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Standish, 31, lives here with 10 other people. The house, called Euclid Manor, isn't a college dorm. It's not a hostel-style "hacker house" either. According to Standish, this isn't a tech thing, or a hippie thing, or a rent-is-too-expensive-and-I'm-desperate thing. It's called co-living, and it's a lifestyle choice emerging among young people who favor Airbnb over hotels and Lyft rides over car ownership. Rather than seeking out housemates on Craigslist, city-dwellers in high-cost markets such as the Bay Area and New York City are now paying companies — some small and others, like WeWork, backed by millions in venture capital — a premium to live in a building with a curated roster of housemates, stocked kitchens and planned get-togethers.
"Humans are very social beings and pre-Industrial Revolution we lived in large groups," Standish said while showing off Euclid Manor's dining room, which has a long, banquet-length table used for house meetings and dinner parties. "I mean, this house is an interesting example of that. It was built in 1910, and back then you'd have these huge estates where there were 20 people living in a house together," though many were live-in servants. (A "totally different dynamic," he said). But Standish thinks that many people, particularly millennials, are eschewing the American dream of owning a house in favor of finding a second family of like-minded people.
"The best way to describe the mentality that encapsulates where we're at is the 'modern nomad,'" said Benja Juster, 28, an interactive experience designer who lives in the Canopy, whose residents are all in their mid-20s to mid-30s. "It's a desire to not be locked down to one physical location … to go with the wind and find where life may take you."
OpenDoor is testing a different ownership structure for each of its houses to see what works best. It rents the Farmhouse, its first business venture, and subleases it to tenants. It bought its second house, the Canopy, outright. OpenDoor operates the investor-owned Euclid Manor. The company's revenue comes from the rent it collects from tenants, usually $1,000 to $1,200 a month, depending on the room and house. Standish and Provan declined to reveal OpenDoor's margins, but said the properties are profitable, and co-living provides better returns than traditional housing. For tenants, the rent is more expensive than sharing a home with 10 or so roommates, but comparable to living with fewer housemates in the same neighborhood.
Aside from the food program, which lowers the cost of groceries, Standish and Provan said residents also get access to appliances and facilities uncommon in shared apartments — at Euclid Manor those include West Elm furnishings, a grand piano, a Vitamix and a cafe-grade coffee machine. The Canopy has a soundstage, a woodworking studio, and large living rooms with projectors and musical instruments. But what tenants are really paying for is the "community," Standish said. "Living as family, basically."
What it highlights to me is how inept Millennials really are. Bunch of adults in name only. Too scared to face the real world, with real responsibilities. These suckers never want their college years to end.