LA’s latest “co”-craze: Here’s a look at the city’s expanding co-living companies

First it was co-working and the many niche offshoots that followed. Now, co-living is having its moment in LA
By Natalie Hoberman | August 02, 2019 03:00PM

 

By now, everyone knows about co-working, but what about co-living?

In Los Angeles’ pricey and shrinking housing market, finding an affordable place to live is tougher than ever.

Enter co-living companies, whose operators say is an answer to the unaffordability problem plaguing the region. Though widespread throughout the country, the firms have for the most part stayed under the radar. There is nothing close to a WeWork — now We Company — of co-living.

Typically, co-living residents live in small, private units and share amenities like a kitchen or living room with other individuals. It’s intended to be a more affordable option for renters, though with many priced at between $1,500 and $2,000 for a one-bedroom, it is debatable how truly affordable the units are. It’s definitely not as cheap as what the “vanlord” had been offering in Venice, though far less sketchy.

As more co-living firms open new locations across the city, they’re also becoming more specialized, focusing on wellness or a specific industry, as they seek to separate themselves from an expanding field.

Health-centric Haven in Venice offers breathwork and morning jogs for its residents. Another, Upstart, provides members with acting classes and access to recording studios.

While it varies, co-living firms will usually lease a single-family home or building, and then outfit the space so it can be rented out to members. Some companies, such as Starcity and Common, are also starting to delve into new construction.

There are approximately 107 million co-living rental beds across the nation, according to a May report from Cushman and Wakefield. More than 52 percent of that total was delivered in the past year.

The recent spike in co-living has drawn comparisons to co-working, a sector that has exploded in recent years and shares a similar business model.

But while the two share the appeal of flexible leases and provided activities, there are limits. Not everyone wants to live in a “pod”-style bedroom with strangers, and while demand seems to be surpassing supply, it’s unclear whether the niche market will take off in the way co-working has.

And of course, there is the cautionary tale. In New York, co-living startup Bedly abruptly closed its doors last week.