By now, you've already heard about coworking. But there's a new concept on the way: Co-living, which is, in a sense, the coworking equivalent of finding housing. A trend that's been quickly embraced by young people in cities across the country, co-living is a new answer to the age-old issue of affordable housing. It's also an ideal way to continue your professional and personal growth outside of the office.
While co-living might seem like a foreign concept, it might just be the perfect way to find a community that's just right for you.
Co-living is the trend of living with many other people in one space that encourages its residents to interact and work together. They are most often run by companies and have popped up in response to the huge number of young people moving to expensive cities in search of work. Co-living is a new kind of modern housing where residents with shared interests, intentions, and values share a living space where they're almost like a big family.
Co-living is built on the concept of openness and collaboration, with the residents often sharing similar philosophical values. This form of housing is based on the sharing economy. Residents will usually have their own bedroom and bathroom but will share common areas like cooking and living spaces. On a practical level, the expenses are shared between all the residents, which can make it a more economical choice for some. The price you pay for a co-living space will vary depending on the city you live in, but it will always be cheaper than traditional rent.
While you might be imagining a hostel, dorm, or hippie commune, this version of communal living is designed with young, working professionals in mind. While it could feasibly work anywhere, it remains a mostly urban trend at the moment, with residents sharing a house, building, or apartment.
Co-living and coworking are similar in terms of more than just their names. They are both based on collaboration and community and they take a novel approach to daily activities, whether it's how we live or how we work. Many coworking spaces like WeWork are now adding co-living to their options, and a great deal of the co-living spaces around the world include coworking as well.
While they are not the same concept, they share key aspects that skew towards young users. They're also both poised to completely reinvent the way we think about working and living.
Many co-living establishments will double as a co-working space. For those who are digital nomads or remote workers, this is an ideal situation as quality Wi-Fi, and a place to work are located within the space.
Coworking and co-living are also similar because of the ease in which you can network. Both environments allow you to meet with similarly minded people and form relationships. These types of spaces will often have regular organized activities or events where you can naturally integrate with others. Many people opt to work in a co-working space rather than a coffee shop or at home because they want that sense of community; the same reason why people choose to live in a co-living space.
The rise of co-living comes from many factors, including engaging amenities and the enjoyment of living with others who share similar interests. Unlike some communes, those who choose co-living do not separate themselves from the world outside of their living space; they interact normally with the world while choosing to live with like-minded or like-interested individuals. For this reason, you can find co-living spreading across the world. There are co-living spaces in the United States as well as in cities around the globe, with several companies offering multiple locations around the world.
Its popularity also comes from the fact that many people want to be around others—it's easy to just open your door and start a new friendship or even a business. Other benefits include a reduced financial burden, community support, group activities, and a sense of belonging. Co-living currently appeals mostly to younger generations, especially digital nomads who want to be able to travel and don’t want to worry about a mortgage. This type of lifestyle has a heavy emphasis on agility. The ability to move from place to place without being tied down by a lease is freeing to some people.
Co-living spaces solve many problems that digital nomads and millennials face. When moving to a new city, the norm for many is to sign a one year lease, fill the space with your furniture, set up all the utilities, and when the year is up, you must either move or renew the lease.
However, with co-living spaces, there is often no lease agreement or minimum commitment, making it a good fit for people moving from city to city due to professional or personal reasons. Often, there is no security deposit, and you will never have to set up utilities. Because of the communal nature of the housing arrangement, all of the resources are pooled together. The expenses are included and paid for as a group. One last pro to co-living spaces is that many are already furnished, so you won’t have to hire movers or spend money on furniture. While living in a co-living space, you might experience enhanced productivity, especially if there is a coworking space available in the area.
There are now hundreds of co-living spaces of all shapes and sizes around the world. The Collective, founded in 2012, offers both co-living and coworking in London. They offer 546 rooms spread across 10 floors, featuring a movie theater, a library, a gym and a restaurant, plus a shared kitchen on every floor. Sun and Co., meanwhile, is based out of Javea, Spain in a 19th-century home with the option of shared or private rooms.
Some companies are a bit larger and boast multiple locations. Roam operates outposts around the world in places like Bali, Miami, Tokyo and San Francisco. All rooms come with private bathrooms and include cleaning services. Common offers a similar deal in six U.S. cities. WeLive, WeWork's new co-living brand, offers communal spaces in New York and D.C. that split the difference between hotels and apartments—tenants can stay for a few nights or months at a time.
Services that connect users with spaces have also popped up in recent years. Berlin-based Medici Living raised $1.1 billion last year to beef up its co-living platform. CoWoLi, too, tailors its services to digital nomads who want to travel the globe and need help finding the right co-living space.
Co-living spaces are just starting out and the concept is completely new to many people, so concerns regarding safety, scams and practicality are completely valid. Keep in mind, though, that new concepts can become the standard—AirBnb, for example, was considered odd until it disrupted the entire hospitality industry. While each space varies, as long as you do your research you should be fine.
Look up each company online to ensure that they have active websites and that they are legitimate businesses. When visiting potential homes, explore the space and imagine how you would feel coming home to it every day. Consider the specifics, especially if you prefer a private room, an open kitchen, or amenities like a gym and a pool. Meet and chat with people who live there to find out their interests and how they like co-living at the property.
According to research by the Urban Institutes Housing Finance Policy Center, only 1 in 3 millennials under the age of 25 owned a home by the end of 2018. This number is 8-9% lower than we have seen in previous generations. The traditional way of housing has required this change. Millennials are often the demographic that gravitates towards coliving spaces due in part to the general consumer trends towards a sharing economy. Co-living has become more than just a housing model; it has become a solution for the growing younger generations.
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