The term ‘co-living’ is becoming a bit of a buzzword in rental circles.
For some it may invoke thoughts of hippy communes in the 60s, or hazy memories of student digs. But in recent years, the appeal for shared living with communal areas and facilities is reaching a much wider demographic.
According to Savills, there were 2,000 new co-living spaces made available in 2022 with a further 4,999 co-living spaces reportedly under construction this year.
And it’s not just students and recent graduates driving the upward trend in co-living; the lifestyle is also gaining popularity with those in their 30s, 40s and beyond.
As city dwellers try to juggle a perfect storm of housing shortages, unaffordability and cost-of-living woes, it’s perhaps unsurprising that so many are turning to co-living as a potential solution.
What exactly is co-living?
A form of purpose-built rental housing, co-living usually comprises studio bedroom units and communal amenity spaces, such as gyms, lounges, gardens and co-working areas.
They are generally built in central regions of large cities, with easy access to public transport, workplaces and local amenities.
Tenancies are typically short-term, ranging from nine to 12 months, but can last much longer.
The pushes and pulls for co-living
One of the potential benefits of co-living is cost-effectiveness.
By sharing living spaces, people can significantly reduce housing expenses. This can make city living more accessible to a broader range of people who usually have little choice in terms of housing.
Co-living spaces are also designed to foster a sense of community, with an emphasis on shared amenities and resident interaction. Some accommodations come equipped with gyms and co-working areas, eliminating the need for residents to invest in these facilities individually.
A built-in social network can help reduce loneliness – a common challenge in cities, especially for newcomers and remote workers. A study by co-living developers The Collective found that 71 per cent of residents felt that living in a shared community had improved their social life.
Flexible lease terms allow residents to adapt to changing circumstances without the constraints of long-term commitments. This flexibility may be particularly appealing to young professionals and millennials.
Finally, co-living can encourage sustainability by using space and resources more efficiently. Smaller private living areas, shared facilities and eco-friendly initiatives can reduce the overall environmental footprint.
To sum up
The shared living industry is growing at a fast rate.
It is not without criticism as concerns have been raised that it is simply a means to increase density and rental yields. There is also a potential lack of privacy to consider.
But for those seeking city a more affordable, flexible, sociable and modern city life, it could well be an attractive solution.
Dean Williamson MRICS