One solution to the increasing demand for, and cost of, housing in major cities is shared accommodation. The thought may send shivers down your spine, but US-based Common has a new take on the concept, offering highly specced, flexible, community-focused housing for the 21st century.
"The housing crisis in cities like New York is preventing qualified individuals from finding secure housing and, in many cases, the rental requirements are just unrealistic," says founder and CEO of Common Brad Hargreaves. "Common is changing this, with over 250 applications for our first building alone, there is clearly a demand for new, flexible housing solutions, and we look forward to building a community for our residents."
The first building Hargreaves speaks of is in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn, US. Covering an area of 7,300 sq ft 678 sq m), it houses 19 private bedrooms across four floors of living space. The bedrooms range from 100-150 sq ft (9-14 sq m) and each has its own window, high-quality bedding, including a Casper mattress and Parachute sheets, and "stylish" West Elm armoires and dressers.
The first floor of the building is a shared dining space and community room, which has plenty of space for hosting guests. There are also communal social spaces on each floor as well as a small outdoor area. Residents must share the kitchens too, but all kitchenware is provided and they are stocked with typical supplies such as coffee, tea and paper towels.
Common Crown Heights features a variety of high-tech additions for the benefit of residents, too. A SmartThings hub allows residents to control home automation appliances from their mobile devices, while Nest thermostats learn the rhythm of the residents' lifestyles to ensure that temperatures are kept optimal.
Elsewhere there is an entertainment center in the basement with a with projector and Sonos speakers, 55-in LED TVs with Chromecasts in the community room, VingCard RFID/Bluetooth door locks that are compatible with keycards, phones and Apple watches, a video doorbell system and internet-connected security cameras.
Residents also benefit from hi-speed WiFi, laundry facilities and weekly cleaning services in communal spaces and bathrooms, all of which are included in the monthly accommodation fee. Utility bills are also rolled into the price, meaning residents needn't worry about being caught out by any unexpected bills.
Naturally, a shared building of this ilk needs to be managed, to keep it running smoothly and ensure any maintenance issues are dealt with. Common uses a three-pronged structure for this, with a community manager to provide support to the residents and coordinate events, a property manager to deal with maintenance issues and a house leader (a resident who operates as a liaison between Common and the other residents).
Common's Crown Heights building opened this week and the company is due to open two more buildings soon. Rooms at Crown Heights cost US$1,800-$1,950 per month.