• Claire Wu

Co-living: A New Way of Living Expands in Metropolitan Area

Having a roommate or two is not an uncommon thing these days. As the rent prices increase year by year, more people are leaning towards sharing a place with roommate(s) to make rent more affordable. Amid the rent crisis, millennials are embracing the idea of co-living as the trend of this new way of living is constantly on the rise.

Co-living is a recent housing trend among the millennials, which simply put, is to live with a couple of strangers in “dorm-like buildings” where residents share most spaces beside the private bedroom. Some may call this a dorm for adults, or even question what difference it has with “having roommates” in a traditional apartment, yet, co-living offers so much more than just “having roommates.”

In most of the co-living buildings, the common spaces are furnished with quality furniture and kitchen appliances. Though the rooms aren’t fully furnished, it usually comes with a basic set of furniture that allows the residents to move-in whenever they’re ready. Not only are the utilities and WiFi included, but basic household supplies, periodic cleaning services, and catered community events are also counted in rent.

While the average price of these co-living spaces may be higher than the rent of traditional apartments, many millennials and Generation Z are choosing to live here for a better living experience.

Why is Co-living a trend? Is co-living worth it?

Co-living is not an unfamiliar lifestyle for most American adult population. The idea of having a roommate had long been around, but the numbers of doubled-up households have continued to rise. A recent analysis made by Pew Research Center shows that almost one-in-three U.S. adults have a roommate who isn’t their romantic partner or a college student, which was an increase from about 29 percent in 1995.

And one major factor that contributes to the growth of shared households is the climbing living costs. While it’s no surprise that wages aren’t keeping up with living costs, as that cost continues to rise, studies have found that the millennials are spending as much as 45% of their income on rent before they turn 30, not to mention other burdens such as student loans.

According to a survey conducted by Credit Karma, a personal finance company, other reasons why young adults are considering living with a roommate include safety/security issues (27%), to prevent being lonely (25%), and to be close to people with similar interests or professions (21%).

Under the stress of financial and social challenges, millennials, especially those who live in urban areas, are more likely to live with more than one roommate to mitigate costs instead of renting an apartment studio. With that said, the idea of co-living is on the rise and has become one of the most appealing options when it comes to housing.

In New York alone, there are at least 15 co-living companies that are currently operating in the city. While each had different characteristics, most of these companies share a common goal — provide quality living spaces at an affordable price.

Many may be baffled as to why pay a similar amount of price as nearby apartments while they can save a substantial amount of money. One of the biggest differences among all is the guarantee these companies can provide when the traditional roommate situations may not — vetted roommates, clean common spaces, and a set of rules agreed upon moving in.

Co-living companies take care of a huge chunk of the dreadful parts of housing situations. The agents will screen the prospective tenants thoroughly before proceeding the next step, making it safer than finding random roommates on Facebook or Craigslist. Benefits such as weekly cleaning and delivery of household supplies greatly decrease the tension one may have with their roommates.

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Other than that, the perks that these co-living spaces offer are what attract city dwellers.

Building a better living experience is a key component of many co-living companies’ models. Living in the city usually means compromising, when urban dwellers spend a huge part of spending on rent and living costs, young adults usually have to forgo the idea of building a quality lifestyle. With that idea in mind, most of these co-living spaces are fully furnished with quality furniture and high-end appliances that renters won’t usually invest it.

The idea of community is also an element that’s been largely marketed by these co-living companies. Not only will the tenants get to socialize in their own homes daily, but these companies will also arrange social events such as wine tastings and museum visits that allow the tenants, either from the same building or not, to get together.

Above them, the flexibility and convenience that these co-living companies provide are what makes them extra appealing. Unpredictable things happen, and when they do, the traditional one-year lease is one of the hardest things to deal with when necessary. These co-living companies offer shorter leases, usually at least three months, which opens up as an option for prospective tenants such as students doing a summer internship or businessmen coming for a short-term stay.

While co-living is certainly gaining its popularity among city dwellers, but at its current price range, it’s certainly not for everyone. However, the expansion of these companies over the past few years can’t be unseen. At its current state, many of these companies are near occupancy across its market, and the demand remains high. With housing affordability and isolation remain to be an issue, a co-living lifestyle could still function as a solution and continue to drives the business growth in this market.


*Japanese version published in Kigyo Gaikyo April 2020

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