There was this article this weekend in the paper about these four dudes in New York. All close enough to 40 that we might as well just call them 40. They live together in a giant 2-story apartment in Astoria, Queens, and have lived together in various apartments since graduating college. In 1994. The house itself sounds like a coo place for four bachelors, with rooms that don’t share walls, 3 bathrooms, a garden and bunch of nerd gear (dvd collections, collectible toys, role playing games). And the guys don’t seem like weirdos. They all have jobs, artistic pursuits and their time as roommates has turned them into an extended family. And I can’t imagine I’m the only guy who would read that article and think, “Well, that sounds pretty good.”
When I moved out of my last communal apartment, a giant, crumbling old Victorian on the southwest edge of the Mission District, I figured that was the last time I would ever have roommates. Even if things didn’t work out with my girlfriend (who I was moving in with), I promised myself I wouldn’t ever again share a kitchen space or common space or bathroom with strangers. I would never again silently eat dinner in front of the TV while a person who was essentially an acquaintance watched America’s Next Top Model. I would never have to leave a passive aggressive note on the about my preference for people to NOT eat all of my salsa. And if a girl spent the night, I would never have to suggest that she might want to put on some shoes before going to the bathroom.
Lots of people are in a hurry to find another human to promise to spend the rest of their lives with and start a family and plant down permanent roots and I don’t begrudge them. I don’t. Seriously. But for the people who aren’t interested in that step-by-step road to old age, there isn’t a culturally-agreed upon road map and a lot them, I think, wind up alone. That’s why what these four guys have is appealing. They still have relationships (though some have ended when they refused to move out). They still have their own space, essentially a studio apartment within the confines of the larger house. And I assume they’re grown up enough to make the place feel nice. It’s (probably) not the slapdash collection of Goodwill furniture of early-20s communal apartments. And they probably have a monthly maid service, or are good about cleaning up after themselves. You know, like adults.
Basically, they took all the things that suck about communal living in a city (it’s gross, you’re not friends with your roommates, you hear your roommates having sex/masturbating, the common areas turn into clearing houses for sidewalk furniture, etc…) out of the equation. By doing that, they’ve had an ideal living situation for the last 18 years. You have to ask, why aren’t more people doing this? Also, you have to ask, are these guys still living together when they turn 50?
I don’t have the answers to either of those questions. But what I do have is a list of the ideal bro pad, that I would move into if me and my girlfriend ever break up:
- No more than 3 or 4 other bros (ladybros welcome).
- Private film screening room with enough comfortable seats for 10 people
- Rooftop access that’s big/safe enough for both parties and a garden (provided I don’t have to do any of the gardening).
- In a cool neighborhood, walking distance from at least two good bars and with public transit nearby.
- Big, well-appointed kitchen, cleaned on a regular basis (preferably not by me).
- Multiple common spaces, all with furniture that goes together and looks like it belongs in an architecture magazine. I’m assuming at least one of the roommates will be a furniture designer, so we’ll probably be able to get it all for free.
- Full bar, stocked with artisan alcohols.
- A guest room, so when people visit, they don’t have to stay on the couch.
- Basically, I just want to live in one of the Real World houses, minus the reality TV crews.
I don’t know how many architects/contractors/real estate developers read this blog (I presume its in the triple digits), but you probably want to take not of this emerging trend, and start building to it.
Henry Goldman is the founder of yr an adult and a dreamer.