(Tldr: If you want a bunch of neighbors like me in Berkeley, this is a good opportunity.)
My own ideal living situation would probably involve a lot of private units containing people who get on well together, around some kind of central place that they could go when they were in the market for seeing other people. And pragmatically, with a lot of shared amenities: someone mowing everyone’s lawn at once, someone cooking for whoever wants it, one amazing washing machines replacing five shoddy washing machines etc. I liked living in a dorm, though I would amend some things.
My impression is that other people also want this kind of thing often, but that very little of it exists for adults. Possibly for good reasons, but I’m not sure.
One relatively close institution is the group house. And while I had mixed experiences in these prior to moving to the Bay, I have loved the slightly modified version, the ‘rationalist group house’. This is like the group house, but with members selected from a social scene whose people are especially likely to be interesting and weird in compatible ways to me.
Two years ago I decided to try to make an extra good (for me) rationalist house, by inviting a list of people I especially wanted to live with to start a new one. This led (via some more complicated algorithmic and experimental shenanigans) to The Bailey, which has indeed been pretty great. It is the sort of place where there is always someone interesting to talk to about something interesting—from gossip to AI to this week’s ambitious world-bettering plans. And where people are busy, but will often stop and eat together, whether it be a bulk-stocked MealSquare, or some delicious and elaborate home-cooked thing. Where people will talk for an hour about how communication works before they lose their temper with you for messing it up. Where the dog is cute and the internal currency is confusing, and the whiteboards are many.
Another nearby institution—a step up in scale from the rationalist house—would be the rationalist neighborhood. And that is what we are starting to try now around The Bailey (on Ward St, Berkeley), to my great excitement.
SSC is part of a wider movement of philosophy enthusiasts, transhumanists, effective altruists, etc which has somehow ended up with the simultaneously boring and arrogant moniker of “the rationalist community”. We’ve developed a small intellectual/social scene in the SF Bay Area, with a few hundred interesting people who hang out together and cooperate on various projects. Since rent in the Bay is so high, a lot of the rationalists there are living in group houses, which have become nuclei for social events and cooperation.
Four of these have ended out clustered on Ward Street in Berkeley, and we’re thinking we might as well try to accelerate this and turn the area into a center of the community. We’ve been trying to snatch up houses in the area, and we just got dibs on four houses immediately adjacent to the existing rationalist cluster that are currently available for rent:
1. A five bedroom house for ~$5500/month, available now
2. A four bedroom house for ~$4200/month, available now
3. A seven-to-eight bedroom house, cost to be determined, available 9/1/17
4. A three bedroom house for ~$3100/month, available now (not adjacent to existing cluster; a few blocks away)
All of these are owned by the same landlord, who we’ve previously found pretty reasonable. They’re all kind of old and not going to win any Modern Architectural Design awards or even Especially Well Maintained awards, but we think (investigations still ongoing) that they’re basically solid and in good shape. Pictures and viewings available on request.
We’re currently looking for people who might be interested, either in renting entire houses, or in taking single rooms in what will probably become group houses. Existing community members are of course welcome to apply, but so is anyone who’s reading this and who thinks the idea sounds interesting. If interested, contact katja.s.grace[at]gmail[dot]com for more information and to arrange viewings, etc.
(disclaimer: I enjoyed living in the Bay Area, but I can’t deny that the prices are terrible, the local politics absurd, and the density at just the right level to frustrate lovers of big cities and quiet suburbs alike. Experiences with the rationalist community there vary widely, from people who say it was life-changingly good to people who found it disappointing and difficult to get into. The housing situation here might make it easier to get into, but no guarantees)
Readers of this who think the idea sounds interesting are also welcome to apply.
What you should do
- If you might be interested in living in the Ward St neighborhood soon, write to me at katja.s.grace[cat]gmail[dot]com. (This is not a commitment.)
- Tell me if you have a group of people you want to live with, or if you are looking to be matched up with some others.
- Expect me to contact you soon, for instance with opportunities to see the houses beginning next week.
- If you want to be contacted about future expansion but don’t want to move soon, or have questions, or want to see photos or be told who else lives here, also write to me.