With the ninth fastest-rising rents in the United States, is it only a matter of time before Charlotte sees co-living bunk bed rentals? It’s not as crazy as it sounds.
Like many other cities, Charlotte apartments have become more expensive.
The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte is now $1,150, according to a recent study by the Zillow Group. That’s up 4.8 percent from last year.
And with traffic congestion continuing to worsen, there’s a growing population willing to sacrifice privacy for a cheaper option that’s closer to Uptown.
Charlotte already has Community Room Rental, a growing company that has about a dozen houses where you can rent a single bedroom inside of a house with other strangers.
But a new — and even less private — option is popping up in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles.
PodShare, a startup pioneering membership housing, allows you to rent a bunk bed in a dorm-like community space where you get your own bed, TV and shelf for storage — everyone shares communal spaces like the bathroom and kitchen. You sacrifice privacy, but you get an affordable place to live in an urban location with no strings attached — there’s no security deposit or binding lease.
It may only be a matter of time before we see this type of housing option in Charlotte.
We talked to a few Charlotteans who have a hand in local development — and they say Charlotte is already trending toward more creative housing solutions.
“I think we are somewhat in this business already — several of our short-term rentals in the city are multi-unit/multi-family complexes, and a few of our townhomes can be rented by the bedroom,” said Edwin Davis of Rabbu, a startup that specializes in short-term rentals. “While that is a world away from these spaces in terms of privacy, it reveals a trend in the market that communal living (to varying degrees) is not only being seen as acceptable, but as expected as a means to make housing more affordable.”
Architect and multi-family housing developer David Furman says bunk beds might be a stretch, but the idea of renting a small private room in a dorm-like setting isn’t too far from what he’s doing now.
David has been pushing the envelope with creative housing solutions for decades, and his latest project includes building micro apartments as part of the new RailYard development in South End.
“I guess we’re the guys doing smaller apartments than anybody else,” he said. “Before 2008, we did condos when those were hot. My theory was young people wouldn’t mind trading square footage for location. We did 500-square-foot condos, and they were selling out as soon as they were listed. What we were doing then is similar to what we’re doing now.”
David’s goal is to keep pushing the price point down so people can afford to live in places like the RailYard in South End with an upscale gym going in, restaurants spilling out into a beautifully landscaped courtyard and other urban amenities.
“I think days of people wanting a salt water pool and wine lockers are past,” David told us. “The next step is co-living — we need to blur the lines between hotels and apartments, because in a hotel you don’t need a security deposit, you don’t need to turn utilities on. ”
David also sees a connection between co-living and coworking, which is such a hot concept in Charlotte right now — and Garrett Tichy, the owner and founder of Hygge Coworking, has thought about it, too.
“We’ve already dabbled in exploring through partnerships how this could play a role in Hygge’s expansion,” Garrett told the Agenda. “Housing in Charlotte comes with a lot of red tape, and the timeline to execution doesn’t fit well into our growth strategy.”
And even though Hygge won’t be renting out bunk beds any time soon, Garrett sees value in the whole co-living concept.
“There’s no middle ground right now. Housing, and the rental market, is incredibly expensive. This will kill if they can communicate the value properly.”