Living in a big city is tough – especially as a young, single person.
Rapidly rising property prices in global cities like London, New York and Hong Kong have pushed the cost of living sky-high for renters. At the same time, millennials are staying single longer and living with their parents – in fact, the Pew Research Center found last year that for the first time, living with a parent is the most common living arrangement for Americans aged 18-34.
In response, a new trend in city living has emerged: co-living. Call it dorm living for adults – people pay for a room (or part of a room) in an apartment with strangers – just as they’ve done for years – and share common spaces like living rooms and kitchens.
But there’s a twist. Co-living arrangements can be twice as expensive as answering a ‘flatmates wanted’ advert or finding an apartment with friends. That’s because most co-living spaces are professional operations, with entire buildings renovated to include extras like movie screening rooms and yoga studios, and they offer extras like internet – and, in some cases, unlimited beer – as part of the monthly rent.
“People are choosing to sacrifice some common space in exchange for getting access to shared spaces that they would not be able to afford otherwise,” says Brad Hargreaves, founder and CEO of Common, which has six co-living spaces spread through New York and San Francisco.
“This is not for everyone,” he says, but a significant segment of the population wants to live in a community, “particularly people who are new to the city”.
He says 70% of his renters have never lived in New York City or San Francisco before, and 30% are from overseas.
Co-living also can help newcomers get their start-ups off the ground, says Ben Smith, head of marketing and community at Founder House, a co-living community aimed at entrepreneurs.
“It’s a new trend but it’s really been around for a long time in the form of boarding houses or international houses.”
Watch the video above to see what bunk life is like. Video by Kieran Nash.