During the last 1.5 months, I lived in a co-living house with 11 other interesting people I met online in NYC. It was one of the most transformative and enlightening experiences I’ve had, and costed less than half the cost of school tuition.1 I’ve gotten a lot of inquiries/requests to create a starter guide to finding co-living, and here it is! In this piece, I’ll go over why I think co-living is the best alternative to school, tips on finding a co-living house, and a list of popular co-living houses I’ve heard around the space.
I first found out about co-living houses (specifically, Edyfi) through a Slack channel during Treehacks and thought it was intriguing but hadn’t heard of anyone who has done it before. I was a little nervous to try it out in fear that it would be like the “hacker house” start-up culture I saw in the HBO show Silicon Valley.2
I didn’t want to risk living in a high tech-bro culture, so decided not to apply. However, I kept it in the back of my mind.
Over the summer, I watched a vlog by Maggie, in which she vlogged the experience of living in Edyfi, the co-living program I was looking at. Watching the vlog, I instantly regretted not applying. It looked like an amazing experience, nothing like that portrayed in Silicon Valley, and I knew that I would jump on the opportunity to live there in the future.
To assuage my regrets, I decided to arrange an Airbnb and do my own group house with some high school friends in Seattle. Our internships were all remote, so it was convenient to work together in the house.3 One of my friends interned at Amazon and was allowed to bring up to 6 guests in each day, so it was also nice for all of us to use the Amazon HQ as a Wework.4
Doing the group house in Seattle confirmed my love for living in a house with others. Previously, I had only lived at home, in a dorm, and then in a shared one-bedroom apartment with one roommate. I loved the community living at the house with my friends, and wanted to do it more, but this time with people I’ve never met before.
While living in the Seattle house with my friends, I received an email to join the Discord group for Reboot, a Substack newsletter on techno-optimism. Through Reboot, I met so many interesting people, many of which overlapped with the co-living space.5 Particularly, Ivan and Jacky were living in the Edyfi houses at the time, and I also saw that Ben (who started Edyfi) was in the Discord group as well.
After my internship ended at the end of July, I wanted to spend my August really well, so I got a one-month trial to WeWork (TYSM ivan ❤️). Every day, I went to a different WeWork around the Bay6 and went to a couple in Philadelphia on a trip there a week before classes started. As classes drew near, I felt really torn. On one hand, I really wanted to go back to classes in person, but on the other I had learned so much during my one month going to WeWorks and self-learning that I didn’t think school would’ve been more productive for me. I knew that school would just drain away my time towards things I didn’t feel like learning in the moment.
I signed up to chat with Ben despite not having taken a leave yet just to get this on the table in case I decide to take a leave. Talking to him further confirmed my interests in joining one of the houses, but I still couldn’t push myself to bite the bullet just yet. Ultimately, I felt too much FOMO going back in-person to take a leave, so I didn’t get to join the house before all the spots filled up.
The first day of school felt like a dream. It felt like the very first day of college classes again, and it was so nice seeing the campus filled with people once again. I felt rushes of adrenaline from meeting new people in classes, and seeing familiar zoom faces irl.
However, a couple weeks in when midterms started to hit, the magic of meeting people started to fade. People started getting too busy with trivial assignments, I started losing interest in my schoolwork, and bureaucratic class processes frustrated me once again.
I had already experienced school back in person, and I didn’t like it. I created a thread in Reboot and asked others who’ve taken a leave for advice. To my surprise, so many people chimed in and helped me in making my decision. More often than not, I heard that others regretted not taking a leave over taking one. I knew I’d definitely regret it if I didn’t do it now, so I finally did it.7
Since I was now a leave, I started looking back into co-living. Originally was going to try to find a co-living house and then find a sub-letter for my Pittsburgh apartment. I posted a listing in CMU rent/sublet on Facebook and found a couple people. Since it was the middle of the semester, these people were a little weird8 and I couldn’t find a good fit for the fall. I did find someone for the spring, so at least I got that out of the way. At around the same time, I spoke to Ami from Together9 and he told me all the houses currently available were in SF. I didn’t really want to go to SF, but did speak to two of the leads on houses that were opening up there just in case I changed my mind. I kept my ears peeled for spaces in NYC or LA, and decided to stay in Pittsburgh for the moment. I booked a trip to NYC for the end of October to early November just to visit instead.
A couple weeks later, I saw a tweet from Together saying there was a spot that was open in the NYC house. This was it.
I instantly replied and got pulled into a group with together, Ben, and Luke to chat more.
After chatting, they told me that the start date was ideally November 1st. I was already headed to NYC for October 28th, so the only difference would be I don’t come back from NYC after staying there.
