Photo courtesy Parabol on Unsplash.
Coliving is living with other people and is a type of communal living where the residents share some common areas including some facilities. The concept of coliving is becoming popular in big cities where people migrate to make a living and find it affordable and convenient to share a space due to its affordability, amenities provided, and the charm of living in a community. It is suitable for digital nomads, students, business travelers, people working remotely, those starting a new company, and relocating persons.
The leasing terms in the coliving spaces are flexible. Instead of the traditional eleven-month lease with deposits, the co-living operators offer living spaces for three to six months and some are even offering monthly rental agreements without deposits that suit the lifestyle of the tenants. The concept is becoming popular with the millennials who are embracing new technologies and new concepts like never before, like the shared rides of Ola and Uber.
When a person moves to a different city away from his hometown there are a few things he has to navigate. Other than adjusting to daily living and finding basic facilities he has to find a place he can call his home. The room rents can be very costly in metro cities. For a newcomer to the city who is on his first job, the rent will take away a major chunk of his salary. It is unfortunate that the person would have to compromise on his living standards and cut on many of the amenities. Here coliving which is quite affordable would come to his rescue under an affordable budget.
When you share an apartment with your friends it is possible that there may be many reasons for friction to arise. The most common ones may be for cleaning the room, paying utility bills, buying furniture, etc. This would spoil the relationship between the sharing partners.
Coliving offers a solution to many of these problems. There are furnished rooms, facilities of cleaning services; luxury amenities, individual lease agreements that include utilities in the rent price. The co-living operators reduce the costs for the inhabitants by bunching their products together at a single price. This is economical as instead of paying separate bills for utility, furniture, gym, wifi, and other amenities they have to pay a single bill that is at a discount as compared to when they have to pay the bills separately. As there are a large number of residents the co-living spaces can pass on the savings in way of reduced payments. The only trouble people have to take on arrival is to open their bags. They can bring their own belongings to make their bedroom better but need not bring things like paper towels, soaps, and toilet paper.
Some of the coliving operators provide services like helping set up a local bank account, sim cards for digital nomads, and taxi rides from the airport. People can participate in community events.
So what would constitute a good coliving architecture?
The architecture should be such that it would remove most of the negatives of sharing a space. People are migrating to big cities in search of employment opportunities. At present 55% of the population is living in cities which are expected to grow to 68% by 2050 creating pressure on affordable accommodation for the migrants.
The spaces should enhance the lives of people who occupy them and not become a burden. The architect’s design accommodation in such a way that people can have meaningful conversations. It is all about anticipating the needs of the people. Good designs can provide a pleasant environment thereby spreading happiness. The co-living companies use the high-density design models to be affordable to the persons living there. There are four to six-bedroom units instead of one to two-bedroom units, so the rent per square foot is much higher in coliving space than an apartment where a family lives.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the community events were a regular affair. There were the musicals, the food events, and the tours but with the social distancing required nowadays, there is less of interaction among members. But the digital events are still conducted; the Instagram live and Whatsapp group still encourage people to interact with each other.
Even when you are an introvert you will have a quiet and private bedroom. You are free to decide how long and for which events you wish to hang out with other people. In case you don’t get along with some of the roommates there is always a Customer Relationship Manager to listen to your concerns and shift you whenever possible.
Some of the coliving spaces having presence in major cities in India are-
- Zolo Stays.
- Oyo Life.
- Stanza Living.
- Hello World.
Besides the above-mentioned coliving spaces that have a presence in major cities, there are the ones that are present in a single city. There are around 76 coliving companies in India. Some of the coliving companies are planning expansion outside India.
There are many advantages of living in a coliving space. Some of them are-
- Maintaining a good lifestyle-
When a person is staying in a PG accommodation there are not that many amenities and social life is not great. The house owner would expect you to follow certain rules but in the coliving spaces, there is more freedom. You can mix around with people whenever you wish.
The amenities are all there in co-living spaces and if you want the same amenities in a PG accommodation it would be costly which you may not be able to afford. The costs get distributed in a coliving space and you get to enjoy life to the fullest.
- More time on hand due to freedom from daily chores-
It is difficult to carry out the household chores after having a tiring day at the office and handling an overbearing boss. Sometimes you are in no mood to cook after returning home and after a tiring working week, you wish to enjoy the weekends. Coliving gives you respite from all this and there is the housekeeping staff to keep the space neat and clean. There are laundry facilities, dinner and breakfast are provided leaving you to utilize the spare time as you wish.
- Conflicts are reduced-
There are serious chances of conflict with your roommate in a traditional shared accommodation due to cleanliness issues and late payment of bills. This can make the whole environment tense. These problems are not there in co-living spaces as people are required to pay only their part of the rent. The maintenance and cleanliness is taken care of by the co-living company.
- Staying with likeminded people-
In a shared traditional accommodation if you don’t have the same thoughts, common to your roommate it can become very frustrating as you can’t change the accommodation in between as there is a minimum lease period. In the coliving space, you can find people with whom you share your interests. Here you meet people from diverse walks of life and can share your thoughts and knowledge.
There is also the flexibility of the way you live. There are always some or the other events to keep you occupied. There are quarterly tournaments for cricket, badminton, football, tennis, or you can involve in yoga, Zumba, or other fitness sessions. You can watch movies over Netflix or read books in a corner.
- Terms of living are flexible-
Under the leave license agreement, people have to pay a deposit and can stay for a period of 11 months in major cities in India. This is different in the co-living spaces as people can stay both for the short and long terms and this could be for a few days to even months.
Cons of coliving-
- Confined to major cities-
At present, the coliving spaces are confined to the major cities. This may change in future as the coliving idea will spread to smaller cities too.
- Lack of Privacy-
Though you have a separate personal room there is no privacy like your own house. There is always the sharing of communal spaces. Sometimes you may want to watch a cricket match while your friend is interested in a football match or another one is planning to call some friends. This could be an area with some hassles.
The pan India coliving players are backed by venture capitalists. In the next few years, there is an expectation of investments from global private equity players which would lead to faster growth in this space.
In the co-living spaces, there is going to be increased use of technology with artificial intelligence and machine learning making it easy for everyone. Data analytics can be used to offer the best solutions to the residents. There is the use of touchless technology and features like biometric lockers and temperature sensing doors are available. Technology would be used to analyze behavioral patterns and make services more efficient. Sustainable solutions and green technology would be used to improve the quality of life.
There has been an increased acceptance of remote working and the nomadic lifestyle has become common. People can now aim to be more productive rather than engaging in routine chores like cleaning, cooking, and searching for other resources. Some people move in coliving spaces due to good quality food while the others would like to stay with like-minded people and not judged by the society when they come in late. At the end of the day you can communicate with people of different age groups. There is sharing of knowledge, experiences, and resources which is quite productive. So coliving can prove to be beneficial to people with modest means and the amenities being provided at affordable rates.