Common, a "co-living" startup based in New York that acts as a property management company, was recently profiled in a New Yorker article that nicely contextualized it in the history of city dorm-like spaces kind of like extended-stay hostels for young, single people of the same gender. In the case of Common, they write, "the company has set out to restore a certain subset of young, urban professionals to the paradise they lost when they left college, campuses... a furnished place to live, unlimited coffee and toilet paper, a sense of belonging." Now, Common is bringing that life to San Francisco, where it's preceded by plenty of actual communes — though none quite so expensive — and other "contemporary" co-living spots of the "hacker hostel" variety such as Coliving Club. The Common model is also one with which co-working/office space startup WeWork is experimenting, hatching their WeLive apartments.
The Business Times heralded Common's arrival, writing that the company is taking applications for its newest location in SoMa, somewhere on Minna Street. The price: $2,600 per room. The New Yorker pitched Common's advantage as providing nice accommodations — “someone awesome’s parents’ house, without any of the parents” — in neighborhoods where young people might not be able to afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment on their own. But, in the case of the Minna location, that's debatable.
Though comparing that $2,600 per room sum with the area's median one bedroom rent, which is well over $3,000, might make it seem favorable to go with Common, you'll be living with 11 others. So... yeah, that's definitely Apartment Sadness territory.
But hey, you don't have to pay for WiFi, although you are paying, in part, for Common to have its own staff. As the New Yorker wrote,
Common has three locations in Brooklyn: the brownstone in Crown Heights, on Pacific Street—which, when it opened, received more than a thousand applications for eighteen rooms—a second, smaller brownstone in the neighborhood, and a fifty-one-bedroom complex in Williamsburg, which opens this week. Instead of signing a lease, residents sign up for a “membership.” On average, they pay eighteen hundred dollars a month for a furnished bedroom and common areas. The company solves what it calls “the tragedy of the commons”—waiting for the cable guy and hiring housecleaners. There’s a chat room on Slack, where members can plan activities, and a “house leader,” who functions a bit like a college R.A.
The New Yorker article also invoked Campus, a San Francisco-based startup SFist profiled as it was expanding two years ago. "When you joined Campus, you weren’t just joining a house; you were choosing a life style," The New Yorker put it, and, to add a little bit to that, the life style you were choosing was a pretty nice one for someone arriving to San Francisco, probably with a job in hand but less of a social foothold. Campus folded somewhat suddenly, having run out of money, kicking everyone out abruptly last June in a move we noted at the time. So, can Common succeed where Campus failed? Well, it's got $16 million from investors who hope so, and young San Franciscans in SoMa are a coveted market... we'll have to wait and see. But people do know you can get shares all over town with way fewer than 11 people for way less than $2,600/mo, right?Common