Starcity’s property at 229 Ellis Street in San Francisco. Rent for Starcity residences varies depending on the location, but generally ranges from $1,000 to $2,300. Photography: Jason Henry

Into the Valley

The Future of Housing May Be $2,000 Dorm Rooms for Grownups

Some have doubts

Andrew Zaleski
Published in
13 min readFeb 25, 2020

This article is part of Into the Valley, a feature series from OneZero about Silicon Valley, the people who live there, and the technology they create.

OOne of the most ambitious real estate projects in Silicon Valley is just getting off the ground in San Jose, on the 100 block of Bassett Street. As early as 2021, a massive, 803-bedroom high-rise apartment building will sit here, not far from the city’s major rail and transit hub. Most importantly, the building will be located a couple miles from a soon-to-come Google campus, which will have twice the office space of the Empire State Building and support 25,000 employees.

When completed, the building will look just like any other apartment complex from the outside. But inside, there will be one key difference: Every resident will get one bedroom to call their own, and that’s it. The kitchens, the bathrooms, the living rooms — really anything that might be considered a common area — will be shared between strangers. According to Jon Dishotsky, the CEO behind the construction, this co-living project represents the best way to create affordable housing in the most expensive place to live in the U.S.

A 36-year-old with a boyish swagger, Dishotsky is the co-founder and CEO of Starcity, a three-year-old startup that specializes in constructing co-living arrangements. Today, almost 200 people live in 11 different Starcity houses in California. If Dishotsky succeeds, that number will multiply many times over.

Starcity co-founder and CEO Jon Dishotsky.

Monthly rent for Starcity residences varies depending on the location, but generally ranges from $1,000 to $2,300. That fee includes utilities, Wi-Fi, basic essentials like dining utensils and toilet paper, a weekly cleaning service, and televisions with subscriptions to HBO, Hulu, and Netflix. Kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and living rooms are all shared. Some observers have likened it to college housing for grown-ups.

“It’s sort of like an upgraded version,” says Dishotsky, when we meet in late…