As we begin to near the end of 2016, a new trend is setting itself up for a big boom in 2017: co-living spaces. Co-living spaces are a new form of affordable housing that allows tenants to move into a building where they have their own bedroom, but share a common area including kitchen and bathrooms with other tenants. They are aimed to be friendly, comfortable, and convenient living products that build more of a sense of community among tenants.
Some might be thinking, “Who would ever want to live like that?” and the answer is millennials. Millennials have been jumping at the opportunity to live in co-living spaces such as Common in New York City, which received over 10,000 applications for one of their 100 bedroom co-living spaces this past year.
Many like to believe that millennials are drawn to co-living spaces because of similarities to the generations old college dormitories, however co-living spaces are much more than anyone’s old residence hall. While the two are similar in the sense that they encourage a more sociable lifestyle, co-living spaces are more of a cross between student housing and hotels. The buildings are completely furnished, and in most cases, utilities and other services such as cleaning are built right into the monthly rent. This style of living is also especially appealing to millennials because of their lack of focus on physical possessions. Those who have been studying the trends of co-living spaces have taken note of the fact that millennials tend to focus on experiences rather than possessions, making co-living spaces an ideal living situation for this generation.
While millennials are taking advantage of the perks brought to the table with co-living spaces, the rest of society can benefit from these housing options as well. Co-living spaces are beginning to offer a solution to the urban housing crunch in many ways. Obviously, this form of living has helped to end the shortage of affordable housing options for young adults. It should also be noted that this type of living has the potential to increase urban real estate values and add pressure to maximize profit per square foot.
Another perk of this style of living might be a little under appreciated; it completely nixes the process of finding a roommate. Millennials tend to live with a roommate(s) to minimize the cost of rent and to have some company. With co-living spaces, there’s no need to look far and wide for a roommate, and there are plenty of people around to form connections with.
One of the biggest issues with young adults finding housing is finding something that’s affordable. Luckily, co-living spaces are incredibly affordable. While a rent of $1,500 per month might seem pricey to some, it’s important to consider everything that’s included with that rent; a fully furnished bedroom and common area, a fully equipped kitchen, utilities, and, in many cases, cleaning services. Not only does this save money, it saves a lot of time and effort. Rather than drowning in separate cable, electric, water, and rent bills, everything is placed neatly into one bill for tenants. One tenant at New York’s Common co-living space told curbed.com that,
“The only bills I pay outside of Common are for food, entertainment, and the subway.”
What about Developers and the Housing Crisis?
For developers, co-living spaces could be the beginning to a beautiful new wave of projects. As of right now, developers looking into co-living housing are able to avoid paying the fees that come along with affordable housing because of interpretations of planning codes. While there are groups working to quash this unofficial policy, nothing has changed yet. Developers jumping into the co-living space trend have done so with the aim to create more housing for those in the workforce. Cities are being faced with tough decisions now: do they let developers slide without paying the affordable housing fees which will in turn greatly help the affordable housing crisis, or do they crack down on codes and collect the fees from developers?
There have been many proposed solutions to the housing crisis such as more zoning so that luxury apartments don’t take over cities, less zoning so that developers are encouraged to build more, and creative strategies like micro-apartments to fit more people in less space, but co-living spaces are one of the most promising. This style of living promotes a sense of community, can save developers and cities plenty of money, and allows working class people to afford fully furnished apartments without adding too much damage to their bank accounts. It’s simple, affordable, and could be the solution to many housing issues in cities across the nation.