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New York apartments: Common, Ollie, and other non-traditional rentals

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Not every rental situation in NYC is the same

Dining Room at Common Herkimer
A dining room at Common Herkimer, one of the co-living company’s Brooklyn houses.

New Yorkers have long had their pick of non-traditional housing options, though many of those—such as old-school boarding houses, or single-room occupancy units, also known as SROs—have dissipated as standards of living have gotten, well, better. (Of course, you’ll still find SROs renting throughout the five boroughs, but that’s another story.)

But the rise of the tech-driven “sharing economy” has brought a new crop of alternative housing options, such as co-living, where renters are given perks—like free housekeeping services, flexible leases, or access to special events—in exchange for their privacy. While this new crop of alternative rentals don’t offer the savings of an SRO, they do promise a built-in community and a spate of dorm-like amenities, including communal lounges, building-wide chat rooms, and weekly happy hours.

If you’re looking for something a bit different from a standard New York City rental situation, here are four unique options throughout the city.

A rendering of a common area at Ollie’s forthcoming Long Island City project.
3D World Renderings


What it is: Ollie, which calls itself an “all-inclusive living platform,” partners with developers to offer an amenity package that’s more like a hotel than a traditional rental. To wit: Not only will Ollie furnish your space, it’ll also provide services like regular housecleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping. Members also have access to work spaces, swimming pools, and spas at other buildings featuring the Ollie service, and the company hosts events like lectures, mixers, and travel for users.

Its first NYC project was Carmel Place, the city’s first micro-unit housing development. After the success of that, Ollie is now expanding: The company will partner with Simon Baron Development and Quadrum Global to bring its services a new Long Island City development next year, and will head to Jersey City in 2019.

The cost: Ollie’s services are worked into a tenant’s monthly rent, and the company estimates that its perks equal to $575 a month in savings. At Carmel Place, pricing for a micro studio begins at $2,775 a month.

How to get in: There’s an application process for prospective tenants, in which they can apply to a specific floor plan through Ollie’s website. They will receive a credit check and if approved, submit a deposit. Currently, you can rent Ollie units within Carmel Place, the micro-unit development in Kip’s Bay. Ollie’s website offers details on availability.

A bedroom at Common Cornelia in Ridgewood.


What it is: New York’s most expansive co-living company provides “community-minded shared living solutions.” Common acts as the property manager for each of its buildings; renters are considered “members,” and get their own rooms but share kitchens, bathrooms, and other spaces. (Necessities like Wi-Fi, heating and A/C, laundry, and toiletries are also included in the monthly rent.)

Leases are also more flexible than at traditional rentals: Members have the option of moving to a different building without penalty, and if they needs to move out before their lease ends, the company will work find a replacement.

Common debuted its first building in Crown Heights in 2015 and now has a total of eight buildings across Brooklyn and Queens, in neighborhoods like Ridgewood, Boerum Hill, Williamsburg, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

The cost: Common’s cheapest building, on Albany Avenue in Crown Heights, offers rooms starting at $1,340/month. At its priciest building, on Baltic Street in Boerum Hill, rooms start at $2,143/month.

How to get in: Applying includes filling out a short form online, submitting to a background and a financial check, and an interview. And there’s plenty of interest; a Common rep says the company receives hundreds of membership applications per week. There are currently openings at Common Cornelia (Ridgewood), Common Herkimer (Crown Heights), and the Boerum Hill location.

WeLive Wall Street.
Courtesy WeLive

WeLive Wall Street

What it is: Developed by WeWork, this living situation takes the company’s co-working concept and applies it to apartment living. At its Lower Manhattan building, renters can live in anything from a studio to a four-bedroom apartment, each fully furnished with things like kitchen supplies, bed linens, TVs, and Wi-Fi. Residents share common spaces that include movie rooms, lounge areas, workout studios, and kitchens; WeLive also organizes events for residents within the building.

The cost: Private studios start at $3,050 a month, and four bedrooms (typically shared among roommates) start at $7,600 a month. Utilities are $125 a month, a flat rate per person. It include heat, hot water, gas, once-a-month cleaning, Wi-Fi and cable.

How to get in: Though the building is near capacity, WeLive Wall Street does accept new renters on a rolling basis. To apply, prospective tenants set up a tour through WeLive and fill out an application that includes credit and criminal background checks. You’ll pay a one month security deposit and work with the company to work out a lease, whether it be for a few months or a year.

Webster Apartments.
Christopher McBride/PropertyShark

Webster Apartments

What it is: Yep, women-only housing—the type immortalized in The Bell Jar, among other pop-culture depictions—is still alive and well in New York City. The Webster Apartments on Ninth Avenue have been around since 1923, with the goal of providing lodging for “unmarried working women regardless of their religious belief or nationality and wherein they find comfortable and attractive homes.”

The building has 375 dorm-style, single rooms furnished with furniture like a twin bed, dresser, desk, and in-room sink. Residents eat at communal tables (with two free meals offered a day) and share bathrooms and common areas throughout the building. They also have access to complimentary social and professional development events every month. (One possible deal breaker: men are allowed to hang out on the building’s first floor, but can’t go any higher than that.)

The cost: Residents pay a bi-weekly room and board rate that’s based on their income, and there’s an income cap of $85,000/year. For those whose salaries are between $30,000 and $85,000, rates range from $560 to $945.

How to get in: To apply for housing, prospective guests must meet the eligibility requirements, then contact the Admissions Department to request an application. The building is typically able to accommodate most applicants on their desired dates during non-peak times throughout the year. In summer, the building books quickly, with a waiting list for June and July check-in dates typically beginning in April. There’s a minimum stay of four weeks and a maximum stay of five years.