Coliving: Subscription Housing and the Sharing Economy
There's no doubt about it - coliving and subscription housing has arrived, and it's impact is being felt from Silicon Valley to far-flung tropical beaches around the world.
At Outsite, we've been privileged to watch this unfold from the inside, and we've created this guide to help walk those interested through the coliving movement - what is means, who's involved, and what it's like living the coliving lifestyle.
What is coliving, anyway?
Coliving, at it’s core, is living in a space shared by a group of people who didn't necessarily know each other before.
While there have always been collective accommodations like artist residences and different types of intentional communities, various factors have caused demand for all-inclusive living and social spacesexplode over the last 10 years.
Millennials continue moving to expensive urban areas, even with general wage stagnation - because of this, many are more willing to share a living space solely to cut costs.
They’re even more willing when they realize coliving can be a professional and social boon, alongside the flexibility that can come with not leasing and furnishing a traditional apartment.
The coliving experience carries with it hallmarks you may be familiar with: shared kitchens and living spaces, shared amenities, more residents than an average housing situation, and sometimes workspace.
Coliving spaces also run the gamut with flexibility- some offer multiples lease options, and nightly, weekly, and monthly residents all reside together.
It’s a similar premise to coworking – lowering costs and building community by sharing office space instead of renting individual spaces.
Who is coliving for?
In Outsite’s latest survey, 60% of the participants mentioned that they had a home base – so it isn’t necessarily just for digital nomads.
If you’re someone that often travels for work, or perhaps you have flexible hours for some of the year, then you’re likely to find a coliving space useful. The average age was around 35, and 70% of the participants registered as ‘single’ – followed by in a relationship.
In regards to age, the average age of an Outsite Member is 35 years old – a stark contrast to what is commonly portrayed by the digital nomad movement on social media. 20% of US-based start-up Ollie’s coliving spaces are rented by consumers aged 50 years and over.
A brief history of coliving
'Coliving' may be a relatively new term, the idea itself is as old as time. Extended families have been living together forever, and history is dotted coliving projects with many different goals, from helping recent immigrants to providing support to addicts of crime victims move between dependent and independent living.
More recently, coliving has often been a good solution for travelers and other people looking for both housing and work opportunities in different locations from their homes, including displaced workers during the World Wars.
Historically, coliving spaces haven't necessarily been people's first choices. They were bridges, connecting their users to where they want to go, to a life they aspire to live.
Today, the script has been flipped. Many affluent professionals are hungry for community they don't get in their normal lives, while yearning for the flexibility that can come from avoiding traditional tie-downs like apartments, cars, and office jobs. For them, the coliving movement has arrived at the perfect time.
Market Forces at Work
The coliving movement can trace it's geneology pretty directly to the earlier coworking movement. Many of the same trends reshaping office life are now affecting our home lives as well. Housing flexibility is becoming exponentially more valuable to the newly minted class of location flexible/independent mobile workforce.
Part of the reason that coliving is possible is because the millennial/Gen Y generation looks completely different than preceding ones.
Unsurprisingly, this trend is the same for marriage rates: marriage rates declined as much as 10 percentage points over the past decade. (it’s worth noting that while marriage rates are declining, unmarried partnership rates have doubled from 7% to 13% among respondents).
On the whole, millennials are later to the game of having serious long-term relationships, with a much longer window of singledom and an independent lifestyle.
Jobs and the Freelance Economy
The nature of white collar work is also changing dramatically.
The data doesn't lie - there are major shifts happening in when we work, where we work, and who we work for. Turnover is increasing, remote work is exploding, and traditional office cultures are collapsing.
Predictions made demonstrate this: 2015 data showed that for jobs taken by 18- to 24-year olds (young millennials), the individual was no longer at that role 69% of the time within one year, and 93% of the time within five years. This was significantly higher turnover than for 40- to 48-year olds (Generation X) respondents.
What does this actually look like? Many who previously enjoyed full-time roles in offices, with full benefits and coworkers to hang out with on lunch breaks are now working for themselves, and/or changing roles frequently. Maybe they're managing multiple clients on various projects, running their own businesses, or have transitioned to remote roles taking advantage of constantly evolving technologies like Slack and global wifi to work from anywhere.
In many cities, the cost of living has become prohibitive for those not currently employed in a traditional full-time role, and many millennials have opened their minds to the possibility of taking advantage of geo-arbitrage opportunities and work from smaller cities or remote locations as a way to get the best of both worlds: enjoying beautiful surroundings while simultaneously achieving professional success.
