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Boarding Houses, but for the 21st Century Professional

WeLive promises nothing less than "a new way of living" – a communal way

The building offers free coffee, tea and beer to residents. Common areas include a chef’s kitchen, an arcade and a yoga studio. The company app keeps residents connected and alerts them of community events like karaoke night, arranged by the building’s designated community manager.

Think of the first location of WeLive, on New York’s Wall Street, as a youth hostel – but not for travel, but instead for contract and temporary workers, or ones who need an occasional pied à terre. For others WeLive will serve as a base for exploring the grand adventure of Real Life. It resembles a dormitory, but for recent graduates who may not yet be ready for big-city rents (or the responsibilities of renting), and who need a place to plant their feet while they figure things out.

The venture is the latest from co-working startup WeWork – a residential equivalent to its network of around 30 spaces around the world, which offer short-term office rental and hot desks.

Just as WeWork caters to freelancers, startups and the like, its 20-floor “co-living” counterpart purports to cater to millennials (particularly the “social butterfly” types), whether fresh college grads or recent New York transplants. It eliminates the dreaded headaches of upkeep, starting utility accounts, and buying/schlepping furniture.

As with its coworking space, WeLive’s M.O. is establishing a sense of community among its residents, evident in the space’s perks. And the first WeLive co-living space is in the same Wall Street building a WeWork location. The second WeLive is planned for Arlington, Va., in the Washington area.

Eighty WeWork employees recently moved into 45 of the 200-plus total available units at the Wall Street pilot, which range from studios to four-bedroom apartments. All units are fully furnished and decorated and house a maximum of eight people with the option for a month-to-month agreement. Rates begin at $1,375 a month for a shared, two-bed studio (all figures in U.S. dollars) that promises to be tricked out with internet, HD TVs and in-ceiling speakers, among other fixins. Those who prefer conventional solitary living conditions (and/or urban hermits), can get private digs at $2,550 a month (still less than New York’s reported average of $3,100 for a one-bedroom). Tenants can also sign on for amenity packages, such as a more frequent cleaning service than that already included, for an extra $150 a month.

According to a leaked investor pitch from 2015, the co-living initiative hopes to hit 34,000 members within the next three years, nearly matching its co-working counterpart’s current total of 40,000. If WeWork’s estimates bear fruit, WeLive will make up about one-fifth of the company’s revenue, good for more than $600 million, by 2018. WeWork is currently valued at $10 billion.

Published Thursday, April 28th 2016

Header image credit: WeLive

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