As millennials continue to move in droves to the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most expensive rental markets in America, housing companies are catering to them in new ways.
Young people have long crowded into single-family homes and apartments with large numbers of roommates, in an effort to save money and find community. Now companies are capitalizing on the trend by creating all-inclusive housing that comes with perks like free internet, maid service, and a built-in social networks. In exchange, residents pay rent to the startup instead of a typical landlord.
Founded in 2016, co-living startup HubHaus is a fast-rising challenger in the space. Unlike competitors like WeLive and Common that offer rooms in apartment-style digs, HubHaus puts people up in multimillion-dollar houses. “Members,” as residents are called, can join one of 41 (and growing) houses in the San Francisco Bay Area and instantly tap into amenities.
We met up with HubHaus cofounder and CEO Shruti Merchant in the Los Altos, California, home valued at $3.69 million that she shares with eight other people. Here’s what it was like.
In 2015, 23-year-old tech entrepreneur Shruti Merchant was living in Cupertino, California, in a single-family home she would never be able to afford if it weren’t for her six roommates.
A group of her friends put together a down payment and turned the suburban estate into a communal living, or “co-living,” oasis. The medical school drop-out found that co-living had its perks — like the quality of real estate they could afford together — but was not without its flaws.
Because of the number of roommates, turnover was high. The residents kept busy hunting for people to fill vacancies and collecting rent payments each month. It became a hassle.
The idea for HubHaus came from her desire to create hassle-free shared housing. The startup leases homes from owners and finds community-seeking tenants to fill them.
“We take care of the logistics so people can focus on the community,” Merchant said.
Over the past year, the company has expanded to 41 houses in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Members pay on average $1,275 a month to live in beautiful homes located near top Bay Area tech companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and Tesla, as well as movie studios in LA.
Rent ranges from $500 to $2,600 per month, based on variables including location, access to a private or shared bath, square footage of the room, and amenities like a pool and parking.