Co-living: Passenger phenomenon?
The cities of the future will be measured by their sustainability, flexibility and habitability. The way we live is changing radically and, today, people seek greater freedom of movement, access to technology and a more global coexistence; advantages that come from the hand of 'co-living' but, could the COVID pandemic affect the continuity of this concept?
Since the Industrial Revolution, our society has prioritized private property in terms of housing. However, factors such as post-recession economic difficulties, increased migration to cities, housing shortages and the rental crisis have accelerated the need for alternatives. Within these alternatives, the phenomenon of co-living appears.
Originating in Denmark in the1960 day, “co-living” is presented to us as a concept that seeks to respond to a large sector of young working population that now a days does not plan to buy a home, either for economic reasons, for freedom of mobility, or simply because it prefers to establish itself within collaborative living environments.
But what is co-living really?
The formula of the “co-living” is based, broadly speaking, on renting a room to a new roommate (usually with bathroom included) and sharing the other spaces of the house, including work and leisure areas, as well as additional services such as internet of maximum speed, gym, laundry or dining room. The big difference with the concept of "renting a room to a tenant" is that the concept is much broader and more collaborative.
We could summarize “co-living” as an extension or evolution of coworking in the housing market, in which all residents of the same space, usually like-minded professionals, in addition to sharing a place of development of their work, share a home where they can continue to exchange personal and professional experiences.
What does this concept bring?
The main solutions provided by the concept of co-living” are:
- Higher return than other residential alternatives.
- Share life experience within a community in which to feel identified.
- Social activation
- The convenience of living in a private professional environment with shared services and amenities.
- Added professional value, improved productivity.
How has the COVID-19-caused pandemic impacted “co-living”?
By summarizing it in a single sentence, we could say that the impact of COVID-19 has been positive for “co-living”. Confinement has reinforced the feeling and need to belong to a community. All international studies indicate that “co-living” will continue to gain terrain, by focusing on addressing individuality and loneliness as part of its strategy.
Christopher Hütwohl, Managing Director of Corestate Capital Advisors Spain, during his participation in the fifth day of SIMAPRO 2020, the main professional event of the real estate sector, said: "…COVID-19, digitization, sharing economy or urban concentration have boosted these products, making them less and less alternative, but it will be management that will truly end up defining them. “Co-living” is no longer an alternative, but a product with certain characteristics and valid for both thirtysomethings and retirees...”.
The second wave of COVID-19 is teaching us how to manage unforeseen events differently, to be flexible with our habits of life and personal and professional interrelationship, and to rethink as we want common spaces to be in the future. If there's one thing we're discovering is that spaces are defined by users today, not architects.
So, can we talk about “co-living” as a present and future reality?
The new needs of users will cause “co-living” to evolve, differentiate and diversify, focusing on another public, creating niche models such as “co-living” for families, seniors, students, startups, as well as other specific needs of consumers.
The “co-living” model should adapt to new consumer needs and preferences arising in this uncertain global context, adapting the space to new designs and the incorporation of technology to ensure physical distance and safety/health measures; but it will also be necessary to design new business strategies for leasing, operation and marketing.
Perhaps in Spain this evolution to “co-living” still has a much deeper route than in other European countries; for example, Madrid, despite being the capital of our country, is in line with European “co-living” with only 410 operational beds intended for this concept. An obstacle to its growth is that in Madrid young professionals of high economic level, a direct target of the segment, represent only 15% of the young population.
But it is also true that this journey has begun to take place with special dedication and effort, clearly betting on “co-living” in what represents a declaration of intent before the new residential and real estate models. Not for nothing, large “co-living” companies have just landed in Spain detecting the opportunities presented by the country.
Setting an example back to Madrid, the capital has projects to increase the number of beds by companies such as The Student Hotel, Homii or Urban Campus. And if you look at cities further away from the main ones, Malaga, for example, is currently studying to cede endowment land to build “co-living” spaces for young people.
Co-living, in short, is a place where it coexists day and night and where social interrelationships become n more relevant; and, in the light of pandemic, much more so. That is why we believe that this concept is much broader, addressing a clear cultural transformation and coexistence. Something that we will expand in the future, when we talk about the transformation of some hotels into co-living spaces.