Ben Katz is the co-founder of Haven Co-Living, a concept that allows like-minded people to live together in beautiful multi-million dollar homes just six blocks from Venice Beach in California. The amenities abound in these stunning homes, but the bedrooms are shared at an affordable monthly rate of $1,000 by yogis, Soul Cycle instructors, and nurses.
While the name “co-living” may be new, it’s really a rebrand of a concept that’s been around since nearly the dawn of time, known by other names like “village,” “commune,” or “family.”
This gathering of like-minded humans who are health and wellness professionals, Katz and his team hypothesize, will create financial freedom and opportunity in large cities. Haven will hone its focus in on cities “where the rent-to-income ratio is 35 percent or higher,” allowing future residents of Haven to have a “safe and secure place to live that doesn’t make you keep a job you hate.”
I can’t imagine a single 20-something who didn’t just consider sharing a bedroom for that kind of freedom.
Outside of the financial reasons to co-live, there’s a built-in community that comes from sharing a kitchen: humans are happier when they have other people around them. This instinct to gather in groups is rooted in our survival as a species. “According to biology, neuroscience, psychology, and more, our bodies actually tend to work better when we’re around not alone,” NBC reported based on findings from The Greater Good Science Center at The University of California, Berkeley.
Katz and I could have talked about community for the entire interview, and probably could launch our own show about the topic, but the concept of circling the wagons of this particular community around the ideals of wellness is certainly interesting. I’ve always believed that if you give adults something to talk about and permission to form a bond, friendship is forged much more easily.
Haven does just that. It gives the community something to talk about – wellness – and permission to form bonds at community programming ranging from daily yoga practices, to watch-parties in the shared movie theater, to regular chef-created family dinners.
And according to Katz, wellness-minded people simply make better roommates.
“When I think about community, I want to reinforce positive values and I think health and wellness – caring about your fitness caring about clean eating – translates to positive work ethic, translates to positive selection bias in terms of the kind of people who would want to be involved in that community.” Katz goes on to describe how the community at-large is more focused on mindfulness, “And mindful people make better neighbors.”
It’s important to note that before starting what’s essentially a modern, built-to-be-Instagrammed commune, Katz spent time working for the man. It’s an unlikely beginning, but as he talks through it in our interview on #WeGotGoals, it was formative for the next couple of legs on his journey. His experience on Wall Street showed him the “disrespect by the big banks” towards the ordinary consumer that led to the Occupy Wall Street movement. That knowledge and purpose made Katz a pretty dangerous force as he started an online bank: card.com.
He’s a believer in the idea of The Lean Startup, a concept that we at aSweatLife couldn’t advocate for more, especially if you’re testing or bootstrapping a business. Card.com went on to raise more than $18.6 million, according to Crunchbase and Katz progressed a lot as a leader – learning to trust his team to be experts in the things he simply isn’t.
You’ll see that trust come into play as Katz navigates the differences between himself and Haven’s community. Today, the average age of a resident is 26 years old. Katz in contrast is a 40-year-old who followed a largely traditional path.
He trusts his people to guide him.
“I’m really reliant on this woman named Leslie Scofield who sets the tone for the community,” Katz said. And in case you haven’t Googled “Leslie Scofield” yet, it’s extremely important to note that the first image Google returns is one with her and Oprah.
Outside of his backers and employees, though, the most important people Katz is counting on are the people in the community. Katz shared how they’re already showing up for each other in ways he never could have predicted or programmed.
And that, goal getters, is a community-builder’s dream.
Be sure to follow along as Haven continues to grow on Instagram at @CoLivingatHaven and if you’re considering co-living with Haven, be sure to apply soon and tell them aSweatLife sent you for preferential treatment.
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