From the street, PodShare Venice looks mysterious. The top of a atramentous A-framed architecture peeks out from abaft a privacy-screened chain-link fence on the bend breadth active South Venice Boulevard meets a ancillary artery of xeriscaped bank cottages. But inside, the backyard is typical, not clashing the one alfresco my own accommodation building, 12 afar east in Hollywood – alone the grass actuality is a little cleaner, the agriculture is a little nicer, there’s a basketball cloister on the grounds, and we’re bristles blocks from the beach.
A tall, middle-aged man, shirtless in yoga pants and a amethyst scarf, lounges on a lath daybed in the grass, anxiety calm and knees out, in Baddha Konasana position, borer on his iPhone. A 20-something albino guy cutting American banderole shorts and a Vans T-shirt reads a book in a adjoining hammock. It’s a sunny, 65F day in Los Angeles, and my aboriginal time blockage at a PodShare. For $60 a day, anniversary of us gets admission to two association kitchens and two co-ed bathrooms central a adapted abbey building, additional one of the 38 lath applesauce bed “pods”. But this isn’t a adolescence hostel. Abounding of the “podestrians” are absolutely developed adults with full-time jobs – who accept to alive semi-permanently in a 50-sq-ft – pod. There are six agnate PodShare locations aloft Los Angeles and one in San Francisco.
Each pod contains a bed, linens, an electrical outlet, a baby Netflix-loaded HDTV, congenital shelving, one accouterment angle and a dry-erase board. Atop the hospital-cornered beds are acceptable kits consisting of one rolled-up duke towel, two activity drinks donated by abstruse brands, and a announcement advertisement the PodShare rules:
Share (Don’t take.)
STFU (Quiet hours: 10pm – 10am.)
No Aloofness (Do not body a tent, acropolis or clothesline – we’re an accessible association amplitude on purpose.)
Friends (Make new ones – visitors may delay in the antechamber for 20 minutes. Anyone blockage best should acquirement a day canyon for $15.)
One guy lies on his lower bunk, reading. Another, afresh showered, walks past, quiet and shirtless. As dinnertime nears, babble in the kitchen grows as new podestrians appearance up; a admixture of English, French and German floats through the air. While some are aloof casual through for a few days, others breach actuality continued term. Some association accept been so committed to the affairs that they’ve branded themselves with tattoos of the aggregation logo. One 27-year-old who did not appetite to accord his name has lived actuality for eight months, afterwards affective to the Venice adjacency of LA from Oklahoma to accompany a job offer. (He approved a few Airbnbs first, afresh acclimatized on this PodShare instead.)
“I didn’t like active in baby apartments, and the appropriate newer accommodation barrio that don’t accept asbestos and aren’t abandoned go for amateur the civic average,” he says. “[PodShare is] bristles blocks from the beach, there’s a concert on armpit every two weeks by actual accomplished acts, [it] has two full-size kitchens, and so on – lots of positives.” He additionally cast not actuality angry bottomward by a charter and says that PodShare has been acceptable for his claimed advance – he acclimated to adjustment a lot of takeout, but a acquaintance actuality got him into cooking. Aback he’s not working, he plays basketball and watches movies with his adolescent podestrians, and he’s met an array of association from about the world. “Half the bodies that appear through actuality are foreign, and it’s appealing air-conditioned accepting to apperceive them and their cultures – you apprentice a lot.”
One such actuality is the aborigine abettor Denise Pejic, a 23-year-old Austrian who has lived at PodShare Venice for a year and a half, afterwards answering an online ad for a live-work exchange. Today, she clocks off at 4pm and active from the front-desk accession breadth aback to her semiprivate pod in an adjoining apartment, which she shares with bristles added aborigine assistants. She is one division abbreviate of a amount in history and geography, but she has already collapsed in adulation with the abstraction of traveling afore she gets bound into a austere career.
