A new category in home living enables people to live the nomad lifestyle, but not exactly in the manner of the off-the-grid-RV-back-to-nature types, otherwise known as van lifers, who've been living this way in mobile vehicles on public lands.
Urban nomads like to travel as well, but they differ in that they seek luxury comforts found in upscale buildings in vibrant cities. A new start-up called Sentral provides this service.
The luxury nomad lifestyle
People who long to travel and live like a local while they do have some new options. Sentral (formerly Daydream Apartments) is one company that's making this possible. And investors are taking note.
Sentral received backing from ICONIQ Capital, which invested $500 million both in Sentral and in Sentral-managed buildings that ICONIQ owns. Other investors are Highgate Hotels, the Bozzuto Group, and Ascendant Capital Partners.
Sentral manages a network of urban apartments that asks its customers two questions regarding their upcoming adventure: "Where to?" and "How long?" Customers are then presented with a list of options, such as number of bedrooms (or a studio option) and furnished or unfurnished rooms. The apartments are priced with daily or monthly rates.
There are currently 3,000 apartments in the Sentral network located in seven cities:
Sentral's hopes are to expand by adding thousands more apartments to its network, either by managing or acquiring buildings.
Guests, or tenants, have the option of staying one night or for months at a time. Customers who qualify can make money from their own homes, too, using Sentral's managed homeshare program. Customers who do this can get a rent reduction on their stays of 25% or more.
The nomadic, traveling lifestyle has been made possible for more than college students on a break or retirees -- the pandemic has shown that many people can effectively work remotely, and many workers are taking advantage of their newfound freedom.There's a big market of digital nomads: almost 11 million in the United States.
These workers are part of what Sentral CEO Jon Slavet -- formerly a managing director at WeWork -- calls a "work from anywhere" culture -- they're digital nomads, and their average age is 32.
Seventeen percent of digital nomads are the van lifer sort, but because reliable Wi-Fi is important if work is to be done, city apartments would usually be more reliable in that regard.
While the concept of flexible housing for digital nomads is fairly new, there are other companies, such as Landing and Common, that manage a network of apartments for customers to transfer between.
The Millionacres bottom line
Sentral and its investors are betting on the digital nomad lifestyle, or flexible living, being a trend that's here to stay. Even better, they hope this might become a preferred way of life for many people. And it could be.
But the world isn't yet settled from the coronavirus pandemic. What employers allow now, namely working from home, might cease to be an option in the future, and that would probably put a real dent in Sentral's business model -- something for investors to consider.