From Co-Working to Co-Living: An NYC Experiment

Co-working is something that has always sounded cooler in my head than it actually is when you’re doing it in person. As somebody who is self-employed, co-working kind of looks like a new, shiny (very tempting) toy. A far-away land where I will get out of my pajamas, dress like an adult, and be able to think about human interaction without shuddering. Don’t get me wrong, there are good intentions behind (and definitely some good things) about co-working. For example, instead of being distracted by the latest Serial podcast, you are distracted by Susie, who can’t pinpoint a description of what it is she does but can, instead, give you the Moby-Dick-length version of what she did last weekend. There is often coffee. There is human interaction, which, despite its scariness, is crucial for not feeling like a total hermit. Albeit, co-working spaces have always been a touch on the expensive side – I mean, there is only so much I will pay to spend time at a place that mimics the kind of environment I am working my butt off to escape.

Despite my experiences, they are a good option for some – giving lone wolfers a place to belong, helping create clearer distinctions between “work” and “home,” and making space for mini-communities that defy “the man.” Rock on, co-working. One company, however, is taking the co-working concept to a whole new level, offering a co-living space. Pause for effect.Welive1WeWork is a co-working startup in New York City, and according to Fast Company, they have just begun to test their first residential offering (the spin off is called WeLive). Fast Company reports that the new company is offering a lot more than just space to live ­– they are building a community. And with that community comes fitness classes, potluck dinners, laundry services, cleaning services, and a tailored social network, all of which can be accessed and managed though a mobile app.

So far, 80 “WeWork” members have jumped ship to living in the apartment spaces that WeLive is now offering. Eventually, the company’s plans are to expand to house about 600 people, spanning about 20 floors. Many of the apartments feature a studio-like layout, and vary from one-bedroom to two-bedroom plans. All include a private kitchen and bath. Speaking on what is unique to the apartments’ offerings, Fast Company reports:

“Less typical for an apartment building: All units are fully furnished, decorated, and set up with cable and Internet at move-in. A monthly cleaning is included with rent (members will receive monthly bills for cable, utilities, Internet, and more frequent cleaning). Every floor has a common area such as a yoga studio or a movie theater. And the building has a community manager who will help plan Sunday-night suppers, game nights, karaoke, and fitness classes.”

Co-living is much to my dismay, not an up-and-coming concept, but one that has already been proven – at least on some levels. Other companies, such as the kibbutz, the commune, and the close-knit neighborhood have also rolled out similar concepts.

Although WeWork is still testing the waters, they are clearly excited about this new aspect of their community-oriented business. According to a leaked investor pitch deck from the company, they expect that the co-living part will account for 21 percent of their revenue, $605.9 million, by 2018. A statement directly from the company, expanding on their plans, read:

“We are in the early stages of beta testing a new, community-driven living concept in New York City. This concept is another layer of our platform focused on enabling people to live more fulfilling lives. During this testing phase, we’ll be listening to feedback from our community and we’ll have more to share in the future.”

Welive2Welive3One thing that these co-living spaces accomplish is giving promising youngsters a space that they can (within reason) afford to live expensive cities. Bringing youth, innovation, and energy into places that otherwise might be off-limits to the less established is definitely a good thing.

Overall, co-living is an interesting concept, but probably not for everybody. Some people actually do just want to place to live – not an automatic community and a calendar filled to the brim with events. However, for those who do want a “fulfilling” living experience, something beyond the norm, or just a place that comes complete with friends to fill your “living room” (or in this case living room/dining room/kitchen/bedroom), WeWork/WeLive is certainly an enticing option…and a promising idea. My last burning question: When’s the first potluck dinner?

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