In 2011, one of Stockholm’s limited medieval townhouses, named Hus 24, became the first property in the Nordics to be formally branded a co-living space. Launched by Lisa Renander, an entrepreneur who felt lonely when she moved back to Sweden from Silicon Valley, the building has 12 spots for young professionals looking for a shared home. A sister property, K9, was launched five years later – a disused hotel renovated to hold 50 professionals who have so far included lawyers, consultants, teachers, bartenders and professional dancers alongside start-up workers.
The latest venture to make waves, Colive, opened its first 11-person property in May 2019 in an airy converted attic in Södermalm, one of Stockholm’s hippest city-centre neighbourhoods. Here, the cost of a small double bedroom is around the same as Ida Staberg’s studio in Vällingby (around $850 a month).
“Co-living (provides) a social arena for a lot of people that get lonely,” argues co-founder Katarina Liljestam Beyer. She says that addressing loneliness is a major goal of the company, alongside providing a solution to Stockholm’s long queues for affordable apartments – and its long winters.
“In Sweden it's really dark in the evenings (during the winter) and you don't feel like going out during the week, which makes some people feel isolated. If you already live with other people, you have your dinner company under the same roof as your own room. If you don’t want to socialise, you can just close your door.”
“As far as quality of life goes, it just gives much more joy to be around other people – especially if they're like-minded,” agrees 25-year-old Katrine Bimell, a virtual reality architect who is one of the initial housemates, carefully screened from hundreds of applicants.