Despite Charlotte being such a young-feeling, millennial-driven, social city filled with breweries and yoga classes, it feels like it’s genuinely hard to make friends outside of work or Tinder if you didn’t go to high school here or move to the city with a college friend.
And what’s the point of going to a brewery or a yoga class if it’s not with friends?
Sometimes, despite promising after my freshman year of college that I’d never share a bedroom with another person so long as I live (I switched to private rooms for the last three years), I miss living in a dorm.
Dorms made it easy — and unavoidable — when it came to making friends. They also made it possible to have privacy behind a closed door but more people than I could count to interact with when the door was open, which let me rest assured I could be alone without ever feeling lonely.
It seems that’s a privilege that I left behind when I graduated last year. I’ve heard the same sentiments echoed by the friends I’ve made in the city; that it’s hard to make friends, even if the people in your apartment building are around your age and that more often than not, people are relying on their significant others or the significant others of their roommates for a social life. But as one of my friends learned the hard way, if those relationships fizzle, you’re left with nothing.
“We realized that, aside from A’s friends, we knew no one here,” he told me. “We were lonely.”
Of course, there’s always throwing your own hat in the dating ring, but as a female friend told me, “I’ve met a lot of people through Tinder, but as soon as those dates are over, those social circles sort of disappear. But sometimes I just want girlfriends. I don’t always want to hang out with men.”
All across the country, recent college graduates and people all the way up to their mid- to late-twenties are feeling this way, but a guy by the name of Troy Evans figured out how to hack the system and beat it in Syracuse, New York, with the creation of Commonspace.
In a nutshell, it’s built to bring together millennials that are new (or not) to the city and looking for friends in a space that feels like a genuine community. With 21 tiny apartments, each with their own bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom, the space gives residents that feeling of being alone rather than lonely that’s so cherished in dorms.
It goes so far as to include a chef’s kitchen, game room and TV room in the spaces that are shared, which feels eerily similar to the dorm I lived in the last three years of college (minus the chef).
But it’s not just about living together and only hanging out when you’re at home; it’s about being friends outside of Commonspace. It’s fostered by things like Slack channels, Facebook pages and social events such as rooftop dinners and pub crawls put together by social engineers.
Charlotte’s also expensive to live in. In September 2015, the average Uptown apartment rent was was just over $1,700. No, that’s not the only place recent transplants are looking to go, but it does seem as though that’s where the cool kids hang out. Places like Commonspace acknowledge that, too.
Co-living spaces, more often than not, come furnished and include all utilities and WiFi. Some rents are based on what the tenant is able to pay while others are set. Commonspace’s rent, for instance, varies between $600 and $900 per month. In this New York City space, rents are based on what a tenant can pay, but are between $700 and $1,200 per month. And in San Diego, where a professor noticed the issue and built a dorm for graduates, students and professors from the local college, spaces go for around the same price.
I never thought I’d say this, but maybe adult dorms are the way to go in a big(ish) city. It works in Syracuse and San Diego. Why not Charlotte?