New York is so expensive that millennials and Gen Zers are paying more than $900 a month to share small bedrooms, but residents say they get more out of co-living than just a place to sleep
Joey HaddenFeb 15, 2020, 00:03 IST
Joey Hadden/Business Insider
Residents at Outpost say co-living is a great way to transition into NYC life.
The median monthly rent price for a one-bedroom apartment in New York in 2020 is $3,000, according to Zumper.
This can be out of reach for the average millennial and Gen Zer. Based on the average millennial's yearly income, millennials should only be spending around $998 a month on rent.
Millennials and Gen Zers are still making their way to metropolises like NYC and San Francisco, and some of them are doing it thanks to a modern twist on an old trend, co-living spaces, where strangers share a home.
Outpost Club is a co-living company with houses in New York, Jersey City, New Jersey, and San Francisco. Its residents, which Outpost calls "members," share living spaces and, in some cases, even bedrooms. It's one of the cheapest co-living options in New York.
Around 50% of members are international, and members say the living arrangement helps them transition not only financially, but also mentally and socially, for life in NYC, but that it takes an extroverted person to get the most out of the co-living experience.
When 30-year-old Sean Finn was moving from Prague to New York, he said he was prepared for his new accommodation to be a scam.
"I thought it couldn't possibly be this easy," he told Insider, "and then it was."
Finn lives in an Outpost co-living space in upper Manhattan. Co-living spaces are essentially homes where strangers live together.
Outpost Club was started by three Ukrainians that struggled to move to NYC themselves because of issues like credit checks, scams, and agent commissions, so they made a business to accommodate people in similar situations.
Modern co-living is just the latest version of a trend that's more than 200 years old — cohabitation, or people living together.
At Outpost, there's an average of 16 people living in each house. While some of them are apartments, others are multi-story houses.
The spaces are decorated like homes, but they feel like dorms.
Filled-in chalkboards and dry-erase boards on the walls that seemed to assign responsibilities and advertise community events reminded me of life in college.
People live in shared spaces and, in some cases, even shared bedrooms.
Residents say they were surprised to find large living spaces in their homes. "All my friends overseas said I'd be living in a shoebox," Finn told Insider.
There can be up to two beds in a bedroom, which typically range between 70 to 170 square feet in size.
Kira Hooks, 26, moved into a shared bedroom in Outpost's Bed-Stuy house in August 2019.
She told Insider that Outpost supplying amenities made the transition much easier.
Hooks said that co-living helped her transition from Nashville to New York mentally and socially.
"New York initially can feel very lonely," Hooks told Insider. "Coming from a place like Nashville, geographically everyone is together, whereas New York is really spread out."
Other Outpost residents from different houses said similar things.
"I come home every day and it's like a party," resident Mira Ciganek told Insider. "I look forward to actually being with people."
Ciganek, who lives on the second floor of Outpost's East Bushwick house, said she shares a room with two other people.
But this is no longer an option in 2020. Outpost said it's phasing out rooms with three beds to keep its residents safer, cleaner, and happier.
"When we were first starting out, we wanted to maximize the usable housing space in an effort to keep rents low for our tenants," Outpost told Insider.
Ciganek is a student at Baruch College and said that Outpost was an ideal housing option compared to the alternatives.
"Compared to a dorm, it's like a third of the price. And it's about the same commute," Ciganek told Insider.
But cheaper rent isn't the only selling point for these co-living spaces.
Since they're typically used as transitional accommodations, Outpost offers short-term leases. You can stay for just a month.
"I took the 2.5-month option," Finn told Insider.
Finn said a lot of the other co-living spaces in New York only offered 3-month and 6-month lease options.
Outpost provides all the necessary amenities. All you need to bring with you is a suitcase.
Nicolas Raposo, 21, is the host at the Central Park house. Raposo said hosts welcome new guests, let them know about events, help with events, and solve problems in the house in exchange for accommodation. Outpost declined to comment on the details of the host program.
Raposo told Insider that the experience has helped him meet people. Raposo moved to New York from Brazil last February.
"You wake up listening to people talking in the living room," Raposo told Insider. "There's this family thing — you feel like you have people to rely on."
Raposo and Finn have developed a solid friendship through Outpost even though they live in different houses.
Outpost hosts community events at different houses and sometimes other locations to help members get to know one another.
According to Finn, this is especially helpful for international members.
"When I was living in dorms in Australia, no one really spoke to each other," Finn told Insider. "They just did their study and went home on the weekend."
"But here, because there's no real home away from home, it makes it better to be together," Finn said.
"I think it's because you're forced into this situation where you have to make friends," Finn said. "So you make very strong bonds quite quickly."
But according to some members, co-living may not be for everyone.
"I've found that I'm an extroverted person, and I think this living situation requires being that — at least to get the most out of it," Ciganek told Insider.
Ciganek also mentioned that the social experience at Outpost varies depending on which house you're in and who is living there.
"The floors where people hang out kind of shift depending on who's living there," she continued.
"When I first moved here, the third floor was the party floor. Everyone would just hang out there," Ciganeck told Insider.
"But a lot of the people who made it like that have left," Ciganeck told Insider. "So I pretty much just hang out on my floor now."
"Each roommate I've had has been really cool," Hook told Insider.
"We're each working at different hours," Hook told Insider. "So as a musician I'm there during the day and they're at work so I get to have the house during the day."
Overall, each member seemed to agree that co-living is the ideal housing option for them in New York at this time. "It's much less of an adjustment than I thought it was going to be," Ciganeck said of co-living.
And some members even think it can help you grow as a person. "I think people should try this. It's good to have people around because they can let you know how you can improve yourself. I think that's the best thing about co-living," Raposo said.