General Assembly cofounder Brad Hargreaves wants you to stop fighting with your roommates.
His new company, Common, is one of a few “co-living” startups that have sprung up in places like New York and San Francisco, designed to bring the tech ethos to bear on the idea of communal living. On Saturday, Common opened by far its biggest project to date, a 51-bedroom complex in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighbourhood.
Co-living is just a fancy way of saying living with people other than your family, and Hargreaves explains that the idea behind Common isn’t meant to be revolutionary. People sometimes approach Common like it’s some completely new invention, he says. But really what he wants to do is craft the ideal roommate experience for someone who doesn’t necessarily have an extended social network in New York to tap into (more than half of Common residents are first-time New Yorkers).
Common tries to do this by taking care of things that cause tension between roommates, like cleaning and buying communal furniture, and setting up the living situation in a way that encourages people to be social with their neighbours.
But Hargreaves doesn’t like the comparison to a “dorm for adults.” He says that implies things like shared bedrooms (none of the bedrooms at Common are shared except for couples) and flimsy furniture. But despite his protests, the co-living idea does seem meant to recapture the spirit of dorm life, where it’s easy to hang out with your neighbours and make new friends — just with greatly upgraded amenities (and a price to match).
Here’s how it works: