“For everyone who’s had that experience of coming to a new place, often it’s really exciting and there’s a lot of discovery, which is cool, but you might live a relatively spartan lifestyle for a while while you’re sort of putting it all together,” said Miguel McKelvey, the WeWork co-founder, who said he sat on 300 chairs to find just the right furnishings.
WeLive is designed around flexibility — residents live month to month rather than signing a one-year lease. There’s no need to wait for the cable guy to hook up one’s TV or Internet service. And no one has to shop for a bed, couch or table. Residents need to arrive with little more than their clothes. A security deposit is required, but credit checks aren’t done.
A private studio in Crystal City starts at $1,640 a month, and a studio with two beds starts at $1,880. There are also one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments. A four-bedroom goes for $4,220 a month. Residents pay a $125 monthly fee that covers utilities, cable and Internet. The New York apartments are more expensive, with private units starting at $2,550.
In Crystal City, outside Washington, nine floors of an old office building were converted into WeLive apartments. The space is divided into three “neighborhoods,” three-floor clusters of apartments that share common areas. The thinking is that residents will naturally self-identify and organize near people with similar hours, hobbies and lifestyles. Just in case, the apartments have unusually heavy doors, a reminder of the sound-proofing WeLive has done.
WeLive wants to encourage positive social interactions so that its neighborhoods develop into strong communities. None of the common spaces include dead ends, to avoid the awkward feeling a person may have of entering a shared area only to turn around and exit the same way they came. Without dead ends, residents can walk in and out different ways, so it appears that they’re only passing through.
“We want you to be able to look at what’s going on and see if you know someone. If you didn’t see anyone through that whole path you could cycle back down to your room and no one would know you’re out of place if you didn’t find that place to sit down,” McKelvey said.
WeLive also has its own app that residents can use to text the entire community to set up social events or borrow food or things from one another.
Stephanie Sutton, 31, moved into WeLive’s Crystal City location a month ago. WeLive has brought in some residents early as part of a test period. Sutton said her favorite aspect has been the sense of community.
“It really does feel like home,” she said. “It’s a great way to develop friendships without any pressure. Here you passively make 10 friends instantly.”
So far she has roasted a rabbit from a farmer’s market and shared it with neighbors. The four-bedroom apartment she splits with three others has a full kitchen, but she opted to cook in the neighborhood’s shared kitchen because of the high-grade appliances and social aspect. Residents have also gotten together to watch the National Hockey League playoffs and “Game of Thrones.”
Sutton never considered living in Crystal City before, but heard about WeLive through her employer, which is located within walking distance. She said she hasn’t used her car since moving into WeLive. Sutton is living with three roommates she hadn’t met before. Residents can live alone, bring their own roommates or work with WeLive to find a roommate.
Although WeLive appears best designed for people in their 20s and 30s, all age ranges are welcome.
Angela Fox, 48, moved into the Crystal City location with her 12-year-old son, who can walk to his middle school. Fox, the president of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, considers herself more experience-oriented than possession-focused. When her son saw the gaming options at WeLive — including a foosball table in the laundry area — he was hooked. That was enough for Fox. She put her furniture in storage and moved into WeLive earlier this year.
For McKelvey, the point of the WeLive community is helping people succeed.
“It could be that success for them is finding the right job, it could be finding the right friends, it could be building a family,” he said. “Whatever it is, it’s more having the conscious pursuit of a life they want rather than sort of floating along and not really concerning themselves with what their future holds.”