A solution to the affordable housing crisis, it's not. But at least two New Yorkers will be getting a steep break on the rent, thanks to SpareRoom CEO Rupert Hunt's recent search for two roommates to share his $8 million West Village spread—at the cost of just $1/month.
As we wrote when Hunt first launched the contest, the CEO of the roommate-matching site explained, "I'm in the fortunate position of not needing to share for financial reasons. I share because I love it and I believe that living with the right people beats living on your own any day." After receiving nearly 9,000 applications for the spot, Hunt picked Jacob Castaldi, 22, who has dropped out of college to move to the city and "pursue his dream to start a viral marketing agency," and Cyrus Schenk, 26, who's moving to the city from Vermont to build a company around his invention, "a groundbreaking ski that adapts to changes in speed and terrain."
While one might ask why not give the cheap apartment to one of the city's struggling writers, artists, civic workers, or teachers, Hunt explains that he liked the idea of helping out up-and-coming entrepreneurs. "When I first launched SpareRoom, I lived with my parents for three months, which allowed me to launch my business," he tells us. "With tech, I thought I could help them get started and there could also be some benefit from my experience. And it’s nice to bounce ideas off each other."
Other than disbelief at the low price, the pair of new roommates didn't have any misgivings about the too-good-to-be-true arrangement, though Castaldi jokes, "Some older people I told about it were skeptical. My grandma was like, 'don't get murdered!'"
As for roommate logistics, Hunt says they've had some discussions, but he has hired a cleaner to come once a week, the better to sidestep the most common source of roommate drama. They're also planning a housewarming party for January once everyone's home from holiday travel.
Schenk tells us that he wouldn't have been able to move to the city without the $1/month rent ("I knew I'd need to make double or triple my current salary to make it work otherwise"), and that he hopes to use the extra wiggle room in his budget to explore the city and quit his window-washing job back in Burlington. Castaldi added, "We’ll probably both be spending [the extra money] on experiences in the city and putting it into our respective businesses."
After the six-month rental period is up, Hunt says, "I don’t know if I’ll interview again, or move to another part of the state to focus on the business in a different area. But I’m sure I’ll look for roommates wherever I go." Meaning you may have another opportunity to throw your hat in the ring for a dirt-cheap apartment. In the meantime, there's always the city's affordable housing lottery.
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