As real estate prices continue to soar and urban city centres are increasingly embracing the shared economy model of living, it comes as no surprise that coliving is in full bloom and a popular housing solution for many.
Determined to understand how coliving is evolving & where the movement is headed, we looked into the history of coliving, generational shifts & the growing presence of coliving schemes in the European market.
The modern coliving model disrupting the real estate industry today is said to have originated from the basic premise of student housing. Adopting the same model of offering short-term accommodation, shared facilities and providing events for inhabitants – coliving schemes were developed to accommodate a wider demographic of people drawn to a similar, mortgage-free & flexible lifestyle. (Euromonitor, 2018)
In Europe the closest form of coliving first surfaced in Denmark in the 1970s under the “Sættedammen” initiative. A co-housing scheme, Sættedammen provided accommodation for 35 families living in private homes but sharing communal spaces & facilities. The shared spaces were used for social gatherings and everyday activities such as dining and housekeeping.
The attraction to this kind of living sparked a movement and a new standard of living for modern urbanites.
“Today, coliving offers a multitude of possibilities, ranging from people who simply live together – solely sharing the physical space – to communities who also share values, interests and a philosophy of life.” (E. Souza, 2019)
Although an increasing number of people are opting for a solitary lifestyle – away from the traditions of living at home – studies show that young and elderly people in urban hubs are reporting feeling lonelier than ever. Social Media is not helping this problem either – unveiling that despite having a large community base online, our social networks in the “real world” are actually smaller than they were a few years ago. (SPACE10, 2018)
As the city swells with anonymous faces and declining human interaction, it seems the concern of the so-called “loneliness epidemic” has already sparked major concern – so much so that in February 2018, the British government even appointed a “Minister of Loneliness”.
Coliving might not be the go-to solution for everybody, but for many it is a chance to live a happier, more socially connected life.
In fact, in a recent survey investigating how people would like to co-live in 2030, most answered that they were drawn to coliving spaces for the prospect of socialising with others, more than for affordability factors. (SPACE10, 2018)
Majority also opted for living with small communal groups of 4-10 people over 100 others, perhaps due to the increasing desire to form close-knit connections. The exception to this came from respondents who had children, expressing their preference to be part of a larger community between 10-25 people, presumably to have a bigger support network to look after their kids. (SPACE10, 2018)
In the same survey, SPACE10 uncovered what it is that people – young and old, are looking for in a coliving space.
The survey gathered 14,000 responses from 147 countries around Northern Europe, North America and Asia. Though there was an equal split of men and women, 85% of respondents were between 18–39 years old.
Amongst all the insightful findings brought to light in the survey, a key takeaway should be that coliving is no longer just for young millennial professionals and entrepreneurs, but also an attractive living option for members of the older generation.
The trends also show that there is a movement from product-focused to experience-driven real estate – not only in the creation of spaces but also in the way that real estate providers market the offering to professionals from young and older generations.
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If you enjoyed reading this article, read the Part 2 “Coliving Movement in Europe: The Future is Community”.