Coliving spaces: Housing of the 21st Century

Posted on Aug 30, 2019 | 0 comments

Coliving spaces: Housing of the 21st Century

Is coliving a serious change in the way people will choose to find a livable space? Or is it just new jargon for an “adult dorm?”

We talked about the co-working trend and how it is reshaping what people expect from a work environment. Coliving has entered into discussion as a new way of looking at how people would like to arrange their residential situations. Startup Coliving.com defines the word practically and philosophically: it is both  “Shared housing designed to support a purpose-driven life” and “A modern, urban lifestyle that values openness, sharing, and collaboration.” It offers “intentional living” and “modern digital nomad” as synonyms, empathizing the focus on flexibility, community, sustainability and location desirability over simply finding a place to hang one’s hat. In their definition, coliving will “inspire and empower residents to be active creators and participants in the world around them. These environments cultivate collaboration and serendipity among residents and the extended community.” Coliving.com offers a manifesto that includes “Openness and collaboration over competition” and “Sharing over consumption.”

Other observers take a different approach to defining this trend: Business Insider published an article entitled “Millennials are paying thousands of dollars a month for maid service and instant friends in modern ‘hacker houses’” and their take is rather more pragmatic, noting that cash-strapped millennials relocating to high-priced urban areas have necessitated group living arrangements for financial reasons. The top coliving cities currently include San Francisco, London, Seoul, and Taipei—anyone familiar with these locations can certainly sympathize about the cost of renting even the most modest private residence.

For expats heading for a European destination, often the biggest problem is finding affordable housing. In 2019, jobs may be easy enough to come by, but finding a reasonable living space can be difficult, especially if someone is in the early stages of an entrepreneurial plan or prioritizing life/location experiences over high paying work.

While some observers may consider coliving as just a cute way of rebranding the need for a roommate to being a “member” of a residential community, this is a trend attracting significant investment in the real estate market. Common.com (who claims that their members save over $500 every month over a traditional studio apartment) received almost 10,000 applications to fill its nine residences across three major US cities in 2016. WeLive, the co-living offering from coworking giant WeWork, launched locations in New York City and the D.C. area in 2016. Inc.com, noting the success of efforts such as Up(st)Art Creative Living, who offer coliving spaces in Los Angeles for the artistic community, states firmly that “Co-Living Spaces Are Everywhere, and They Offer New Opportunities for Entrepreneurs.”

Advocates of coliving tout it as an alternative to the financial burden of home ownership but importantly also as a renewed focus on belonging to a community. We’ve seen how companies such as Uber and AirBnB transformed the way people catch a ride and find vacations spots; quite possibly, coliving will enable a similar shift in the way people find a place to live.

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