The rent is too damn high, and not just in New York City. U.S. apartment rents rose 4.6% in 2015—faster than at any point since the financial crisis. It’s a market most Americans can’t afford to enter, even at the most basic level.
“A studio in New York City costs $2,500 per month—$3,000 for any new construction with a doorman and elevator in Manhattan,” explains Chris Bledsoe, founder of an all inclusive micro-living startup called Ollie. “And when landlords require tenants make 40 times their rent, what they’re saying is: There’s no place in the housing market for someone earning less than $100,000 a year.”
This has led to the creation of a grey market where apartments are shared, rented and divided before seeing a traditional listing. It’s a world where strangers live with strangers and temporary walls slice through living rooms—where more apartments are filled by Craigslist than by realtors.
“Ollie is the answer to that underground movement,” continues Bledsoe. “By deprioritizing space, we keep rent low. Then we factor in a plug-and-play experience wherewifi, cable and even cleaning services are built into the price. We’re like the halfway point between an apartment and a hotel.”
Ollie apartments may be 15% below market average, but the additional value and convenience is priceless. We caught up with Blesdoe at the Bloomberg micro-apartments in Midtown, which operate as part of the Ollie family.