Are we about to witness the rise of co-living?

Social Housing February 28th, 2017
Are we about to witness the rise of co-living?

Arthur takes a look at the concept of co-living, what it has to offer, and why it’s set to become increasingly popular in coming years…

Whilst we can all agree that shared housing is nothing new, co-living (or “communal living”) is looking to shake up the way that we think about sharing a property as adults. Based on principles like collaboration, sharing, and building meaningful relationships, these initiatives have often been described as “adult dorms”, especially when options exist to share a bunk-bed with a roommate. The general idea is that residents share a series of communal living space areas (like bathrooms, kitchens, sitting rooms etc.) in the same property, whether that’s a house, a converted mansion, or simply an apartment block. Admittedly for some, it sounds like a nightmare. But for those who relished their years at university, a slightly more responsible version of the cooking together, taking on different roles within the household, and chilling out in communal areas every evening might seem like just the ticket!

In recent years, co-living has become increasingly popular in the United States, particularly the Silicon Valley region, San Francisco and New York, where personally owning property is an unaffordable luxury for many young professionals. A recent Guardian article suspects that the number of young people (18-35 year olds) living with roommates has at least doubled since 1980. It seems like budding entrepreneurs have picked up on this trend as co-living startups are booming, and many of them are already generating significant profits. Some of the current big names are Common (based in New York) and Open Door (based in San Francisco). These companies are looking to re-invent the concept of living with roommates by designing better spaces to facilitate shared experiences, by offering rent schemes on a monthly, 3-monthly and 6-monthly basis.

London, a city where renting can be rather problematic to say the least, recently became home to the UK’s first large-scale co-living scheme. In May 2016, The Collective, owned by entrepreneur Reza Merchant, opened its first co-living tower block home to a community of over 500 rentable units. Since then, the start up has opened several further luxury communal-style living properties across prime areas of the capital, which are looking to attract young professionals. Don’t be fooled, however, co-living in London certainly isn’t cheap. Rents start at £225 per week for the most basic rooms.

The current housing market means that there is no clear end it sight for the Generation Rent phenomenon. With high rents and low interest rates, it appears that factors are currently in favour of these new “co-living” landlords and their start-up ventures. Only time will tell whether this new style of communal living for millennials will have any significant impact on London’s housing bubble.

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