Dorm Living for Professionals Comes to San Francisco
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2018 07:56:00 -0800 (PST)
Long article in NYTimes with multiple photos of new dorms for professionals. 
Like downsized cohousing in which everyone has a room and shares bathrooms, 
living areas, and kitchen. Rents are huge in SF but this arrangement would be 
cost less in other places. Personally, I would give it a try just for the 
building manager and services such as laundry and cleaning. For Senior 
cohousing and single parents, this would be ideal. Shared services would be 
caregivers and errand runners. Childcare and transportation to school and after 
school activities like homework supervision. These buildings have things like a 
1200 SF living room and kitchens with multiple refrigerators.

On the hard part, shared bathrooms, the author makes a point: because rents are 
not affordable. people are squeezing into apartments with roommates — sharing 
bathrooms, kitchens, and living areas anyway.

Excerpts to entice you to read the article:

In search of reasonable rent, the middle-class backbone of San Francisco — 
maitre d’s, teachers, bookstore managers, lounge musicians, copywriters and 
merchandise planners — are engaging in an unusual experiment in communal 
living: They are moving into dorms.

Starcity has already opened three properties with 36 units. It has nine more in 
development and a wait list of 8,000 people. The company is buying a dozen more 
buildings (including one-star hotels, parking garages, office buildings and old 
retail stores), has raised $18.9 million in venture capital and hired a team of 
26 people. Starcity said it was on track to have hundreds of units open around 
the San Francisco Bay Area this year, and thousands by 2019.

Instead, Starcity residents get a bedroom of 130 square feet to 220 square 
feet. Many of the buildings will feature some units with a private bath for a 
higher rent. But Jon Dishotsky, Starcity’s co-founder and chief executive, said 
a ratio of one bathroom for every two to three bedrooms makes the most sense 
for large-scale affordability. The average one-bedroom apartment in San 
Francisco rents for $3,300 a month, but Starcity rooms go for $1,400 to $2,400 
a month fully furnished, with utilities and Wi-Fi included.

Starcity’s target demographic makes $40,000 to $90,000 a year. Most of the 
residents, who range in age from their early 20s to early 50s,

The Starcity community manager (a.k.a. the building manager) is extremely 
involved in household affairs, dropping off care packages when someone is sick 
and organizing birthday parties. If tenants sign up for premium services, 
Starcity will do their laundry for $40 a month, clean rooms for $130 a week and 
even arrange for dog day care. For many residents, the arrangement does not 
feel temporary.

“I never thought I could live like this,” Ms. Shiver said. “But the more I live 
here, the freer I feel.”

She said she had not locked her bedroom door once since moving in, and most 
days when she gets home from work, a roommate has taken her dog into the shared 
living room. She said she hardly thought about the dorm-style bathroom setup, 
that there had never been a line for a shower, and that the building was like a 

A couple blocks away was the Ellis Street building, a former bathhouse turned 
into medical offices that became a vacant property. Another developer had tried 
to turn it into 11 luxury condos. Mr. Dishotsky’s pitch was 52 dorm rooms.

Each floor has a communal kitchen for eight to 15 people. He’s working with his 
co-founder, Mohammad Sakrani, 30, on new beds that can be hoisted up and 
suspended from the ceiling during the day. They are also trying to design 
modular bathrooms and even entire bedrooms that can be “plugged in” to 

Migerta Ndrepepaj, 25, the headwaiter at the Nob Hill Club at the 
Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, said her favorite tradition was Sunday 
family days when the housemates cook together and go on adventures like renting 

Every other Wednesday is “wine night.” An upcoming Tuesday is “kombucha and 
yoga night.” On Feb. 14, it was “pal-entines day,” planned and hosted by 

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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