But not everyone is moving to beaches to work on laptops. Both coworking and coliving would not have been possible without a receptive real estate market. With the rise of Airbnb and the recovery of the global economy after the 2008 housing market crash, real estate development and investment has picked up momentum. The classic example is WeWork's rise which started in 2010.
Real estate investors have also supported the trend toward coworking and coliving spaces by taking advantage of the greater yields on coworking spaces than fixed investments.
Together, these three factors – changing demographics and lifestyle factors, an evolving definition of work, and a receptive real estate market backed by investors who are capitalizing on reduced risk and quick profits – have made the business models behind these coworking and coliving spaces much more attractive and able to meet the demand for physical locations where single workers could connect with others, accomplish their professional goals, and live the life they want.
Coliving is also growing up alongside the 'digital nomadism' – the concept that professionals living and working from wherever they choose, moving frequently as costs and opportunities present themselves.
Comparing coliving models and communities
Many cities sport stand-alone coliving spaces, but there are a few players moving the market in multiple places, and their models vary.
The larger group of coliving companies use the month-to-month rental model. These companies include names like Common, Ollie, Roam, and StarCity. Think of them as renting a month-to-month apartment, but that apartment is a room in a coliving space.
Another emerging trend is the find-a-roommate model. These services leverage tech to more or less place you in an apartment with roommates. These lean slightly more on the side of college dorm assignments then coliving. You can find this model at companies like Venn and Bungalow.
Outsite, along with WeLive and The Collective, operate on the flexible stay model. Length of stay can vary from a few days for a few months, giving guests greater flexibility.
A day in the life at a coliving space
Much of coliving's appeal comes from the fact that it fits so well with many different lifestyles.
Typically, a day at a coliving space involves morning work sessions, meetings, lunch on your own, afternoon work sessions, breaks, and dinner or evening activities as a group.
After a week at Outsite San Diego - Encinitas Grandview, Outsite's Head of Community put together this script of a typical day there.
Wake up. Take a quick walk around the block in the sunrise. Head to the kitchen for coffee (or make coffee for the house) while eating breakfast.
Head up to the workspace to start work. Spend a few hours on important tasks, calls, and discussing ideas with teammates online and asking the opinion of coliving residents.
Break for lunch. Enjoy leftovers from a community potluck you and your fellow residents had the night before. Return to workspace for some more work.
Take a surf or yoga break. Head down the street to the beach for a few hours of surfing/yoga with a fellow house resident as the sun goes down.
Work for a few more hours, finalize any tasks that have come in over the course of the day.
Head to dinner at a local restaurant with a couple fellow residents, or enjoy trivia night at the local bar.
Time for bed. Wake up the next day rested and ready to do it all again!
Tips and Etiquette
If you’re still on board with the coliving idea (we are too!), there’s one last thing to consider before taking the leap: how to make a successful transition from your current life/work model to coliving.
Here are some tips, tricks, and etiquette to help you understand what you need to do – and avoid – as part of a coliving community.
Be an active member of the community
Join events, meet your housemates and fellow residents, and take an active role in connecting with those you’re living with.
Be considerate of your fellow resident
If keeping your space tidy is tough, opt for a single room and confine your mess to your personal surroundings.
Respect the house rules
Guests, noise, and privacy are common friction points - following the rules makes things smoother.
Even more than coworking, you need to be a self-sufficient, productive member of the space.
Respect Common Areas
The kitchen and dining spaces as sacred. Everyone has to use them, so tidying up after yourself will keep you in everyone’s good books.
Be a wallflower
You don’t have to be social all the time, but it’s impossible to avoid everyone if you’re living in a co-living space.
Be that guy
Do your part, and carry your weight in keeping the coliving space neat, tidy, and nice to live in.
Annoy anyone with headphones on
Headphones mean someone is working or on a call, or they just don’t want to talk.
Break the rules
It's everyones home, and you have to respect that.
Disrespect others space, time, or privacy
The great part about coliving is that you’ll usually find people with the same values and priorities – bad roommates are few and far between.
Respect is crucial to keeping harmony. If you can do that, and take an active part in your community, you’ll have a successful experience that others enjoy too.
The future of coliving
The foundation is laid, but the coliving concept will continue to expand into the many existing gaps in the market. Expect interest and demographic based communities to grow (think retirees, or entrepreneurs), as well as for coliving players to continue to expand the footprint of both their offerings and available locations into the future.
Is coliving in your future? Find out by exploring Outsite's locations worldwide.