If you've seen any classic millennial story on living in New York, you've probably seen co-living.
A tight-knit clan of roomies, laughing over cooking a meal together, awkward overnight guest scenarios; these are all markers of the typical co-living experience in NYC.
It started with Friends, the lovable and quirky team who would do anything for each other.
We can go back to Seinfeld and see a group of neurotic New Yorkers that simply have to argue about e-ver-y-thing. We can watch How I Met Your Mother and see a group of 20somethings have enough disposable income to hang out at a Manhattan bar every night and still afford some really nice Brownstones.
But how reliable are these Hollywood depictions? Is it really as great as it seems in the movies and TV shows? Let's discuss, shall we?
Your obvious first question is likely the age-old "how does someone in their 20's, fresh out of university with little to no work experience, connections, or savings account afford to live in the most expensive city in the world?"
Oh, hey, we were also wondering!
When I first moved to New York I had no clue what I was going to do about housing. I was staying with family and scouring every Craigslist ad and Facebook group for roommates and apartments. I was halfway convinced that my only feasible option was to set up shop in the nook of a subway or behind a bodega.
That's when I found Tribe, a co-living startup based in Brooklyn.
Tribe focuses on "interest-based co-living and tries to match people to houses based on similar interests. So if you're an artist-type, wouldn't it be cool to live with a bunch of other artsy folks? Of course, it makes sense. But what's the price tag, my friend?
Depending on the house you choose, prices range from $800 to $1,200. And that's for a shared room. And when I say shared I do mean a possible bunk bed. Not every room will have a bunk bed, but there are some rooms (a.k.a. my room) that are a very tight fit for two grown people.
Single rooms run around $1,450 to $1,800.
Speaking as someone coming from Colorado, that's the kind of price you can get a two-bedroom in a nice area of town for. So please excuse me as I choke on my scone and do a double take at my bank account.
This is not the only option for you, though. There are other co-living spaces in the city, including Common, a swanky and higher priced option, if that's your bag. Single rooms range from $1,300 to $2,000 but have even more bells and whistles than Tribe.
Now if your eyes are bulging out of your head right now looking at the price tag, there are some hacks to change this, including what I'm doing, which is taking on the position of house manager at Tribe. For a heavily reduced rent, I am entrusted with making sure the house doesn't catch on fire, calling the maintenance guy every two seconds (it seems), and dealing with angry residents if the Wi-Fi goes out for inexplicable reasons.
So, if you're good at planning house events and can deal with one or two crazies here or there, it might suit you well to manage a co-living space and get the cheapest rent you've ever seen. If not, I hope you're down for a bunk bed.
I want you to picture the craziest roommate story you can ever think of. Go ahead. Close your eyes. Got it? Good. Now multiply that by 15-20 people. Oh, wow. That's quite the crazy image, now isn't it!
How practical is a co-living space? Let's break down some logistics.
In my house, there are two full kitchens with a third in the basement on its way. At our fullest capacity of 19 humans, we still had those two kitchens. That's two fridges. For 19 people.
And if you were on my floor there was one human that loved to put his meal, including full pan or pot, directly into the fridge, uncovered, taking up an annoying amount of space. Wait, these people exist? Yes, they do.
Tip: Weekly fridge clean-out sessions with your whole floor. Bye-bye rotting whatever-the-hell-that-is that you refuse to accept is past its prime!
Both Tribe and Common have cleaning services. Our lovely lady comes by on Mondays and does an amazing job cleaning up our home. But do you realize how quick it can seem like she was never there? A day. That's how quick. All it takes is for one dish to conveniently not make its way into the dishwasher and before you know it, BAM!
And you're on your knees power-washing the kitchen because you can't stand one more piece of dirt in your living space. Okay, so this is me we're referring to here. But it can get rough. One dish per person per day left out = I am never letting my mother into this home or she will publically disown me from the family.
Tip: daily cleaning charts with everyone's name on them. And daily pestering and nagging (reads: me being me).
I know it seems like I'm ragging on co-living here, but this is the one that makes it very worth it. Laundry, Wi-Fi (while occasionally spotty), dishware, weekly dinners, networking events, house outings, are all provided in the home. And all of this is truly the draw to living with 20 people in a big city. It's fun! And there's almost always something going down in one of the houses.
For my house, it's a lot of comedy shows, brunches, and weekly dinners and late night dessert sessions. Last month we made a taco bar and all got out trigger on watching the Game of Thrones finale in the basement.
Tip: attempt to be a part of the community, suggest events, and get to know your co-living fam!
This is such a primetime reason to get on the co-living train.
When I first got here I had a handful of friends from various stages of my past, most of which couldn't make a lot of time to hang out with me or show me around the city. It's nothing personal, it's just a gigantic city and I don't care how many glasses of wine we shared in college
I am not going to be making a trip from Brooklyn to Jersey to see you on a Tuesday.
Cut to now and within the first week I got virtually free new headshots for my comedy (I bought him lunch and he took some great pictures of my face), I have a running buddy, I am in a house writer's group, and I am planning on shooting a promo video with a filmmaker in the house for my upcoming book. Um, yes!
Our housemates have hooked each other up with internships, jobs, new friends, book suggestions, and more. And everyone is absolutely willing to help someone in any way they can if you literally just share a cookie with them.
Speaking of "hooking up!"
You do the math. 10 dudes + 10 ladies (although not entirely proportionate...I was the first female in my house with 14 guys! Hi, Mom!) = the possibility for some sexual shenanigans. It's not crazy to meet someone cool and kinda cute in your kitchen when you have no makeup or pants on.
Shoot, it happened to me! And if can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. Also, I'd like to clarify that last statement and tell you that I was wearing pants when we met.
There are a lot of interesting people in co-living houses, and I'd be lying if I said some of them weren't total babes. It's kind of an unspoken understanding within the house if people are crushin', flirtin', or, well, you know. 9 times out of 10 the entire house knows something is up but nobody will say anything. And maybe that's just fine. If you need a sock to put on your door, we got 'em!
Outside of romantic relationships, co-living really is a great place to meet new friends. Some houses, like mine, are super international. At our prime, we've represented countries like Russia, India, France, Italy, England, Hungary, and all over the United States (shout out to my Colorado fam, I'm still alive!).
There's no better way to stretch your understanding of the world than to share a glass of Vodka with a real Russia or listen to two of your favorite Indian housemate's pace around the kitchen arguing about business models in Hindi!
To sum it all up for y'all, co-living is an experience like none other.
It can test you at times to live with so many people, challenge your understanding of the world with exposure to new cultures, and provide you with a vast network of dope people who would do anything for you.
Just make sure you get that messy bun game strong in case you meet your next Bae![Feature Image Courtesy Fox]