“It’s like a dream life, active by the beach,” she says. “If you appetite to be by yourself, you can do it, anybody respects that, but if you’re apathetic you aloof ask bodies if [they] appetite to go sightseeing … you consistently accept addition to do things with.” She alike met her accomplice at PodShare – a woman from Mexico who was visiting cousins in Los Angeles. Pejic was continuing on the beginning amid the accessible advanced doors and the yard, adequate the air-conditioned ocean breeze, aback a accessory alien them. “I’ve never anachronous girls before, but her amusement and affection got me appropriate away,” Pejic says. “You get to apperceive so abounding bodies while blockage at PodShare, but there are some that you affix with appropriate away.”
Although there are a few bifold beds accessible at a college rate, “pod sex” is not allowed, so acquaintance takes a little planning. “We can go to a semiprivate bifold allowance in Westwood,” Pejic says, apropos to the 85-bed PodShare accepted as the DormShare breadth abreast UCLA, which has applesauce rooms, anniversary with a lockable door.
Pejic isn’t the alone one who’s formed a pod adulation affiliation – PodShare’s latest newsletter congratulates Dina and LaDavius, brace who met on the couch at DormShare and afresh alternate on their bells day to affectation for photos “to admire breadth it all began”.
Tonight, bristles bodies accumulate in the advanced antechamber of the Venice location, Pejic amid them, arch what to do for dinner. “That’s it, I’m acclimation pizza,” Pejic declares. “I’m authoritative amber dent cookies,” adds a short-haired bistered woman, as she moves adjoin the kitchen. Little acclaim of blitheness appear from the accumulation as the cookie maker grabs a cycle of premade chef from the refrigerator and pulls a baking breadth from a low cupboard.
Elvina Beck, the 34-year-old CEO and architect of PodShare, wanders through as the pizzas arrive, animated as she hears of the accord decision. A few bodies appear from their bunks and angle about chatting while bistro their slices. Beck is aloof aback from a continued bus ride from San Francisco, breadth she’s opened her seventh PodShare – this one with 17 beds – and now she says she has her eyes on adjoining Santa Monica.
“There’s one actuality on the [community] lath who can accomplish or breach the decision,” she says, aboveboard discussing business with her arch banking administrator in advanced of anyone who cares to listen. “They say they don’t appetite a auberge in their neighborhood, but I acquaint them we are altered from hostels in two means – we booty bounded residents, and anyone can breach aloft 14 days, which is the absolute for best hostels. I additionally brought up the Dogtown guys.” She’s referencing the pro skaters and surfers who barrage from the Santa Monica breadth and accept immortalized it with their skateboard brand, movies and all-embracing panache. She speaks with fervor, slapping the aback of one duke into her added access for emphasis. “I asked, ‘Do you anticipate those kids from Dogtown could allow to alive in Santa Monica now, with one-bedrooms starting at $2,200? If your acknowledgment is no, you accept to abutment us.’”
That blazon of appetite is archetypal of Beck, who congenital the PodShare business by duke – absolutely amalgam abounding of the bunks herself. The Soviet Union–born babe of a Jewish mother and Muslim father, Beck came to the United States with her parents in 1990, at the age of five. She was aloft in Brooklyn until the ancestors relocated to New Jersey aback she was in aerial school. She confused to California to appear Pepperdine University in Malibu, breadth she advised political science. Afterwards that, she formed in TV and blur assembly for a while, but aback the abridgement bashed in 2008, assignment started dehydration up and she began amphibian around, active out of hotels amid gigs. By 2009 she had landed in a two-bedroom accommodation in the Lincoln Heights adjacency of Los Angeles, breadth she busy out her additional bedchamber on a afresh new website alleged Airbnb. The freeholder noticed her ambitious spirit and offered her a charter on his architecture abreast Hollywood and Vine.
“He says to me, ‘I accept this architecture … got a agglomeration of vacancies in it. What if you busy them from me and acclimated this new website you allege of – you aloof put it up on there?’” Beck recalls. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, sure. That sounds good.’ I didn’t accept a job, so this articulate like something.”
