Sharing a Room in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Making New Friends


Though Craigslist and Facebook have been the go-to places to find a room share for years, Kira Hooks, a 26-year-old musician who moved to the city from Nashville this August, quickly ruled out them out.

“Broker fees are crazy here and all the qualifications you have to go through are really hard,” said Ms. Hooks, who was also conducting her housing search remotely from Tennessee and had to rely on FaceTime to meet people and tour spaces.

Instead, she opted for a co-living apartment in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, run by Outpost Club, a company that has 17 locations in New York and — crucially — shared bedrooms that brought the cost of co-living into an affordable range for her. Ms. Hooks pays $1,090 a month for her room, on top of a one-time membership fee of $690.

Co-living, wherein vetted tenants rent space in all-inclusive furnished apartments in co-living “houses” or apartment buildings, has become increasingly popular in recent years, due in part to the difficulty many newcomers have in navigating the city’s complicated rental market. But as the rent for a room with everything from internet to basic cooking supplies and weekly housekeeping bundled in can be steep, some co-living purveyors have started offering shared dorm-style rooms with twin beds. Outpost Club even offers triples in some of its locations.

$1,090 | Bedford-Stuyvesant

Occupation: Musician. She also teaches at the School of Rock in the Whitestone section of Queens and does social media work for Food For All, an app that aims to reduce food waste.
What her rent includes: Wi-Fi, furniture, olive oil, coffee, cups, hair dryers and paper towels, among other basics; Ms. Hooks also paid a one-time membership fee of $690.
How big the “house” is: 17 bedrooms spread across six apartments.
The guest policy: Residents can have guests between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. and out-of-town guests can stay free of charge for up to a week each month in open beds in other apartments. Overnight guests require at least a week’s notice. There is no couch crashing.
Her decorative touches: A string of Christmas lights and some New York-themed throw pillows. She hopes to keep things minimal in her next apartment, too. “I think in New York, the more stuff that requires maintenance, the less convenient it is. I want to make sure it’s just enough to make it feel like home.”


“I had been looking at communal living options,” said Ms. Hooks, who is a singer and songwriter and also teaches at School of Rock in the Whitestone section of Queens and does social media work for Food For All, an app that aims to reduce food waste. “I thought it would be nice to have a sense of community.”

“I also wanted something pretty decent, clean. I love the fact that a cleaner comes once a week here,” she added. “And transitional. My partner is moving to New York from Nashville in January, at which point we’ll start looking for a place with other friends.” (Ms. Hooks’s boyfriend and her other friends are also musicians.)

As for sharing a bedroom with a stranger? “It was nerve wracking for sure,” she admitted. “I was worried: I am a musician. What if I come home late? Is everyone going to be O.K. with that? But I’m pretty good with people in general — it takes a lot for me to get riled up — and every roommate I’ve had has been wonderful.”

Since moving into a three-bedroom apartment this August, Ms. Hooks has had three bedroom-mates. One of the appeals of co-living is flexible lease terms that can be as short as 30 days. The downside, at least for those who like their roommates, is high turnover. Her most recent roommate, a Brazilian event planner here for three months to practice her English and take a bartending class, arrived this November.

In addition to Ms. Hooks’ shared bedroom, the apartment also has two single rooms — which rent for about $1,700 each, depending on length of stay and level of membership — and each bedroom has an en-suite bath. One of the occupants, Kari Lebby, a 29-year-old South Carolinian who moved to New York to attend a program for directing at the New School this summer, is, like Ms. Hooks, a longer-term fixture, having lived there since August, but is planning to start looking for a studio or one-bedroom at the end of the fall semester.

Anthony Nickele, a 26-year-old traveling nurse, occupies the other room. He’s lived in the apartment since November, when a pipe burst in his bedroom upstairs, forcing him to switch rooms.

“I didn’t mind moving down because everyone in the apartment was kind of familiar,” said Mr. Nickele, who came to New York in September and is leaving this January to take a different assignment in California. “It’s a little transient, but I needed someplace flexible and it’s a good space. You know it’s clean. Probably the best thing is that making friends is so effortless.”

Gracila Coutinho, the Brazilian housemate, said that initially, she’d looked for a sublet on Craigslist and Facebook, but had trouble finding situations where chatting with roommates would be welcome. “Everyone was like, ‘I work a lot and when I come home I don’t want to talk to anyone. We don’t drink wine together, we don’t do Thanksgiving together.’ ”

Ms. Hooks was born in Houston, but her father’s work — he was in oil — took the family to the Netherlands, Scotland, China and a number of other countries.

She attended college in Los Angeles before moving to Nashville. New York, she said, felt very much like home, filled with people from all over the world forging connections.

“I always wanted to come to New York,” said Ms. Hooks, who describes her music as a mix of soul and jazz. “For a musician, it was the last in the trifecta.”

In January, Ms. Hooks said she hopes to find a cheaper apartment nearby that can double as a practice space for four musicians. “I’m in a phase of my life where I like the feeling of making a home and I want to be in New York for a longer time,” she said.

But though six months may be a relatively brief stay, Ms. Hooks, like her housemates, said she appreciated the comfortable, companionable atmosphere that co-living provided. Adjusting to life in New York can be challenge, and it’s nice to be surrounded by a bunch of other people who are also figuring out the M.T.A, discovering the delights of late-night bodega food and learning where to buy basics like tissues without spending a fortune. “There’s this camaraderie of ‘This is such a crazy town,’ ” said Ms. Hooks.

“In the beginning New York felt really lonely,” she added. “But it helps that we’re all going through this first little bit of transitioning into New York from slower-paced lives.”



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