I talked to Ben and deliberated for a little — I had a campus job so I would be leaving that, had to cut off my club obligations, would be moving in with a very tight time-frame, would be abandoning my apartment without fully moving out, and would be paying for both Pittsburgh and NYC rent.
However, I ultimately decided that it was worth it. I had never lived in NYC for that long, I was growing tired of being at school without being in school, and I wanted a refresher from finally getting a chance to live with a group of interesting people.
I stayed in my Airbnb in Brooklyn, left in the middle of my stay, didn’t take my return flight back to Pittsburgh, and moved to the house.
I lived on the third floor of the house (the house is 4 floors) in a single. I had a choice to have roommates, but since this was my first time co-living with strangers, I wanted an ease into the community instead of going head-in on having multiple roommates.
I calculated and the costs of rent + living in NYC for 1.5 months was only about half the cost of tuition this semester for the two-month time frame.
Over the next 1.5 months, late night conversations, WeWork sessions, Equinox workouts, Trader Joe’s runs, and steak nights crafted some of the happiest moments of my life. My housemates truly felt like family, and I know I’m so lucky to have shared this chunk of time with them — with many more to come. ✨
I don’t have enough words to describe how amazing the experience was. This was single-handedly the fastest I’ve learned from others and a community, and I haven’t felt this related or connected to others irl for a very long time. I’ll be making a vlog on my experience as well, so stay tuned 😉
One of the most important parts of college is dorm life, but what if you could get that without the stress of classes? That’s exactly what co-living is.
Co-living is breaking the norm of labor-bound cities, allowing us to be more intentional about where we live and who we live with. It is a way to live with others post-grad (or during school outside dorms), and to have a community after college rather than living with colleagues or being bound to a long-term lease.
The house is a physical platform to meet people, it is clubhouse irl, it is teleporting in and out of voice chats and into others. It is a seamless combination of what we’ve tried so hard to mimic with urls and online communities but are missing the in-person aspect of.
I see myself living in co-living several more times, and most others that I’ve met don’t stop once they’ve started living in this format and jump from house-to-house because they love it so much.
how to find a co-living house
sign up on together, the platform as the “airbnb of co-living houses” and they will text you when spots open up
post on twitter asking “looking for a place to stay in __, any leads?”
try visiting a house if you know someone there or connect with someone in the house (there’s also shorter term houses/events like miami hack week or sauced house to try living in a house with others for less than a month)
talk to people that have lived in the houses before for recommendations or leads, lower-key houses that are not publicized are very common and many houses don’t have a formal application process.
if all else fails, think about making/putting together your own house! you could be the fire to spark the community of your dreams 🔥
what i’ve been up to ✨
will be in LA for the next week, then in the bay 23-27th, then off to Hawaii for sauced house until Jan 9th, then off to oxford!! very crazy itinerary but so so excited for it 💖
finished editing my miami vlog!! watch here:
been buying more nfts…….literally becoming a crypto degenerate
bleaching my hair to mushroom brown next week 🍄
finally got my new passport (phew)
;-; lost my new kindle on the airplane to LA, and almost missed my transfer flight and had 10 min to run 20 gates down with my 40lbs of stuff
will be working on a vlog of my experience at edyfi this next week!
my face is 80-90% healed from acupuncture, Dr. Li Na 💖 highly recommend if you’re in NYC and need acupuncture
Please ping me if you’re on the fence of co-living, I’d love to help connect + convince you it’s the way to go. Wishing you all the best holiday season and please don’t catch COVID (it’s really getting scary again). 😷
cost is pro-rated to two months — CMU tuition + my rent in Pittsburgh is ~$9,800/month while my spending in NYC with rent was on average ~$4,500/month
coming from the bay, I have a strong aversion to tech bro culture, I fear raising money, and the idea of creating another generic app startup sickens me
seattle is also has something with taxes that makes it easy and doesn’t affect taxes when relocating and working remotely there!
funnily enough the visitors at amazon outnumbered the interns and it was quite literally pretty much a wework
reboot has been so pivotal in my life — I would’ve never thought about going into crypto, finding so many amazing reading buddies, and taken a leave if I hadn’t found this community and support to make the decisions I did. am eternally grateful to jasmine for crafting this wholesome space in tech 💖
my favorite has got to be the salesforce tower in SF
the day before my first midterm :’) and I was able to get a full refund on tuition this semester as well so didn’t really waste much
one of them asked if she could move in ASAP and asked to sleep on my floor meanwhile even though I had never met her…
ami’s the best, I recommend anyone looking for co-living to go talk to him