I’ve been involved in the sharing economy since 2007 when I first joined Zipcar in college. Initially, my participation was born of financial necessity, but over the years it became a lifestyle that I embraced as a student loan-burdened yuppie. Since then I've used RelayRides to supplement my transportation, Airbnb to make some extra cash for my empty room, TaskRabbit to get stuff done, Spinlister to find bikes in new cities, and more. My newest sharing adventure, cohousing, started out of necessity as well.
Escaping the City
A few months ago I quit my steady-income-yet-stuffy-cubicle job and embarked on the pursuit of two startup opportunities in the outdoor industry (Alpine Hammock and GearCommons). With four to six months of cash in hand, I knew that I couldn’t afford both office space and high urban rent. I also didn't want to become that hipster on his macbook mooching wifi from the local coffee shop, or that freelancer who never leaves his apartment, so I decided I’d move away from the bourgeois Back Bay Boston and find ways to crush on my startups.
After a few hours of cruising Craigslist for short-term sublets, it looked like my life would be resigned to rooming in a sketchy sublet, probably with random grad students near Boston. Then in the final hours, I came across an interesting place called CrashPad. CrashPads, which started in Boston, are flexible, shared living spaces where entrepreneurial folks can live together, share resources, and help each other get connected to opportunities. That’s when the light bulb turned on above my head: “Cohousing with entrepreneurs? Sounds like a solid opportunity!”
An Entrepreneurial Commune
After an online application, a multi-stage interview process, and me selling almost everything that I owned, I moved into one of the three CrashPad locations in the Boston area. Without a car, furniture, or any unnecessary "things" I am more mobile and ready to jump on opportunity than ever before.
What attracted me most to the CrashPad community was their mission to support and create opportunities for entrepreneurs. They help you avoid that sketchy sublet and bring you into a place of opportunity for your business. Every Thursday they have events called Taste of Entrepreneurship (#tasteofeship) where movers and shakers from the Boston scene come to your living space and drop knowledge. On Sunday nights they have communal dinners with the same theme of getting you connected within the Boston startup scene.
In addition to connecting you to the Boston startup scene, the apartments come fully furnished with furniture, bedding, kitchenware, and even unlimited coffee. As a newbie entrepreneur, all I really need to survive is mentoring, a place to sleep, and a steady influx of caffeine. CrashPad sounded like a no-brainer so I decided to go all-in for the next three months and join this entrepreneurial commune.
After moving in at CrashPad I decided to do a little research on other cohousing opportunities throughout the country. To start, there are some great articles on cohousing right here on Shareable. Additionally, I’d suggest looking through the Cohousing Association of the United States website because it is loaded with resources on everything from communal organic farming, to finding playmates for your kids, and even to starting your own cohousing community. Look up your state and see what’s available near you.
Cohousing with Entrepreneurs in Boston
The Boston startup scene is amazingly supportive so I’m excited to be a part of the CrashPad community. I don’t know what the end result will look like yet but I know that I’ll be spending my time with passionate, hardworking, sharing-enthusiasts. To me, that seems like time well spent. To give everyone a glimpse into what it’s like to live in a cohousing community, I’ll continue to write about my experience over the next three months. If you live in a cohousing community and have comments/suggestions I’d love to hear them. Email me. Share on.