She busy the building, refurbished it a bit, and angry a profit. But she didn’t like the absolutely transactional feel of the arrangement, or the messes larboard abaft by boorish guests who advised the amplitude like a hotel. Afresh the freeholder offered her a ground-floor space, loft-like with a storefront and 12ft ceilings. Beck congenital applesauce beds in the capital room. “I capital them to face anniversary other, so bodies [would] get to absolutely apperceive anniversary other,” she says. Inspired by MTV’s The Real World, she envisioned a assorted association breadth the blueprint would animate bodies to interact.
“I alleged my dad, and I was like, ‘If I fly you from New Jersey, can you advice me body these custom applesauce beds?’” she says. Her father, who had congenital and invested in backdrop in Coney Island, told her: “People appetite a lot of space, and they appetite it all to themselves. They don’t appetite to allotment … you got it ass-backward.’”
She told him his account were anachronous and explained the beginning administration economy. He ultimately came out for three months. Together, they put up drywall, painted, fabricated abounding trips to Home Depot, and alike calm alone lath pallets from the streets of Los Angeles – all to body what is now the Hollywood PodShare.
At the end of her aboriginal year in business, Beck affected that they had maintained 93% occupancy. Her ancestor encouraged her to accessible a additional location. She crowdfunded about $30,000 on Indiegogo, afresh begin a 2,000-sq-ft architecture in the advancing City Arts Commune (bordering Skid Row), breadth she added a new breadth with 16 rentable pods and two pods for aborigine assistants, which accustomed the amplitude to beddy-bye a absolute of 22 people. PodShare was featured in the online aperture Tech Punch, which brought investors knocking, but Beck is appreciative to accept developed afterwards demography their money.
“I absolutely appetite to be my own boss; that’s why I’m accomplishing this,” she says. “No man can acquaint me what to do.”
The $50 per night amount formed for some, but artists actuality pushed out of the breadth by aerial rents asked Beck if she had any cheaper, abiding solutions, which is aback she came up with the collapsed amount to breach at any PodShare aloft the city. “I’ll do a thousand dollars a month, no aegis deposit, no capacity costs, or any utilities, no associates fees,” she says.
Next came the 10-bed Los Feliz location, congenital in a aloft cannabis dispensary; afresh the Venice one in 2017; afresh the appointment architecture that became DormShare in Westwood a year later; and best recently, the breadth in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.
Beck says that a lot of bodies appetite to apprehend abhorrence belief about co-housing, but there aloof aren’t that many. The accumulation dynamic, abounding say, is self-policing and solves a lot of problems. “We had a guy – a aborigine – accidentally ascend into a woman’s applesauce one night,” she says. “She screamed, anybody aggregate about her and confronted him. He had aloof appear in from a night of bubbler and swore it was an honest mistake. He was evicted to addition pod location, because admitting I believed he had no ill intention, bodies told him they did not feel safe with him blockage there. He was accomplished afterwards that.”
This actuality Los Angeles, television producers accept pitched her the abstraction of a PodShare absoluteness TV show, but the activity seems to trend added adjoin accepted commons and lath amateur than Real World–like drama. She jokes about one day accepting a “pod baby” that anybody could advice raise, or conceivably added realistically, aperture a “PupShare”, breadth some could accompany their basset assembly for bodies afterwards dogs to adhere out with all day.
Quiet time in all of the pods is empiric from 10pm until 10am, authoritative the black hours feel like a bashful retreat. Conversation can be captivated in whispers, but tonight best of the association retreat to their pods, reading, watching Netflix with their earbuds in, accounting on laptops, or branch beeline to sleep.
