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The Almighty Buck News

Dorms For Grownups: a Solution For Lonely Millennials? 412

HughPickens.com writes: Alana Semuels writes in The Atlantic that Millennials want the chance to be alone in their own bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens, but they also want to be social and never lonely.That's why real estate developer Troy Evans is starting construction on a new space in Syracuse called Commonspace that he envisions as a dorm for Millennials. It will feature 21 microunits, each packed with a tiny kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living space into 300-square-feet. The microunits surround shared common areas including a chef's kitchen, a game room, and a TV room. "We're trying to combine an affordable apartment with this community style of living, rather than living by yourself in a one-bedroom in the suburbs," says Evans. The apartments will be fully furnished to appeal to potential residents who don't own much (the units will have very limited storage space). The bedrooms are built into the big windows of the office building—one window per unit—and the rest of the apartment can be traversed in three big leaps. The units will cost between $700 and $900 a month. "If your normal rent is $1,500, we're coming in way under that," says John Talarico. "You can spend that money elsewhere, living, not just sustaining."

Co-living has also gained traction in a Brooklyn apartment building that creates a networking and social community for its residents and where prospective residents answer probing questions like "What are your passions?" and "Tell us your story (Excite us!)." If accepted, tenants live in what the company's promotional materials describe as a "highly curated community of like-minded individuals." Millennials are staying single longer than previous generations have, creating a glut of people still living on their own in apartments, rather than marrying and buying homes. But the generation is also notoriously social, having been raised on the Internet and the constant communication it provides. This is a generation that has grown accustomed to college campuses with climbing walls, infinity pools, and of course, their own bathrooms. Commonspace gives these Milliennials the benefits of living with roommates—they can save money and stay up late watching Gilmore Girls—with the privacy and style an entitled generation might expect. "It's the best of both worlds," says Michelle Kingman. "You have roommates, but they're not roommates."
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Dorms For Grownups: a Solution For Lonely Millennials?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @11:21AM (#50900873)

    There will be a few people that will completely ruin the shared living space for everyone, and if there's no one to police it, the whole place will go to hell.

    • Very good question. I always managed to land douchey roommates in college when I didn't have a choice about it, and sometimes even when I did. Even if it's "curated" (is that even legal?), that's a lot of opportunity for Big Brother-type drama. Some people like micro living and I'm sure people will be attracted to that. Sort of an upscale intentional community of sorts.
      • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @12:47PM (#50901685) Journal

        Interestingly enough, even military barracks often came with a CQ desk (and a voluntold person manning it) to keep order, and they reported to an NCO in charge of the building. Didn't slow down much - usually they only responded to something that got too violent or drunken. OTOH, the military imparts a way different mindset, and people get used to living in close quarters very quickly. It's not for everybody; on my part I tolerated it as a necessary evil, and moved into my own quarters (read: apartment) as quickly as my budget allowed.

        You just learn to get along, even if you didn't like your bunkmates. If you didn't, then you were gently escorted out back by everyone else, where you and the object of your ire settled things in a quick, violent, but ultimately final* argument. Overall, you learn a valuable set of lessons from the experience of living together in tight quarters. You learn to tolerate personal quirks, you expand your own horizons a bit while you take in other cultures and habits, and you learned to live in a way that didn't outright offend everyone else around you. It's good training for married life, truth be told. ;)

        Now for civilians, I don't see it happening very well. The military molded your mind in ways that accommodated close living. Civilians (At least American ones) don't necessarily have the mindset or skills. Some cultures (usually Asian ones) are very well suited for it, but I don't see too many Western folks jumping at the chance unless circumstances (e.g. outrageous local rent costs) make it necessary.

        * mind you, nobody died or anything - you just beat the hell out of each other, then drank yourselves silly while you patched things up and sorted the problem out.

        • OK, I'm talking out my ass here as my only personal experience with roommates is not military, but in college where I'd only have one roommate at a time, and usually didn't get along all that well with them which led to me moving to my own apartment ASAP. And now that I'm older, I have one failed marriage under my belt so obviously I didn't do so well in living together there either. So the following is theoretical.

