Co-living: An urban alternative
What is co-living?
Co-living offers residents an affordable place to live with communal spaces and a range of perks, such as networking evenings and even cinema screens. The model is built on community, flexibility and amenity. Co-living can appeal to everyone from graduates to entrepreneurs.
Where has the most co-living spaces?
• Several European cities
What are the benefits?
For the consumer, Co-living adds an attractive choice to the range of housing on offer.
The concept of co-living highlights that cities are not only places to work, but places where people can live too. This allows urban areas to retain and attract essential talent, ensuring the city continues to grow and thrive.
Co-living holds the potential to free up larger homes, giving families the chance to stay within the city. As an example of “good density”, it is also valuable from a sustainability perspective.
What are the challenges?
Currently, there is a lack of policy guidance relating to co-living, causing the approach to vary between local authorities. In fact, the Draft London Plan is the only policy to define this new form of shared living.
Creating a sui generis planning use class, which exempts co-living developments from the historic planning rules but enforces appropriate new space and amenity standards, would encourage more schemes to come to the market.
Economic viability is essential to the success of co-living. As a result, developers must:
• Balance operational risk and responsibility
• Pitch an offer that is affordable for the marketplace
• Maintain high standards
• Keep wifi and other tech constantly up to date
• Make a decent return
However, this is not as easy as it may sound. There operational management can be intense (akin to a hotel), as the large numbers of people sharing the same spaces require any issues to be dealt with rapidly.
For now, it appears that co-living will work best in areas where the market is in need of an alternative offering. This may be because of an increase in people looking for quality accommodation, rising rental costs or new arrivals seeking a circle of friends in a large new city.. The objective of co-living is to complement the private rented and build-to-rent sector by providing social and affordable living, while easing the pressure on other areas of the housing market.