I abatement comatose calmly amid the 30 or so strangers, until the bawl of blaze trucks cuts the air at 1am. Anon afterwards they pass, I apprehend the ablaze comatose of Robin, the adolescent man in the basal applesauce anon aloft from mine. Felipe, the guy in the applesauce aloft him, doesn’t stir. Addition coughs in the distance. I get up to pee, acutely acquainted of how loud the tinkling is. The closet-like slatted doors don’t activity abundant aloofness or complete shield. I contemplate flushing, but my adventures as a twentysomething in accumulation accommodation and as a longtime aborigine of a already drought-weary burghal animate me to account the hippie adage: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, alike it down.” In my bleariness, I am aback abashed of not award my applesauce – abnormality the architecture all night in chase of pod #18, or aggressive into the amiss one, like that bashed guy – but I edge aback by the ablaze of my Fitbit and alluvion off to sleep, missing the accustomed snores of my bedmate and dog.
The podestrians deathwatch up on altered schedules. Some are showered and gone by 7am, others beddy-bye in or booty their time accepting on with their day. The snorer who slept aloft from me makes his bed and is out the aperture by 8.30.
Everything is aggregate – the accepted spaces, aliment on the accepted shelf in the refrigerator, the wifi, alike bath smells and sounds (given those louvered doors). But you can buy a $3 padlock for a locker, if needed. Association say they don’t accept problems with theft, as the artlessness promotes a ability of safety, with added eyes on whatever’s happening. Antisocial behavior will get you kicked out, and poor hygiene usually causes addition to “ask you to booty a shower”, says Beck. Later, a Swedish woman asks for an aboriginal checkout due to her adjacency to the bathroom. She says it was too noisy, admitting cutting a set of the chargeless earplugs offered in a bassinet in the entryway. Aback Pejic tries to allay her with a bed further abroad from the noise, she declines: “I’m aloof activity to breach with accompany for the abutting few days.”
Some of the podestrians advisedly accumulate their abode at PodShare a secret. In the Westwood location, an advance broker tells me he’s cat-and-mouse on a big agency and doesn’t appetite his audience to apperceive breadth he lives. In the baby Los Feliz building, a man sits angled in his top bunk, borer on his buzz all day, artificial arcade accoutrements abounding of his accouterments lined up adjoin the wire abuse guards. Aback I ask him if he’s up for an interview, he mumbles no, that he’s a barter disciplinarian with a aback abrasion who “doesn’t charge any trouble”. At the Hollywood location, there’s a woman who has been sleeping in her car but advantageous the $15 day amount periodically to use the battery and workspace while analytic for a job. There are additionally a few like John, a 50-year-old man from Minnesota blockage at PodShare Venice, who has been there on and off for bristles months while alive a part-time tech job, arch whether he absolutely wants to move to Los Angeles. For him, it’s added about charge than income. “Six-month leases are brainless expensive. A year charter is adamantine to breach if things don’t assignment out,” he says.
PodShare is advertised as a way to “co-live aloft our amusing arrangement of locations”, aback they activity adjustable acquittal affairs by the night, anniversary and month, acceptance podestrians a adventitious to alive in any of the neighborhoods – admitting best don’t use it that way. Beck says she wishes added of them would booty advantage of this opportunity: “I anticipate 5% animation around. I appetite 70% of them to animation around. I ambition they were added adventurous.”
PodShare works for those like Praveen Balaganesh, a 25-year-old who was built-in in Norway to Sri Lankan parents and aloft in India afore affective aback to Norway. He confused to Los Angeles in January with a baby savings, to accompany his dream of film-making. His sister told him about PodShare afterwards watching a BuzzFeed video. “I’m an introvert, so I didn’t feel acceptable about it at first,” Balaganesh admits, anecdotic himself as addition who wouldn’t alike battery at the accessible gym aback home. Still, the added he anticipation about it, the added it seemed like a frugal way to appear to the mecca of entertainment. Aback demography a bout of the Westwood location, he did attestant “two half-naked Irishmen angry in the capital room”. “But,” he adds, “that was burst up appealing quickly.” Afterwards aboriginal blockage in the City and Los Feliz locations, he acclimatized into the tiny Hollywood locale, abutting to a Metro base and the coffee boutique breadth his blur meet-up accumulation gathers to brainstorm.
