The Collective Living Trend
Increasingly evident is the millennia’s shift in values towards ownership. Whether it is co-working spaces, time share holidays or shared-cab services, the emphasis is on flexibility and sense of community.
More and more people are moving to cities and want to own less. But, traditional residential real-estate has always been designed around creating homes for families that require a private space with a kitchen and living room. With the increasing property prices, this design makes real-estate unaffordable for the urban millennial. The Co-living space, often termed as modern equivalent of boarding house is blurring the lines between private and social residential.
PodShare was founded in 2012 as a response to Los Angeles’ affordable housing crisis. In Syracuse, New York, Commonspace is following a somewhat similar residential model and WeLivefrom the founders of WeWork, recently opened its first living spaces in Washington D.C. and New York City. Developers like PMG too is building 3,500 units in Chicago, Brooklyn, and Miami, featuring smaller living spaces and more shared space.Be it affordable accommodation without compromising on amenities or getting acquainted in a new city, the temporary landing pad or home-like setup, co-living spaces have come across as the best solution.
This new trend has hit the Indian metropolitan cities as well. According to Viral Chhajer, Co-founder & CEO of Stay Abode, one of the providers of co-living residences, close to 44% of the urban millennial admit to feeling lonely at some point or the other when they move to a new city. Co-living spaces in India are perfect solutions to these complex problems.For instance, StayAbode has a host of interest-based socializing spaces in their properties to build a strong community. He added, “Co-living spaces fully utilize all spaces in the building – like corridors, parking spaces and any extra space and convert them into usable areas for recreation. This focus on space utilization and creating more shared spaces over private spaces allows us to create a cost efficiency which makes these spaces more affordable for the residents.”
“The rental residential market is pegged at over $25Bn in India and with the lack of a single brand with substantial market share, the market is ripe for disruption. We’re riding at the back of a scalable technology solution and unique product innovations that’ll allow us to capture significant market share in this space.”Viral Chhajer
The appeal of co-living lies in the community living it offers to the professionals or students living away from families. The fully furnished accommodations with cleaning services, high-speed Wi-Fi, on-site laundry, etc. are the added attractions. Currently, for the millennial, renting an apartment is not only about the living space or facilities but also about the safety, neighbours and social interaction. Thus, some co-living space providers also offer amenities like, gymnasium, swimming pool, co-working areas and organize periodical parties for the residents. CoLive.in is a women’s only co-living space that provides services like Zumba dance classes, self-defence training and exclusive female fitness trainer on demand.
Can Co-Living Work?
Close to 32% of the urban households live in rented homes today. With rising costs of real estate this number is only going to increase. Co-living spaces seek to increase real-estate utilisation that make homes affordable, thus allowing a larger mass of people to live in high quality homes at prime locations.In the absence of professional providers, the large chunk of shared living in India is still dominated by the unorganized traditional hostels and paying guest accommodations that provide cramped space and no facilities. Also, the opportunity for the Collective living environment arises from the perennial problem faced by youngsters and working professionals in the cities who are looked at with suspicion when renting accommodation in housing societies.
However, the challenge in Indian context is fostering community living among Indians who are inherently shy and introverts. Besides, many feel that the concept of women sharing living spaces with men is almost non-existent across cities. “Getting people to be comfortable sharing spaces with one another and living together like a family was perhaps the biggest challenge. Besides that, the underlying philosophy of a co-living space is sharing resources. Driving a feeling of sharing these spaces without any hesitation with the rest of the community at a building is another challenge we’re constantly overcoming,” revealed Chhajer.
The Growing Demand
Globally, the concept of co-living has come of age, with players like WeLive Ollie and Common in USA, You+ in China and Roam in Bali and Tokyo, among others. In India, some of the major players operating across metro cities are Ziffy Homes, WudStay, CoHo ,CoLive, Square Plums, Homigo, Fella homes, to name just a few.
The standardized plug and-play model of co-living, the underlying demand for such spaces and the entrepreneurial skills being displayed by the start-ups in this segment is pulling in venture capitalists to fund these businesses. According to reports, over $51.14 million have been invested in 10 Co-living start-ups over last two years.Even foreign companies like US based Roomi, the rental and sharing house launched operations in India.
StayAbode raised angel funding, in February this year from a consortium of investors led by Ishan Manaktala and Angie Mahtaney. Gaurav Bhalotia (Ex-VP Engineering, Flipkart), Vishal Lulla (CEO, VIshal Exports) and a group of Investors from Lets Venture also participated in the round and a follow-on in August this year from a consortium of investors led by Legacy Global Projects MD Sanjay Shenoy and Mridul Upreti (ex-Joint MD JLL India).
Co-living is changing the way we think about housing. It will soon percolate from millennial and youngsters to people from all age groups. They could also be used to house the growing population of senior citizens. Architect Matthias Hollwich, Director- Hollwich Kushner (HWKN), speaking at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin, said “Current housing options for older people, from retirement communities to nursing homes, are “storage devices” that create social segregation. The co-living complexes –where residents share facilities – are a much better solution, and could lead to happier communities.”
No wonder, ranging from ultra-luxury to basic budget, collective living is becoming a big trend worldwide and is growing across population demography. As per industry watchers, the concept will grow not only in residential space but will emerge in hospitality sector too in a short period of time.