Inside the ‘co-living’ spaces where millennials pay over $1,400 a month for maid service and instant friends

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Shared-housing startup Common is adding properties .in Chicago and Oakland to its growing real-estate portfolio
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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

If you’ve ever searched for an apartment on Craigslist, Common is coming for you.

Founded in 2015, the shared-housing startup offers fully furnished apartments across New York, the Bay Area, Chicago, and Washington, DC. Common eliminates the hassle of finding an apartment and dealing with landlords.

Residents, or “members,” can join these communities and instantly tap into amenities like free internet, maid service, and instant friends. But such convenience doesn’t come cheap. Monthly rent at Common ranges from $1,325 to $2,600 depending on the location and type of room.

The market for communal living, or “co-living,” spaces is quickly crowding. Companies like Open Door, HubHaus, and WeLive, a subsidiary of co-working giant WeWork, are competing for millennials’ dollars as young people continue moving to high-priced urban areas.

In the last month, Common revealed it’s adding properties in Chicago, Queens, and Oakland to its growing real-estate portfolio. Take a look inside two of its new residences to see what co-living is like.


Common is a sweet solution for city transplants — if they can afford it.

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Common

The company’s newest property is a 12-unit residence in the up-and-coming (read: fast-gentrifying) Hoover-Foster neighborhood in west Oakland, California. Rent starts at $1,425.

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Common

The new property was announced on July 26 and opens in August.


The building is laid out similar to a dorm, with 45 furnished bedrooms spread across 12 shared suites. Three to four suite-mates share an open-concept living room and kitchen.

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Common

Common offers a standard 12-month lease, as well as a six-month option for more flexibility.


It’s easy to make the “dorm for adults” comparison, but the similarities end when you walk into one of the bedrooms. Common’s rooms look torn from the pages of a magazine.

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Common

The bedrooms (which are all single-occupancy) come move-in ready with mattresses by Bear and Casper, designer linens by Parachute and Snowe, a dresser, and a nightstand.

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Common

A cleaning crew comes once a week to mop, sweep, and scrub the common areas. It’s the tenants’ responsibility to keep private bathrooms and bedrooms as tidy as they please.

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Common

The crown jewel of the new home in Oakland is the outdoor space — a rare amenity for renters. Some of the suites offer direct entry to the courtyard, which the company said increases the likelihood that members will hang out.

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Common

Brad Hargreaves, founder and CEO of Common, wants the design of the company’s homes to encourage spontaneous connections between members.

When the serial entrepreneur set out to build Common, he visited dozens of housing arrangements – from hacker houses in the Bay Area to a desert commune in Arizona. He studied the pain points and cherry-picked the details he liked for Common’s floor layouts.

“A lot of what we’re trying to do is rethink the layout of buildings as a whole to adapt for community and to keep the benefit of living with others,” Hargreaves told Business Insider.


In Chicago, a newly opened Common residence in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood uses clever design — and seductive city views — to draw tenants into the community.

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Common

The home contains 12 furnished bedrooms across three shared suites. Its amenities include a communal space for member-led events, a roof deck, and front and rear terraces.

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Common

The new home welcomed its first tenants in July. Rent starts at $1,325 a month.


I can’t say I’ve ever lived in a dorm with a shower that nice.

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Common

Even the mudroom is classy.

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Common

Critics are quick to dismiss co-living as a fringe trend. But Common is on its way to making co-living a major category in the real-estate market.

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Common

Since launching in October 2015, Common hasn’t been able to keep up with demand.

The startup, which currently operates more than 10 houses across four popular US cities, wants to expand from 650 bedrooms by the end of the year to 1,500 rooms in 2018. It already receives between 500 and 700 applications from eager renters each week.