          Suppose they built a bunch of large buildings like proposed in TFA, divided into groups of

          • It strikes me that creating a community without your "fatal flaw", that is, with the ability for the group to throw person(s) X out of their living space, is a lifestyle end game that will magnify political correctness, mommyism, retribution, and groupthink to their maximum level of imposition.

        • I like having people over to visit my place, and be sociable and go to their place...BUT, man, I do NOT like sharing walls with people.

          I spent a healthy amount of money over the decades building my AV system...and I like to exercise it. Yes, from time to time, I like to watch the Flintstones and concert volume.

          I don't wanna bother people and I don't want them bothering me (kids crying...drives me up the wall).

          SO, I don't think I could do this...and besides, I'm renting a 3 bedroom stand alone house with

    • Why did you have to bring curry into this?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly what I was popping in to post.

      I had roommates once who, not only plugged the toilet, BUT continued to use it throughout a 4-day weekend while I was away. Getting back to find a toilet overflowing with excrement and two "adults" expecting me to play plumber ...

      God bless the RA who stepped in and chewed them out. But seriously? People suck. Enforcement is going to be a nightmare with this - either it won't be strict enough and the common areas will go to shit (loud music until 4am? SOUNDS GOOD), o

    • Rule through fear instead of through idealistic government agencies.

    • by njnnja ( 2833511 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @12:40PM (#50901587)

      Yes there is an RA. From TFA:

      Fear not, Evans and partner John Talarico are hiring a “social engineer” who will facilitate group events and maintain harmony among roommates.... the social engineer is there to moderate disputes and kick out anybody who misbehaves.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jafiwam ( 310805 )

      There will be a few people that will completely ruin the shared living space for everyone, and if there's no one to police it, the whole place will go to hell.

      Yup.

      Because for that generation "being lonely" is lack of "look at mee! look at mee!"

      They are less interested in interaction than they are broadcasting to a captive audience.

      I say give them what they want, provide melee weapons and mount cameras on the walls with livestreaming to youtube..

    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      You're looking for an HoA.

  • assistied living (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So like assisted living for old people.

    These sorts of projects either go *really* well. Or *really really* badly. It just depends on who owns everything, who is responsible for fixing/cleaning, and what sort of people you get in there.

    So if you get a bunch of people who are really into 'lets fix everything' and 'here let me help you do that' you may do OK. If you get a bunch of slack ass jerk offs it will end badly.

  • by cirby ( 2599 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @11:27AM (#50900947)

    Someone will apply, get rejected, and sue, because they were turned down due to age, income level, number of children, political affiliation, type of job - or any of the other hundred reasons to sue for housing discrimination.

    "Highly curated" is just another term for "we don't want your smelly kind here, peasant!"

  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @11:28AM (#50900953) Homepage
    Called an apartment complex. If the corporate owner slapped on a coat of exterior paint, added new landscaping and jacked up the rents, it's called an luxury apartment complex. An apartment complex next door to a college university isn't that far removed from a dorm.
    • These remind me of the old school apartments that women used to live in when they were young and single.
      • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @12:09PM (#50901337)

        I think a loooonnggg time ago it was called a rooming house. You got a bedroom, your in-room bath was a pitcher of water, wash basin and a chamber pot. Meals were served in the dining room. You went to {bathhouse, whorehouse, river} to bathe, although I'm sure at least some offered a tub once a week.

        Then they had efficiency apartments. I lived in one built in the 1920s -- galley kitchen, breakfast nook, one giant room, large closet and a bathroom.

        I rather liked the efficiency. For a while I used the breakfast nook as my bedroom with a curtain to separate it off, which made the one large room more like a combined living/dining area.

        It was also dirt cheap, but I never felt quite like an adult until I moved into a place with an actual bedroom.

