedroom rent of $3,060 is more than double the national average of $1,170. Surrounding himself with nine roommates, however, has made him happier and less lonely.
His first apartment in San Francisco was a two-bedroom in North Beach (where the median rent is $4,704) that he shared with another startup founder. They both worked long hours.
“We hardly ever saw each other so it was kind of lonely,” Sabetti said.
At The Archive, he runs into friends in the living room and the kitchen. They share a family-style dinner on Thursdays and open the doors for a potluck with friends on Sundays. It’s not uncommon that the house’s tech workers share what they’re working on and ask for feedback.
“Our whole house is a very, very ambitious group of people. We think of ourselves as both friends and allies over the long term and hopefully, for the rest of our lives,” Sabetti said.
Not everyone is fit for co-living. According to The Archive’s constitution, the single biggest expectation of residents is that they will “put in many hours” into sourcing new roommates.
“One of the key characters that we filter for is conscientiousness, which is basically like being a good human and being on top of your s–t. That ended up working out very well,” Sabetti said.
The only downside? Sabetti said he sometimes has a hard time finding his blender bottle.
Recently, he added, “I was assessing the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Number one was moving to the Bay Area to start a company, and number two was starting this house.”
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