What is Co-living?

Commune, co-housing, communal living and today's trend of co-living all bring people together for a common purpose. Sometimes it's to work collectively, other times it's for the social aspect. With co-living, it's a little bit of both. This new trend is rising in popularity, especially with entrepreneurial millennials.

Today, there are an estimated 3,300 beds across all existing co-living properties. With the growing interest, this number is on the rise. Popularity is high enough that certain properties even have a waitlist.

Unlike traditional apartment living, co-living offers a combination of personal and communal space. Often, existing properties receive a modification to suit this living arrangement. Single houses can accommodate co-living arrangements rather easily. Additionally, apartment buildings can transform, as well. Co-living options are heading toward the mainstream, especially in high-priced urban areas.

The specifics of co-living

Co-living properties attract people who feel too busy to socialize outside of work. Managed by co-living companies, these modified properties offer a unique living environment.

Management companies do more than the usual handling of issues or making repairs. They also establish house rules and set up any amenities for residents. Jay Standish, the co-founder of Open Door, says the idea is to bring together a wide variety of urban dwellers under one roof. Disregarding the “past assumptions about what communal living looks like," leads to authentic communities.

Residents of these communities do more than share communal living space. They usually have similar interests, values or intentions. Many co-living residents find this common ground helpful with collaboration and networking.

Millennials place openness in higher regard than other generations. This translates well into the template for co-living. Feeling more natural in a co-living environment, they can find it more socially rewarding.

It all started in California

The trend originated in Northern California. The need for housing arose to cater to a large number of start-up professionals in the area. Often, their living situation was temporary and their finances not so good. They needed a place to join with their professional peers to network, share ideas and even work.

With so much time together, why not live in the same place? Today, co-living properties are available across the country. The San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Oakland, Berkeley and Los Angeles are just a few options.

What makes co-living appealing

Co-living set-ups often consist of private bedrooms and bathrooms for personal use. Communal spaces consist of those for living and dining. Any outdoor space or office space is communal, as well.

This layout helps bring people together for instant connections with their “new friends." Common interests make conversation easy. Most people who take advantage of this living situation come into it ready to share.

Sample floor plan of a coliving apartment

Source: Cushman & Wakefield

Being managed by a larger business, co-living properties often offer extra amenities. These are often items you'd pay extra for in a more traditional living situation. Either that or they wouldn't be available at all. For co-living residents, these are usually rolled into your rent or tacked on with a small fee.

Amenities included

Many co-living residents enjoy internet connectivity, maid services and laundry facilities. Based on where you live in the country, other added features can be available. You may have access to outdoor space like a garden or even have animals like chickens. Other properties may provide workshop space for artistic expression.

For extra professional development, some co-living management companies organize special events and workshops. Events can be purely social or help residents connect with their local community. Workshops tend to align with professional interests.

How the cost stacks up

Many co-living residents say the cost isn't much different from roommate living. However, some residents may end up paying more based on the location of the co-living space.

Whether the cost is comparable or slightly more, you can often get more for your money co-living. Living in an environment, “to cultivate collaborations and serendipity among residents and the extended community," adds value, according to coliving.com. While often a short-term accommodation, co-living can offer the added advantages of:

  • Fully-furnished private and communal rooms
  • Concierge service
  • Utilities and internet included in rent
  • Luxury-grade living

Residents often get higher-quality amenities and services, as well. This is because a larger pool of residents are splitting costs. Common areas are often nicer than what a single renter could afford alone.

You're additionally saved the time of finding your own roommates. No more online searching, which can lead to complicated relationships. House rules that can end up in argument are already established. You won't have to argue about bills or how to maintain your home.

Traditional living situations also offer less added value in areas not as tangible. Co-living companies often promote the added advantage of authenticity and community. These two features focus on interpersonal connections you may not find with roommates.

Where to find co-living properties

Businesses outside of the regular real estate market manage most co-living properties. This means it can be easier to find vacancies by going to their direct sites. According to travelranked.com, these companies manage the best co-living spaces in the U.S., with properties across many cities:

These companies manage co-living spaces, with properties in limited cities:

  • WeLive: New York City and Washington, D.C.
  • Tribe: New York City and San Francisco
  • Outpost: New York City
  • Dwell: Brooklyn, NY
  • Haas: San Francisco

Each site allows you to search for availability. You can also research their vetting processes for tenants. Vacancies usually don't stay open for long, so make sure to follow up when you find something.

Decide if co-living is right for you

Co-living continues to rise in popularity for many reasons. The offer of high-end amenities, paired with the benefit of living with people of similar interests is attractive.

Millennials continue gravitating toward this option to be around other people. Not only that, but the ease of connecting with others as friends or colleagues is very attractive. For those individuals on the move, co-living provides an opportunity to make connections. You can also get established in an urban environment without struggling with logistics.

Header Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
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Lesly GregoryLesly Gregory has over 15 years of marketing experience, ranging from community management to blogging to creating marketing collateral for a variety of industries. A graduate of Boston University, Lesly holds a B.S. in Journalism. She currently lives in Atlanta with her husband, two young children, three cats and assorted fish.

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