      • by lucm ( 889690 )

        That still exists, but now there's webcams and it costs $29.99 a month to watch.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        My mother used to visit with an old lady named Mrs. Jones every so often. Being a kid, I couldn't figure out how my mother knew this woman. My mother was from 100 miles away and Mrs. Jones wasn't related to us or a friend of anyone else in the family.

        Then I figured out that, she had run a house where young single women would stay. My mother had been dating my father since college, but they didn't get married immediately because she is two years older, so dad had to finish college first and then had to sa

    • My school has that, but first year students have to live in the crusty old dorms built in the 1970s. Genders are separated, and multiple people sleep in the same room on bunks. When people think of dorms, they think of that. Not the new thing you describe.

      And yeah, I'll agree with you, it sucks - they charge per student, rather than per unit. So at the new buildings you're paying something like $800 a month for a bedroom, and so is everyone else in that apartment. In a 4 (cramped) bedroom apartment they're

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Isn't the main difference between an apartment and a dormitory that in an apartment you don't have to share facilities? You get your own kitchen, bathroom and living space. In a dorm even your bedroom might be shared (bunk beds).

      Or is it something else? I'm not American, but I always thought that an apartment was what British people call a flat. The most minimal we have is a "studio flat", which is basically one room that has kitchen, living space and bedroom in one, and then a separate bathroom.

      • Isn't the main difference between an apartment and a dormitory that in an apartment you don't have to share facilities?

        Typically, yes.

        What most people in North America mean by apartment is "you have a self-contained unit to dwell in; kitchen, living space, bathroom, possibly a bedroom". Your studio flat is the same as our studio apartment. With the possible exception of laundry, it's got all its own facilities.

        This seems to be giving an intermediate solution between living on your own, and living with you

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @11:31AM (#50900977)

    They used to have adult dorms very similar to what's described...state mental hospitals. :-)

    Seriously. I somehow doubt this catching on. Every Millenial portrait I've seen/heard/read is a caricature...I have seen very few people who fit what are cemented as unshakable models of the generation. Outside of San Francisco hipster startup culture, I doubt anyone actually wants to live in a college dorm past their early 20s. I graduated in the 90s, so I was just before the generation that had all sorts of crazy dorm amenities like private bedrooms...my brother who is 6 years younger than I got to experience apartment style living.

    Just because people grow up with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter doesn't make them all narcissistic social butterflies. It seems to me that if someone actually wanted this kind of experience, they could choose to live in a densely populated urban core and talk to their neighbors more often.

    • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      I've seen this as well. They're called "retirement homes," and they're populated with indigent elderly living on their government benefits. There are huge buildings full of them near all major public hospitals in the US.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Outside of San Francisco hipster startup culture, I doubt anyone actually wants to live in a college dorm past their early 20s.

      And even then, it may be because living near an employer in the Bay Area has become unaffordable.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Excuse me? A room full of people staring at their phones is "social" now? I'm old? ( turned 30 in june )
  • by khr ( 708262 ) <kevinrubin@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @11:35AM (#50901009) Homepage

    21 microunits, each packed with a tiny kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living space into 300-square-feet

    I don't get it... Why are they calling 300 square feet "microunits"? Sounds like a relatively normal size to me... Of course, I live in midtown Manhattan, so for $2,200 a month my wife and I get a 350 square foot place in a building with 20 of them (though I think unit 1D, by the stairwell might be smaller). We have a nice kitchen...

    • Why are they calling 300 square feet "microunits"?

      Because such an apartment is smaller than the smallest single-family dwellings that some city building codes allow. This has forced some supporters of the small house movement [wikipedia.org] to mount a house on wheels to avoid regulations that apply only to permanent structures.

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      300 feet is pretty small. A normal size single bedroom apartment is more like 700. Well everywhere I have lived and either had or known someone who had a single anyway. Disclosure I have never lived in NYC or Tokyo. Usually a two bedroom will be around 900 ft.

