WeWork Announces WeLive, a Co-Living Space

 

Years after making a splash in the coworking business, WeWork is poised to launch the next addition to their business: WeLive, a co-living space.

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It’s hard to wrap your head around what co-living means. WeWork themselves are withholding information for now; we know that they’re building prototypes in Chicago and New York City, but we don’t know what type of housing the buildings will offer. Are we looking at small apartments, like college dorms? Or would they be more like hotels, with high-end amenities and short-term stays?

In an interview with The Guardian, Adam Neumann, WeWork’s CEO, boldly claimed that WeLive would be a “new way of living”. In his words, “you will be a global citizen of the world. If you’re a member of one, you’re a member of all of them”.

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The allure behind this value proposition is a lot like that of private clubs, which are far from a new invention. The notion of paying for good (read: exclusive) company is decades old. You could even say the same about some college fraternities and sororities—there’s a desire for exclusivity and likemindedness, but it often comes across as being needlessly exclusionary to outsiders.

Neumann says the difference is that you don’t have to get voted in by a committee. It’ll be “like a private club that anyone can join”. So money will be the only barrier keeping the average person from securing a spot in a WeLive building—and as long as rent isn’t through the roof, that should mean the buildings will have fairly diverse tenants.

One thing we can say for certain is that WeWork will be pumping money and resources into this new service. Their (perhaps overly ambitious) estimate is that WeLive will be making over $600 million by 2018. Whether or not this wish comes true, it seems like the company is not treating WeLive like a side project or a low-cost experiment.

The idea of a living space for adults styled after a college dorm does hold a certain appeal. There are plenty of adults in their 20s who aren’t married yet and who tend to room with demographically-similar people in their industry. If semi-communal living is already the norm,especially in big cities where the price of living alone is difficult to swallow, then why not take the next logical step and offer a living space where your floormates are chosen for you? Just like in college, you’d have a relatively cheap place with unlimited social potential, without having to sift through Craigslist ads to find a roommate.

We will need to learn the details of WeLive before we can predict what type of people will apply and whether it’ll be successful—price is still a big factor, and it would affect the culture that forms around these spaces. But if the coworking spaces are any indication, WeLive is guaranteed to take off, and it’ll be fascinating to see how other housing providers respond.