By Steve Moran

Well okay, just one problem . . . it is actually not technically a senior living community. Here is the story.

A few weeks ago Jack Cumming, a Senior Living FORESIGHT team member, suggested I check out a company called Ollie. I took a look at their website and thought, What a great place to live. I reached out to Ryan Murphy, Associate Director of Marketing and Communications, to figure out how something like this might either fit into the senior living ecosystem or how we might learn from it.

Clarity on Steve Moran and Senior Living 

I am at that age where technically I qualify to move into a senior living community. As a result, I have spent a lot more time pondering two questions:

  • Would I want to move into senior living at all?
  • What kind of senior living community would I want to live in?

I have visited thousands of senior living communities, even sleeping in a number of them. And there are a handful that I have fallen in love with. Most of those, maybe all of those, are priced above what would be comfortable to me.

But the more I thought about it, money is actually not the big barrier for me. The biggest single problem is that I don’t want to just live with a bunch of older people. In my personal life, I go to church with a bunch of people who are my age, but we are in very different stages of our lives. Nice people but I have very little in common with them.

In the church setting the people in their 40s & 50s that I have the most in common with just see me as an older guy who has magical teaching abilities for their 5th & 6th grade kids.

Ollie 101

What Ollie does is provide affordable, high-quality lifestyle housing for young professionals in high-rent areas like New York City and San Francisco. While they were careful to tell me more than once they don’t discriminate by age, and clearly they don’t with some 60-year-olds living in at least one of their communities, the target market is young mostly single professionals who cannot afford their own place and want the place they live to be a diverse experience and not just where they sleep and keep their stuff.

The units are mostly small and they have some units that have shared bedrooms for those who are really looking to control costs. They also provide some basic amenities/services that include weekly tidy ups and linens, towels, and bath amenities. They also have 8-10 activities a month.

Much like senior living, the way to get the most value is to see your housing unit as a place to sleep, keep your things, and get away. And that the common areas are for community and living your life.

Why Ollie Could Be My Thing

I have a long list of why Ollie could be my thing.

  • It means living with a diverse group of young energetic people, providing opportunities to learn from them and to mentor them. 
  • The youth would provide a special kind of passion and energy that you rarely see in senior living.
  • I could still retreat to my own place when I need privacy.
  • It is a naturally occurring, not quite right, a deliberately occurring, community.
  • I suspect that if I needed small amounts of assistance with things I would find either volunteers or young people I could hire to help me out.

What Ollie Has to Offer Senior Living 

This is worth paying attention to. First, they have figured out there is a market for a life-outside-your-sleeping-space kind of housing for mostly a younger audience. Some of Margaret Wylde’s work would suggest this could be appealing to seniors.

I could see senior living communities with blocks of empty units working with Ollie to create a more intergenerational living experience in the community. I could even see a smart developer building a community that includes a portion that would be Ollie living.

You can watch my entire interview below or listen to the podcast on the podcast page.