      So 300ft is pretty tight. It sounds like we really are talking about something the size of your college dorm room + a little kitchen space + tv area. I guess it would be alright for someone who just graduated or is moving out of their parents pl

    • I don't get it... Why are they calling 300 square feet "microunits"? Sounds like a relatively normal size to me... Of course, I live in midtown Manhattan, so for $2,200 a month my wife and I get a 350 square foot place in a building with 20 of them (though I think unit 1D, by the stairwell might be smaller). We have a nice kitchen...

      I also pay about $2200/month for me and my 3 kids but I live in a 6000 sqft house with a 4 car garage on 4 acres with a private stocked 4 acre lake in the backyard.
      Oh, I'm also only about 10 minutes away from 2 major hospitals, an airport, and several excellent colleges including a top college football team.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @11:43AM (#50901083)

    I don't think this is a bad idea at all, but when I moved out of the dorm one thing I actually missed was the cafeteria and meal plan.

    I remember disliking the food a lot, but although I ate better living in an apartment, eating better was a burden in terms of shopping, cooking, times where food got tossed because plans and schedules change, etc. I actually found myself missing the sheer convenience of food service. Even though I didn't always love what the hot choices were and opted for yet another salad and sandwich bar sandwich, all I had to do was show up.

    The shared area around the rooms would be interesting (I remember the common areas being popular), but I would worry it would be too noisy and chaotic. They'd have to do something clever with architecture and flow to make it so that individual rooms remained quiet.

    • Yeah, I'm a house-dweller, but I'd love a community kitchen that served healthy meals to be nearby. While in the UK, in a town you're never really very far from a pub that serves food, it's all too a la carte to be regarded as inexpensive.

  • With 21 twentysomethings sharing space, I can only imagine the sheer amount of drama and bullshit that will occur on a daily basis.

    Also, 21 people sharing a common space? This is Slashdot, I don't need to repeat the story of "the tragedy of the commons".

  • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @11:56AM (#50901209) Journal

    The problem with this idea is that people will be fine with it for a year or two post-graduation, but it's going to start to suck fairly quickly after that.

    It's not unusual for people to cling to elements of their student life after they graduate and get their first jobs. I did the same myself; moved into a shared house with a few people I'd known at university and tried to keep a student-ish lifestyle running alongside a full-time job.

    It lasted 18 months. Then I gave up and rented a place on my own.

    The demands of being a full member of the workforce are very different to the demands of being a student. When you're having to get up at a set time every morning (and generally pretty early), find yourself getting older and needing a regular sleep-pattern, needing a quiet space to do work that actually matters (rather than essentially being for your own benefit, as your work as a student was) and so on, the whole shared-living thing breaks down pretty rapidly. Irritations about your cohabitees different body-clocks, cooking smells, personal hygiene and expectations of reasonable noise levels all start to feel much more important than they did when you were still studying. And as you get more and more irritated with them, they are getting more and more irritated with you.

    On top of that, this is generally the time when many people are going to be getting into more lasting romantic relationships, which might eventually lead to marriage and kids. This is not easy when you're sharing accommodation with a bunch of other people and personal space is a scarce commodity.

    I guess they might make this work as a commercial proposition if it's a short-term rental affair. The problem is that if you get longer-term residents who age significantly past the incomers, this is going to turn into a vision of hell pretty fast.

    What this certainly isn't is an alternative to providing sufficient quantities of decent quality new housing suitable for long-term occupation and family life. That's what we're very short of here in the UK. The issue here for Millennials is that whether or not they want to live like this, they may well have no choice. The option of renting my own place that was open to me more than a dozen years ago (let alone buying one, as I later did) is a lot less accessible now, due to rising rents.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      What this certainly isn't is an alternative to providing sufficient quantities of decent quality new housing suitable for long-term occupation and family life.

      Bingo. That's what this really is about. Building these units will create yet another excuse for employers to not pay salaries high enough for workers to really be able to afford local housing, or for a legal confrontation over building permits (being denied in areas that are short on housing to allow existing property owners to gouge renters). This way, when people complain they can point to these new common arrangements and say "there's an affordable living situation right there -- you guys are just being

    • The OP described 300 square foot units with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living are, surrounding a shared living area with additional amenities. So, each resident would have their own private space.

