Co-living is a trend that was confirmed in January by CNBC: more and more people are turning to co-living spaces instead of traditional accommodation such as hotels, hostels, or even Airbnbs. Essentially communal living, it brings together a community of people who live near each other in hotel-style comfort and share communal spaces like work areas and kitchens. The buildings are tech enabled with a multitude of amenities.
The main drawcard is that it enables people to afford living in areas that were beyond their financial means in the traditional real estate market, the compromise being that the places are usually quite small. Another advantage is that it offers the residents flexibility, as many of these co-living spaces offer daily to monthly stays.
Co-living offers a built-in sense of community in a world where loneliness is a significant social ill. According to a 2020 US loneliness report by health service company Cigna, three out of every five Americans are lonely.
Homii is a local example of the trend. It is an app, similar to Uber, where users can book stays at apartments in buildings in the major cities of South Africa. The buildings have co-working hubs where residents can work and collaborate with others. With Homii, you can choose from a variety of durations for your stay, from a single day to months. It offers an accessible alternative to traditional renting as there is no lease agreement while credit checks or deposits are not required.
US-based co-living company, Ollie, offers “All Inclusive Living” including ”hotel-style services, built-in community and extraordinary amenities”. Also included is membership to the Ollie Social club, where residents can access weeknight gatherings and weekend getaways in and around their city.
Sun and Co, a Spanish-based company, targets remote workers, digital nomads and location-independent professionals, who are looking to combine work and travel and engage with a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. The usual stay is about two to three weeks with some exceeding several months. In response to COVID-19, Sun and Co. is now offering an extra flexible cancellation policy with a 100% refund.
This kind of lifestyle has big appeal for the younger, millennial and Gen Z generations owing to its sharing and transient nature. However, it does also appeal to older demographics. When asked about the demographic breakdown of Ollie residents, Chris Bledsoe, its co-founder says that “there’s more of a barbell that exists. On one end of the barbell is pretty much who you’d expect. It’s a millennial consumer, and soon to be Generation Z, 22- to 35-year-old renter. On the other end of the barbell is a baby boomer, an empty nester, (which accounts) for about 20, 25 percent of the inbound enquiries into our website. And then in the middle, it tends to get a little bit thinner, but it doesn’t disappear altogether. It’s more specific psychographic groups, like long-distance commuters or recent divorcees. That’s who constitutes most of the middle.”
By Faeeza Khan
Image credit: Cottonbro