Co-working has been a popular option for many start-ups over the last few years. The new trend on the scene, however, is co-living, but will it take off in the same way?
Co-living isn’t really a new idea, although living in community hasn’t always been seen in a positive light. Often associated with hippie ideologies favouring peace, love and personal freedom, co-living in the past tended to involve people with a similar outlook on life living together. But now co-working spaces are branching out to offer co-living options to young professionals fed up with unaffordable housing in big cities.
The world’s largest purpose built co-living scheme is set to open in London this May when The Collective opens its doors at Old Oak in West London. The 550-bed community-driven residential concept is setting out to offer Londoners a completely new way of living. Rents will start from £220 per week, including all utility bills, council tax, WiFi, and just about everything else a young professional needs to survive. The space, based just 20 minutes from Oxford Circus, includes a gym, spa, cinema, rooftop terrace and themed dining rooms.
“We’re offering a solution that will enable young working Londoners, who are the lifeblood of the UK economy, to live properly, enjoy themselves and meet like-minded people,” Reza Merchant, CEO of The Collective said. “Co-living creates a genuine sense of community alongside access to so many more amenities than you would get in a flatshare.”
But the amenities aren’t what are attracting people to co-living spaces. It’s the sense of community with like-minded people that makes people want to move in. “I wanted to be in an environment that is full of collaboration and learning and new situations and conversations,” Megan Lathrop told the Financial Times of her decision to move into Campus, a co-living space in San Francisco, which has since ceased operations due to being unable to create an economically viable business.
Not everyone is so positive about the possibilities of co-living, however. Some have branded them “dorms for grownups” and “for kids who never want to grow up”. The idea of a community manager, or similar, living on site to help facilitate a sense of community puts other people off.
Writing about her six months living in a co-living space, Sarah Kessler said, “Unlike most of my roommates, I have lived in New York for five years and already have a full roster of activities that keeps me too busy to participate in most Campus events or even hang out at the house much. I already have more friends than I have time to see them, and I can find cheaper rent by teaming up with just a couple of roommates.”
It’s impossible to tell if co-living will become the new standard living arrangement for young professionals. The potential is there, of course, but it relies heavily on someone succeeding where Campus failed in creating a co-living space that is both affordable for residents but also a viable profit making business. There are plenty of other businesses working to create similar solutions but only time will tell whether co-living will take off in the same way that co-working has.