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  • A PodShare co-living building in Venice Beach, Calif. Dorm beds here go for about $1,400 per month.
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    A PodShare co-living building in Venice Beach, Calif. Dorm beds here go for about $1,400 per month.
    Courtesy PodShare
  • A shared kitchen in a PodShare co-living building in Venice Beach, Calif.
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    A shared kitchen in a PodShare co-living building in Venice Beach, Calif.
    Courtesy PodShare
Originally published on October 21, 2018 1:41 pm

The cost of housing is out of reach for many residents in cities like Los Angeles and Seattle. One solution is called "co-living" and it looks a lot like dorm life. Co-living projects are trying to fill a vacuum between low-income and luxury housing in expensive housing markets where people in the middle are left with few choices.

Nadya Hewitt lives in a building in Los Angeles run by a company called PodShare, where renters (or "members" in company lingo) occupy "pods." The grand tour of 33-year-old Hewitt's home takes place sitting on her bed as she points out the various things she keeps within arm's reach: a lamp, sunglasses, a water bottle, a jar of peanut butter.

The pods consist of a twin bed with a small flat screen TV in a communal bunk room, some immediate storage space and access to lockers. The kitchen, bathrooms, yard and other common areas are all shared. Members are also allowed to hop around to different PodShare locations as much as they want, as long as there's availability.

Prices vary slightly at different sites, but the PodShare where Hewitt's staying costs $1,400 a month. That might sound steep, but traditional apartments in the surrounding neighborhood of Venice Beach go for a lot more.

Without PodShare, Hewitt says she'd never be able to afford this area.

"Oh my gosh," she said, "I've looked at studio apartments in this area, in Hollywood, downtown. I mean we're looking at almost $2,000 a month."

Co-living trend

PodShare, which opened its fifth location in L.A. this year, is part of a growing trend. It's one of several companies operating so-called "co-living" buildings in the city. In these properties, tenants typically share kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms in exchange for cheaper rent. The co-living companies generally don't own the properties but partner with local developers to operate and manage them.

In Los Angeles, besides PodShare's projects, there are co-living buildings under construction in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and Venice Beach.

New co-living projects have also popped up in other cities where the cost of housing has risen in recent years, including New York, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.

Jon Dishotsky is the CEO of a co-living startup called StarCity, which already manages four buildings in San Francisco. The company's first building in Los Angeles is currently under construction in Venice Beach.

On a recent afternoon, Jon Dishotsky pushed open the door to the roof deck on the Venice Beach project and stepped outside. Lounge furniture was arranged around the roof, and the ocean was visible a block away.

"There's gonna be acoustic music going on here on a weekly basis," he said, and "Sunday suppers where everybody gathers."