      This is actually more than some families (2 parents plus 1 or 2 kids - or 1 parent plus 2 or 3 kids) are able to afford.

      Looking at the floor plan in TFA, the individual units are similar to some 2 room suites I've been in in hotels - except the hotel suites lacked a kitchen (having only a microwave and a mini

  • At least the price is right unlike college where they cost more then renting ON YOUR OWN for not even full year round.

  • by naughtynaughty ( 1154069 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @12:02PM (#50901267)
    A highly curated community of like minded individuals sounds like the opposite of diversity. Or maybe they'll have a few tokens allowed in so they can point with pride to their open-minded brand of like mindedness.
  • When they reject my application because I'm 45, will that be discriminatory?
  • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @12:23PM (#50901471) Homepage
    Co-op living [wikipedia.org] have been around for a long time. Maybe they're trying to give it a more mainstream or upmarket image, but it's not really new.
    • I lived in the Co-op at UC Berkeley back in the 70's. A great way to live. Today the Berkeley Co-op charges students $700/month for room and board, which is zilch in the SF Bay Area.
  • Back 20 years ago 3 or 4 people would buy a hose or large apartment together and split the rent with each taking a bedroom. It was way cheaper than 3 or 4 single apartments and you would share the common space. Does that still exist?

    • I lived in such situation 20 years ago. Now, I am a rental owner, and I very rarely see this situation. I don't know if it doesn't appeal to the younger generation, or if it just doesn't cross their mind. I have literally had 2 such roommate relationships out of what is close to 100 contracts at this point.
  • So people want the headaches of dealing with potentially completely unknown strangers to have conflicts with? I used to work for a college and the dorms were dominated by conflicts between roomies 90% of the time from the sound of it... Regardless of how well they tried to find similar people to put together with surveys and other measures. That's also with thousands of people to work with each year as well.

    These sounds like serious headaches.

  • I'm way too old to directly relate, but I work with plenty of people in the millennial generation and can still remember what life was like for me in my 20's.

    Off-hand, I can see the attraction for a certain segment of the population, but don't know that I'd call it a "trend" just yet? In a way, this reminds me of those restaurants (most often the Japanese Steakhouses) where they purposely seat you at a table next to a number of strangers. Some people really enjoy the encouragement to socialize it creates, b

  • I don't understand why this gets such negativity. I for one welcome the change in our stiff way of life. Living in a community makes people responsible and accountable. What happens when you take that away? Big city people. Have you met them? Everyone hates New Yorkers, Parisians, etc. Why? Because they don't live in a community, they're just another 'anon'.
  • like seniors apartments. Different amenities, but those can change as the overgrown children age

  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh.gmail@com> on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @01:56PM (#50902469) Journal

    The concept sounds similar to the terrafoam welfare dorms from Marshall Brain's Manna:

    http://marshallbrain.com/manna... [marshallbrain.com]

    At least this building would have individual bathrooms, and the building's small enough that there are windows for everyone...

  • by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @02:50PM (#50902995)
    College dorms run pretty well but there is a good reason why. Any problems in a dorm can bring down the wrath of Khan upon you. Getting tossed out of college without any refund or even a willingness to credit you for past semesters can come to roost in your gut over a single problem. A thrown punch meant expulsion. In some colleges one beer was enough to get you expelled even if you had that beer at home on New Year's Eve. A dorm run with a lower level of control may not work at all. And by the way $800 a month rent is far too nasty anywhere for any dwelling.
  • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @02:53PM (#50903015)

    They are basically renting 300 sq-ft apartments with a nice common room. All the rest is bullshit.
    How it will work will depend entirely on the rent price.

    They are trying to push some "interesting" concept, but in the end it doesn't matter. What matter are the basics : price, size, location, ...

  • by jsepeta ( 412566 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @07:36PM (#50905251) Homepage

    in the future, everyone is broke so we have to huddle together in ghettos known as dormitories

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