A Whole New Way of Living
In a world where everything is getting more and more expensive, it's not easy to live in a roommate-free environment for young professionals, starting their career. Remember that loneliness effects eighty-six percent of millennials. Today, 18-24 year-olds are four times as likely to feel lonely all the time than those aged 70 and above.
Millennials do not want to live alone anymore. For them, the challenge is to find affordable housing in structures that promote both social and professional life. In the midst of soaring house prices, housing shortages and the isolation of young people, the trend of co-living is quite simple to explain. Everything pushes this generation to gather in these giant roommate houses that are halfway between startup-villas, resorts, and residences. But is co-living a simple trend or a sustainable way of life?
1- Co-living: what are the advantages?
Co-living is for young professionals who invest in their careers and who prefer renting and human relationships to material possession. This generation, which seems to have favored long studies at the expense of social life, now places sharing and communion with others at the center of everything. Co-living is for all profiles, even introverts and couples would be accepted in these communities. This new way of life is also very flexible and without commitment. It’s possible to live there for a month or a week. No lease, so fewer constraints!
This way of life also encourages the mobility of co-livers. Some co-living residences are dedicated to people who travel a lot and do not want any attachment. For example, since 2013 in Saigon, GlobeTrottr housing has been the source of a real ecosystem of expatriates who work locally on a temporary basis while visiting the country. For Nguyen Phuoc Long, the founder of the co-living area in Vietnam feels that "Co-living is more than living together, it's about sharing a way of life".
Image Credit: GlobeTrottr
Several sites such as Remote Year or Coliving list, offer co-living spaces available around the world. These platforms show that today, there is no need to choose between traveling and working. Moreover, etymologically, the word work comes from English travel!
2- Hackers Houses: when co-working and co-living become one
Why move from home when you can live at your workplace? The business world is increasingly turning the workspace into a place where you feel "at home.” There are ping pong tables, game consoles, gyms, showers, hammocks, restrooms, and even slides.
The big slide of Google's offices in Zurich:
Image Credit: En aparté
Since the boundary between work and home life is increasingly blurred, it’s no wonder that co-working places have blossomed around the world in recent years. Internationally, there are currently more than 10,000 co-working/co-living spaces. This lifestyle is particularly advantageous for people who work freelance and feel isolated because they are deprived of professional interactions during the day. Today, the co-living / co-working ideal is very appreciated by the startups for which life in a hacker house seems ideal.
The phenomenon of hacker houses was born in the USA in the mid-2000s with the appearance of startups related to the deployment of the Internet. These houses bring together young professionals who live together to support each other in the development of their entrepreneurial activities. These people work on a common project, or each focuses on a specific professional project. During the creation of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and his associates lived in a hacker house in Palo Alto, California for several months.
The property developer OpenDoor has created its own California hacker house, Euclid Manor, which brings together 12 co-livers:
Image credit: OpenDoor
Places like WeWork provide a working environment and office spaces for companies and people to work and grow together all over the world. Providing 309 buildings in over 60 cities in over 20 countries, their idea is to create environments that increase productivity, innovation, and collaboration. All you have to do is pick the plan of your desires and pay the monthly fee, and you are officially co-working with hundreds of others just like you. WeWork has also now expanded to WeLive, a co-living experience.
Image Credit: WeWork
3- All pooled, everything on site
For a generation that suffers from loneliness, the desire to belong to a community is central. And that, the promoters of residences of co-living understood it well. They focus their communication on the idea that this way of life can feed its professional network while forging friendly ties on a daily basis. For millennials, immediacy is also preeminent. Co-living residences are the result of this generation which, because it has an overflowing professional life, wants everything, right away. These shared accommodations, therefore, concentrate a multitude of services in the same place: cinemas, gyms, spas, restaurants, cafes, bars... For entertainment, everything is there! Some co-living residences are almost like shopping malls.
Image credit: PostAdsUK
If this way of life in a community surprises you, remember that in several countries around the world, sharing your dwelling with a third party person is common practice. For example in Great Britain, 66% of professionals seek a room to rent to reduce their rent (in London, a rent of 1410 euros is considered cheap). In the heart of London, The Collective offers more than 500 rooms in the Old Oak, a huge co-living residence. The rooms are relatively small (12m2 or 130 sq ft), but the idea is to gather several services for a monthly price that starts at 900 pounds or 1200 dollars and includes everything: rent, heating, electricity, Internet, cleaning fees, access to the laundry. In this large scale building, residents have everything at their fingertips, even their friends. To help them get closer, a manager organizes themed evenings regularly.
Old Oak sees the London co-living in a big way:
Image Credit: Standard
Video Credit: The Collective YouTube Channel
In the United States, where there are 53 million freelancers, co-living accommodation is a must. Among them, the Common Residences currently comprise 400 members and offer 14 homes in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington DC.
Image credit: Common
The flexibility of housing, simplified mobility, boosted professional network, and localized entertainment all seem perfect. Although co-living offers many advantages to young professionals and could quickly become the new norm, this way of life is no longer really adequate when you’re starting a family. Paradoxically, if residences of co-living ensure to be a creative social bond, it seems that in fact it sometimes promotes isolation. A recent article in Vice magazine denounced the lack of humanity of such places where interactions among the residents are limited and where the so-called common rooms are deserted. Is the "Co-Way Of Life," a fashion effect or a real way of life? It's up to you.