New ‘co-living’ housing option spreads its wings in New York

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Mon, 2019-08-12 00:33

NEW YORK: Nandita Iyer landed in New York from Bombay without
knowing anyone, but she did not want to live alone in a “sketchy
studio.” So instead she opted for a room in a “co-living”
unit.
She lives with roommates in one of the 14 apartments in a small
building run by the housing startup Quarters in the trendy Lower
East Side neighborhood.
The best part of the arrangement, she said, are the common areas: A
large kitchen with a big table and comfy couches, a terrace where
she can work and a luxurious rooftop patio.
“I met people from such different backgrounds. And I became very
good friends with them,” she said.
And she even found mentors to help with her job search.
Group living arrangements are not new: Many people have lived with
roommates, in student dormitories or retirement homes.
But with housing costs skyrocketing in major cities and amid
changing lifestyles, start-up companies are offering to take care
of everything for renters, including the social life of their
residents.
Demand for these new group housing arrangements is on the rise,
especially among young people aged 18 to 35 — the millennials —
so more and more projects are appearing on the rental
landscape.
Real estate brokers Cushman & Wakefield estimated in May that
the major US co-living startups had about 3,200 rooms available
with 16,700 in the pipeline. The new players include Quarters,
Common, Ollie, Starcity, X Social Communities, The Collective and
WeLive.
Quarters manages three residences in New York and Chicago and is
preparing to grow quickly. Its German-based parent company, Medici
Living, just raised $300 million to expand in the US market, in
addition to €1 billion to develop in Europe.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Amenities are more sophisticated than at Quarters: Residents
have access to a gym, golf simulator and top floor with open views
of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

• Like many coliving providers, Ollie’s boasts that it
organizes social events several times a week, like museum visits or
cooking classes.

• It also allows residents to communicate with each other on a
dedicated application.

“We provide an easy solution for people looking to move into
big cities,” said Gil Hirak, head of US operations for
Quarters.
From the virtual tour to the signing of the lease, everything can
be done online. Then “you just move in with a suitcase,” since
units are furnished.
The companies also reduce many traditional sources of friction
between roommates by taking care of all the practical details:
Basic products such as toilet paper, cleaning, internet or
electricity bills.
“During the week, we’re so busy. Housekeeping is really
helpful,” said resident Eric Tauro, a 29-year-old architect.
After finishing his studies he was “researching what would be the
easiest way” to move to New York.
He set his sights on Ollie’s third project in a large new
building in fast-growing Long Island City. The startup occupies a
third of floors in the complex, with 422 beds available in 169
apartments.
Amenities are more sophisticated than at Quarters: Residents have
access to a gym, golf simulator and top floor with open views of
Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
Like many coliving providers in the city, Ollie’s boasts that it
organizes social events several times a week, like museum visits or
cooking classes.
It also allows residents to communicate with each other on a
dedicated application.

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New ‘co-living’ housing option spreads its wings in New York