Don't Say Dorms: L.A. Millennials Go Communal for Budget, Ease and Socializing

Don’t Say Dorms: How the Town’s Millennials Are Going Communal - Publicity - H 2019
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With monthly rates starting at $800, co-living residences offer necessities (towels, soap) and perks (music studios) for young nomads with "a growing need for community."

After moving to Los Angeles in 2018, Raquel Dominguez bounced around various ZIP codes before stumbling upon the co-living startup Eddy. During a tour of its two buildings in Hollywood, she was struck by its central location, the value and the opportunity to simplify her life. "I remember feeling so much peace," says the 26-year-old actress (CBS' All Rise, NBC's New Amsterdam), who signed a six-month lease for $800 a month to rent a private pod — a bunk-like enclosed sleeping space — along with access to facilities including offices, a gym and community spaces. The lease will get her through pilot season. "For those of us pursuing this dream, we're kind of nomads, and carrying around a bunch of things can be stressful," she says.

Dominguez's experience is reflective of a trend among millennials in the entertainment industry who are opting for a new residential lifestyle. Against the backdrop of L.A.'s housing crisis, these mostly 20- and 30-somethings are aiming to meld affordability with a values system that focuses on owning less stuff while finding increased human interaction.

"It feels like we're trying to get back to something that humans have done for a long time," says Jason Ericson, 33, a software developer for Disney Imagineering. In early December, Ericson ditched his one-bedroom apartment in Glendale and moved into the newly opened Treehouse in Hollywood. There, residents can rent a private bedroom and bathroom for $2,055 to $2,800 a month. Like at Eddy, the rent comes with access to common spaces that include a lounge, a music studio and a computer lab. Treehouse investors include Scooter Braun and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Ericson says he's paying about the same amount as he did for his apartment. But the decision to move wasn't really about money. "There's an increased loneliness in my generation and a lot of that comes from social media and the different ways we interact and don't interact. There's a growing need for community," he says.

Both Eddy and Treehouse require prospective tenants to submit applications (so there is a fairly rigorous screening process for safety) and require a low-three-figure deposit.

One of the fastest growing co-living startups in L.A. is Podshare, which has five locations. Founded by 34-year-old former actress Elvina Beck, Podshare lets residents move among its addresses, allowing guests to try out different L.A. neighborhoods. There is no deposit at Podshare (an ID and credit card are required). A night costs $50, a week $280, and a month's stay runs $1,000 (the highly desirable Venice location costs around 25 percent more). With its open bunks, Podshare feels closest — at least aesthetically — to a traditional hostel.

When Vincent Augusto, 24, moved from Paris in 2018 to study film at UCLA, he wasn't familiar with L.A., much less the hassle of rental leases and security deposits. Augusto, who is also an intern at documentary house Public Road Production, thought he'd try Podshare for a few nights. He's been there six months. "They provide the shampoo, towels, soap. It's not like I need my own bathroom and whenever you want to cook you can access any part of the kitchen," he says.

The biggest challenge for co-living adherents? How to navigate dating and sleepovers. Eddy and Podshare prohibit overnight guests, while Treehouse lets residents on each floor determine their own rules.

Ericson admits some colleagues have a hard time appreciating the co-living concept. "It sounds like a dorm or a retirement home," he says. "In college I couldn't wait to get out of the dorms, but I also look back at it as one of the happiest times of my life."

This story first appeared in the Dec. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.