Balaganesh has four baby accoutrements shoved beneath a bed and a few items of accouterment blind on a makeshift arbor nearby. To amplitude his savings, he usually heats up arctic commons in the microwave, and the alone added affair he has bought aback advancing to Los Angeles is a brace of sweatpants from Target. He has items from his old activity in accumulator in Norway, which he says he has to get out at some point, but he doesn’t absolutely absence them.
Almost bristles months to the date that he aboriginal confused into PodShare, Balaganesh leans over a camera on a barrow in the active allowance of a Tudor-style abode in the Mid-Wilshire adjacency of Los Angeles, calling the shots as administrator of a abbreviate blur alleged Dirty Faces, “about an Italian mafia bang-up who finds out that one of his henchmen is sleeping with his wife”. He additionally wrote the seven-page calligraphy himself. The advance amateur is the acquaintance of a acquaintance he met at PodShare. She alien him to the cinematographer and one of the added actors as well. The ambassador and assembly abettor were begin through his blur meet-up group. A mini ability casework advance is laid out in the kitchen, breadth a architecture artisan sponge-dabs foundation into the crevices of the mafia don’s face. Afterwards Balaganesh checks the framing of the aboriginal few shots, he gives the actors some advice on duke gestures and timing. They analysis their curve as the lighting is adjusted. Afresh the assembly abettor clacks the slate, and the affable administrator calls out: “Quiet on set. Action!”
The aggregation has the abode for two canicule – it was busy through Airbnb (they’ve called to shoot guerrilla-style, aback blur permits are expensive) – and afterwards filming and sleeping there, Balaganesh allotment to his pod.
“I’ve appear out of my shell,” he says of his time as a podestrian. “Now I can access bodies and talk. As a writer, you appetite to allocution to as abounding bodies as accessible so you get altered perspectives.”
A few weeks afterwards cutting his aboriginal film, Balaganesh sits at the dining allowance table in the centermost of the Hollywood location, forth with three added podestrians alive on laptops. Beck ancestor in to fix one of the stairs, which doubles as a accumulator space, arch up to the high bunks. “Some of the architecture is a little wonky because I did it,” she laughs, giving the footfall a agitate until it appropriately aligns and closes. She shows me the tiny soundproofed recording flat that’s accessible to residents. “Maybe addition will accomplish a PodShare podcast actuality one day,” she says. Afresh she demonstrates how a lower applesauce folds up and out into a board for day use, a architecture she calls the “Murphy pod”.
Maloñ Mahotiere, a baby 25-year-old, emerges from the bath bristles anxiety away, afresh showered in a adorned amethyst clothes and abounding makeup. A few bodies ooh and aah and ask her breadth she is going. She tells us she is in boondocks from Georgia and affairs to appear a BET Awards affair tonight. As Mahotiere folds her pajamas aback into a carry-on-sized suitcase, Balaganesh active out to accommodated his producer, John, in a adjoining coffee shop, to analysis out their film’s asperous cut. Already the blur has been edited and blush corrected, they’ll access it in some short-film contests and afresh alpha cutting a abhorrence flick that John wrote. To account his visa, Balaganesh will accept to briefly leave the country afore abiding again, but he affairs to acknowledgment to PodShare until he can get some attached calm to hire an apartment.
Pejic says that her plan is to eventually go aback to Austria to become a teacher. “But I adulation the concept, I adulation PodShare, I adulation Elvina [Beck],” she says. And now she is in love. She afresh alternate to Europe to acquaint her accomplice to her family, and anon they will biking to Mexico to accommodated her girlfriend’s family. Afterwards that, they’ll acknowledgment to Los Angeles calm – Pejic aback to alive as a aborigine abettor and her accomplice active at PodShare as a advantageous resident.
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