Robb’s life in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was filled with roommate hangouts at the local pub, scenic bike rides around his neighborhood, and a passionate career on Wall Street. However, despite his idyllic NYC life, something was still calling him to the West Coast. Once the pandemic hit, he decided to transfer his Common lease to a sunny Oakland location that would refresh his inspiration to work from home.
We caught up with Robb to find out what he loves about his new life on the West Coast and advice he has for anyone thinking of moving during the pandemic.
Hi Robb, tell us a bit about yourself!
As a lawyer and entrepreneur, I’m always pushing myself to the limits in my career, and specialize in code, data, and APIs. My main passions are working with other entrepreneurs to launch their companies, secure funding, and eventually take over the world. Personally, I find the super-early days of a company to be truly inspiring and am continuously building a roster of clients that challenge me every day in verticals like fintech, AI and other data-centric sectors.
There was a point in my late twenties-early thirties when I noticed that I had started to accumulate too many things, even while remaining committed to minimalism. At that time, I owned a loft and had accumulated random furniture and other clutter. When that period of my life came to an end, I needed to pair everything down for a few years. That’s when I found Common, and not to brag or anything, but now I really don’t need much at all!
My new room in Oakland. Everything that I need to run a cross-border legal practice, video-editing and podcasting.
I lived for over a year at Common Havemeyer, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, It was a great set-up with amazing roommates and a location that was perfect for commuting every day to my office on Wall Street or sometimes Flatiron and Midtown to meet with clients and partners. I spent my evenings biking around Williamsburg, catching a good movie, going to yoga, or relaxing at one of the many amazing restaurants and pubs, often with my Common roomies and friends. It was awesome!
But I’ve always been drawn to the West Coast. When the pandemic hit, that was a signal to make my way back to the Bay Area. I traded in my New York experience for mountains, ocean, and the tech-centric lifestyle that is the Bay Area.
As a lawyer, what inspired you to learn how to code?
I love technology generally, and my focus on ‘tech law’ exposes me to entrepreneurs, developers, and all kinds of forward-thinking individuals, companies, and data. There’s so much available data and so many third-party APIs (or “Application Programming Interfaces”) openly available, that I constantly have crazy ideas for mash-ups and apps. I needed to learn how to code in order to turn my ideas into reality.
Learning the basics of coding, I am able to build out my ideas and then leave the ‘real’ development work to the pros. I work with collaborators and developers to create fun and creative products and am now becoming more and more convinced that the ‘no-code’ movement can enable anyone to become a serial entrepreneur and ship product after product.
What challenges did you face during your move to Oakland?
Moving cities is hard, even in normal times. There are often lease considerations, unforeseen expenses, damage deposit requirements and hassles with moving vans and other random, often inexplicable incidents, that can leave you exhausted–and your bank account depleted.
In my case, the hardest part of my coast to coast move was that it was in 2020. I had to thread the needle between a virulent virus, protests, mask-free rallies, forest fires, and toxic air quality. Besides this seemingly overwhelming list of obstacles, it was totally seamless and Common made it super easy!
“I literally expressed interest in changing my lease to Oakland, and the next day it was signed and done. Honestly, it was totally seamless and hassle-free. One day I was paying rent for a place in NYC, and the next I was living in Oakland. It was an unbelievably smooth transition.”
That comfortable feeling of knowing that I had an apartment, comfortable bed, and laundry machine waiting for me at the end of my journey was so reassuring. I was on my way to the West Coast, with a fresh perspective and inspiration.
How did you originally find out about Common?
I had experimented successfully with independent coliving arrangements, which until recently were not really a ‘post-college’ reality. Personally, I like living with others! The whole experience makes me a better person that is more inclined to think about others first and the occasional social interactions brighten my day. Finding a good living arrangement is the key to navigating any new city or employment scenario. When I decided that my journey would take me to NYC in mid-2018, I did my research for the most turnkey solutions for a ‘rental’ solution.
“Common seemed like the right solution for me, primarily because of the possibility to ‘transfer’ between buildings and cities. Moving back to the West Coast had been a far-off ambition for me, and counterintuitively, moving to NYC with Common actually made it more realistic and attainable.”
What do you love about living in Oakland?
Honestly, what’s not to love! It’s sunny every day, the coffee is awesome, mountain biking in the Berkeley Hills is a stone’s throw away, surf accessibility is a major plus, and the locals are friendly.
Since I’ve moved to California, I’ve been enjoying being able to fuel up my car with Biodiesel, which you can’t get on the East Coast anymore! I’m a true devotee. In my opinion, Biodiesel is by far the most environmentally friendly transportation alternative, and the only place to get 100% Biodiesel is at the Biofuel Oasis in Berkeley–just 1 mile from my new home at Common MacArthur!
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about moving to a new city (even during a pandemic)?
It’s actually a really good time to move! There are so many great rental opportunities right now in cities that were until very recently overpriced and inaccessible to most. Personally, I hate paperwork and bureaucracy, and moving generally means a lot of both. Fortunately, transferring within the Common network means that there is very little of either. My advice is: avoid unnecessary lease and transfer expense stress, move with Common.
Interested in what life could look like for you in California?
Besides our seamless transfer option, we have stunning fully-furnished coliving apartments with utilities, household goods, weekly cleanings, and member events in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. If you want to explore what your life could look like on the sunny West Coast, check out our newest home in SoMa, San Francisco: Common City Gardens.