Yes, your narrow apartment with a Murphy bed is not the Palace of Versailles. And yes, like a dorm your WeLive apartment comes furnished and with the expectation that your neighbor could be your next best friend.
But dorms generally don’t have, among other things, built-in Bose sound systems, custom-designed West Elm furniture and free fruit-infused water in the lobby. And thanks to some clever, efficient design, even the smallest WeLive studio doesn’t feel cramped.
WeLive is a much more ambitious effort than just trying to figure out how to cram humans into as small a space as possible while maintaining an aura of high-end living. As its leaders will tell you, it’s a new paradigm for living in cities.
The WeLive experience could be described as “asset light.” Your furniture, kitchen equipment, linens, towels, plus your TV, sound system, cable, Wi-fi and utilities are all included. If you’re moving here you don’t have to pack a moving van, instead you show up with your suitcase and your laptop, then make a quick trip to the grocery store and you’re good to go.
The trip to the grocery store might even be optional. The building offers free coffee, tea and — yes — beer, and the move-in kit includes hangers, Co. Bigelow toiletries and a Harry’s shave kit.
Unlike your typical apartment, there is a social component to WeLive. Sure, other buildings might have a cocktail hour or exercise class, but here it’s assumed that you will actually get to know your fellow residents — at least those in your three-story “neighborhood” (there are three neighborhoods in the Crystal City WeLive/WeWork building.) Common areas like the big flat screen TV and video game lounge are hubs of activity, as are a dining area and breakfast nook.
WeLive somehow manages to use internet-connected technology to make the living experience more personal, instead of using it to help people disconnect from in-person contact. A dedicated WeLive app tells residents when there’s free pizza in the kitchen, Game of Thrones on the big TV or a WeLive-organized fitness or cooking class or other activity happening. You can also send messages to your fellow residents, if need be.
One might expect WeLive to be a haven for ramen-noodle-eating, single 20-somethings, but so far that’s not entirely the case. Yes, there are recent college grads working on the lower rungs of tech startups. But there are also older professionals and executives giving it a try. The oldest resident WeLive resident, we’re told, is in his 60s. At least one friendly dog has taken up residence with his 30-something owner — the building is pet friendly.
Company officials are calling WeLive an experiment and are paying close attention to how things go in Crystal City. The location is a slightly more suburban parallel to the only other WeLive location currently open — on Wall Street in Manhattan. Both types of location are important to a company that says it wants to provide a “disruptive alternative to the way people live.”
The Crystal City WeLive is located at 2221 S. Clark Street, a former office building it shares with a WeWork co-working space, and has 216 total units, with 1-4 beds and 1-2 private bathrooms apiece.
Monthly prices, excluding the flat $125/month utility fee, start at $875 for an individual bed or $1,640 for a private unit, according to the WeLive website.