It’s no secret that the average housing prices in Los Angeles are skyrocketing. Even if you’re working a good job and making a decent salary, the cost of living in LA can be daunting. Coliving is a new type of housing for young professionals in the city that offers community, sustainability and affordability.
Hi, my name is Samir Benmenni, and my name is Oleksiy Malytskyy – and we created Sota Coliving (www.gosota.com) – 1# co-living in Los Angeles for creative professionals.
What is coliving?
Samir: Coliving is one of the most recent ideas in the housing world. It’s the perfect solution for millennials who want to live with like-minded people. Not only does it satisfy a social need, it also satisfies an economic need for more affordable housing.
Oleksiy: We help people to discover accommodation in decent areas for the most reasonable price.To date, we have helped more than 350 tenants to find affordable housing and kickstart their way in LA.
How did you come up with this idea?
Samir: We moved to LA a few years ago, and faced a lot of problems in finding suitable housing.
It is well established that everyone comes to the city inspired by their dreams, ready to work hard, and open to new adventures. However, Los Angeles immediately greets them with a cold shower.
Finding an apartment in LA is not a task for the faint of heart. First of all, you have to choose a neighborhood that you can afford, after which you must then hunt for an apartment on various websites, find housing on a budget, pay an application fee, prepare your pay stub until after all that, you get declined anyway because of some unknown or unaccounted for reason and have to start all over again. Then once you have tried 10-20 times, finally, you got accepted: 1) pay two months’ deposit, 2) sign an annual lease, 3) sign gas, and water, 4) buy furniture and a mattress, 5) rent a truck to bring that stuff. Your total spending will be close to $5000(for 1 bedroom apartment in decent neighborhood)
As a result, the moving process can take up to a month, during which time you have not even been able to start looking for a job.
We decided to embark on a mission to change this.
WHAT is Sota?
Oleksiy: Sota is the name for a small cell where a bee lives. The idea is that we are a beehive, a collective, and it depends solely on us what the atmosphere in our home will be. Just like bees, we select only those people who are ready to work on their dreams and can actively contribute to the community.
We resolve five main issues for young people: 1) Affordable housing at a convenient location close to public transport. 2) An opportunity to be flexible – no long-term leases. 3) There is sports, sound, and photo equipment – so you can work towards your dreams 4), You save significant money on rent 5) And most importantly, we help you to find new friends and like-minded people.
Samir: Sota Coliving is founded on the concept that the environment that you are in, is the most valuable asset that allows you to achieve your goal.
How did COVID-19 influence co-living?
Samir: To give you a better idea of how hard this year was, 50% of companies that were in the co-living business in LA shut down their operations. Covid was the most difficult time not just in our lives, but globally. Before COVID hit, we had already attempted to expand aggressively – and right when COVID started, we had just signed a lease for a new location. We had to take measures to protect our tenants, so we kept our capacity at 50 percent at this time. We also improved our guidelines on cleaning; we cleaned surfaces in common areas with alcohol, we adopted online tours, and we installed sanitisers in common areas. At some locations, we even tested UV light to kill bacteria.
What people don’t understand about coliving
Oleksiy: Coliving is a unique place that helps you with resources.
Once you find a job to pay the bills, you want to work towards your dream. And that’s where you face the most challenges including new ones. For example, let’s say you want to launch a clothing brand. You first have to hire a programmer to build you a website, then you have to hire a designer, and you also have to rent a studio for a photoshoot – all before needing someone to run your ads on Facebook. It might take months to get everything set up. At Sota, you can find all those people in the kitchen and photo studio is included in the price. Sota provides much more than just housing.
What are the downsides?
Oleksiy: You must give up some comfort. We provide everything that you need to set up a great life. However, you will live with other people in a room with capsule beds, which, by the way, we put a lot of work into designing (the beds are equipped with shelves, lights, sockets, and USB chargers, as well as lockers.) That means all you have to sacrifice for the sake of your dream is having great roommates.
Who lives in a coliving space?
Samir: We have people from all walks of life here: musicians, actors, entrepreneurs, and students who are studying remotely. We have had people moving to LA to become actors and just living with us for a
few months to find new connections (they’re that good). It also happens that a person moves to save $1000 each month, and a year later she has enough money to open her own business. One time, we had famous movie stars from different countries staying with us. A famous musician from 2000 stayed with us for a couple of months.
Oleksiy: People can be very different, but they are united by their ambitions and big goals.
How can someone become a member of the Sota community?
Samir: The first step is to sign up for a virtual tour and talk with the manager. The manager is one who decides whether a tenant will be a good fit for a given location and whether he or she will get along with other residents. If you’d like the location and the manager thinks you are a great fit for us, you can simply fill out an application and within the next 48 hours you will be invited to move in with us.
Would you personally live in one of your locations?
Oleksiy: I stayed in Koreatown for 1 year. I made a lot of friends there. It was great fun for me, allowing me to better understand different cultures and significantly improve my English.
What would you advise people who come to LA to achieve their dreams?
Samir: The experience of Sota coliving allows you to build close bonds with others because you live in the same house. These bonds will stay with you for a long time. I am very happy when I see photos of people who are no longer living with us, who are still going for a beer or hiking and spending time together. This means that we have fulfilled our mission.
I advise you to stay in Sota coliving for 3-5 months, find friends, find a job, and choose the area where you want to live. Then, when the time is right, you can easily move to your own apartment.
I am sure that in 7-10 years, the people I met in Sota will be famous producers, actors, and entrepreneurs. This is a shoutout to everyone I met at Sota, I believe in you! You will succeed!