Rise of co-living spaces: Redefining community living
10 Aug 2023
In recent years, the concept of community living has undergone a transformative shift with the rise of co-living spaces and these innovative residential arrangements are not only economical but also offer a new way of living that fosters a sense of community, connection, and shared experiences.
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“Co-living spaces are communal living arrangements where residents share common areas, such as kitchens, living rooms, and sometimes even bathrooms, while having private bedrooms or smaller living spaces,” says Yael Geffen, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.
She adds that these spaces often come fully furnished and include utilities, cleaning services, and various amenities like gyms, coworking spaces and social areas.
“Millennials, the largest demographic cohort in many countries, have been at the forefront of driving the co-living trend. With rising living costs, many young people are seeking affordable housing options that provide flexibility and convenience.
“The rise of remote work and the growth of the digital nomad community have also contributed significantly to the popularity of co-living spaces. Digital nomads, who often work while travelling, benefit from the flexibility and community-oriented environment offered by co-living spaces.
“Co-living spaces present an intriguing and evolving aspect of the real estate market and their increasing popularity suggests they will continue to shape the future of housing options for certain demographics.
“Investors and real estate developers have taken notice of this trend and are capitalising on the growing demand with both startups and established companies in the real estate sector expanding their portfolios to include co-living properties and some are even developing dedicated co-living communities.”
Geffen says that although the trend is only beginning taken off in SA, she believes it’s only a matter of time as two of the key benefits are affordability and security.
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There are also numerous other compelling reasons for the growing popularity of this housing option:
Embracing Shared Spaces:
Co-living spaces prioritise shared amenities and communal areas, challenging the traditional notion of private living. Residents have access to shared kitchens, living rooms, and dining areas, providing opportunities for socialising, collaboration and the cultivation of meaningful relationships.
These shared spaces encourage interaction, making it easier to connect with like-minded individuals and build a sense of community.
Promoting Social Engagement:
Community living has been redefined by the emphasis on social engagement within co-living spaces. These environments often host regular social events, workshops and activities to encourage interaction among residents.
From game nights and yoga classes to educational seminars and community projects, co-living spaces provide a platform for residents to engage with one another and develop a sense of belonging.
Fostering Diversity and Inclusivity:
Co-living spaces have opened doors to diverse communities. Residents come from various backgrounds, professions, and age groups, creating a rich tapestry of perspectives and experiences.
This diversity enhances the community atmosphere, encouraging cross-cultural interactions, and fostering a spirit of inclusivity. Co-living spaces provide a platform for residents to learn from one another, challenge preconceived notions, and celebrate the richness of diversity.
Simplifying Living Arrangements:
One of the primary appeals of co-living spaces is the simplicity they offer. These spaces typically come fully furnished and equipped, relieving residents of the burdens associated with setting up and managing a traditional living space.
The all-inclusive nature of co-living spaces simplifies the logistics of living, allowing residents to focus on building connections and pursuing their passions.
Enhancing Affordability and Flexibility:
Co-living spaces have emerged as a response to the rising cost of living in urban areas. By providing shared spaces and bedrooms, these arrangements offer a more affordable alternative to traditional renting or owning a home.
Additionally, co-living spaces often provide flexible lease terms, allowing residents to adapt their living arrangements to changing circumstances without being tied down by long-term commitments.
Incorporating Technology and Convenience:
Co-living spaces leverage technology to enhance the resident experience. Many spaces provide online platforms or mobile apps that facilitate communication, event coordination, and community engagement.
These platforms streamline processes and enable residents to connect and collaborate effortlessly, strengthening the sense of community and convenience within the co-living environment.
Emphasising Well-being and Support:
Co-living spaces recognize the importance of well-being and often provide support services for their residents. This may include access to wellness programs, fitness facilities, mental health resources, and professional development opportunities.
The focus on holistic well-being within co-living spaces creates an environment that nurtures personal growth and promotes a healthy work-life balance.
“The rise of co-living spaces has been driven by a combination of factors, including the needs and preferences of millennials, digital nomads, expatriates, retirees and eco-conscious individuals,” concludes Geffen.
“And, as co-living spaces continue to evolve and grow, they are redefining community living by providing residents with a sense of belonging, affordability, flexibility, and the opportunity to create meaningful connections in an increasingly interconnected world.”
READ: How to make multi-generational living work for the whole family
In an article publishes in 2019, Craig Mott, Cape Town Regional Sales Manager for the Rawson Property Group, touched on multi-generational homes.
“That’s not to say living with your parents or grandparents as an adult is without challenges of its own - particularly if you’ve grown used to having your own space and are new to a communal living environment.”
According to Mott, there are ways to make the transition (and general experience) much easier for everyone involved:
1. Plan your space
A single family home and a multi-generational home should ideally look quite different, since each generation really needs a space of their own in which to enjoy some solitude and privacy. Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have a convenient granny flat to provide easy separation when necessary, but a few minor renovations can be just as effective in a crunch.
Mott highly recommends adding a small kitchenette and en-suite bathroom to a second bedroom or living space if possible. This gives the elderly or young professionals living with their parents the ability to do most daily activities without having to join in with the main house if they don’t want to.
Done well, it can also add value to your home when you decide to sell.
Garages are often the focus of renovations for creating a secondary living space, but be cautious to have plans approved and not to do any revamps that will affect the sale price of your property down the line.
“The ability to take time out in your own space is essential. A little bit of autonomy goes a long way towards creating a peaceful and happy multi-generational home,” he says.
Homeowners need to take the physical challenges of old age into account when planning a multi-generational layout.
It’s always a good idea to give elderly family members ground floor living spaces with no stairs or potential tripping hazards. Depending on their level of health and activity, you may also want to keep them close enough to hear them call for help if they need a hand.
2. Lay out the ground rules
One of the biggest benefits of multi-generational living is that all residents can contribute to the household. According to Mott, those contributions don’t always have to be financial, but should be planned and agreed to in advance.
“Unemployment and other financial difficulties are often the reasons kids move in with their parents or vice versa,” he says.
“That means it’s not always possible for everyone to share expenses like food and rent equally. Make sure you discuss finances upfront, as well as other household contributions like cooking, cleaning and childcare, and make sure everyone is happy that they’re doing their fair share to add value to the home environment.”
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3. Have a plan in place for conflict resolution
Human nature means no home is ever entirely without conflict, and having family members from various generations under one roof means disagreements are bound to arise. Having a plan in place for handling these situations when they happen is important not only for keeping peace in the home, but also making sure everyone feels like their concerns and opinions are being heard.
How you decide to handle conflict may depend on the living arrangements that you have. If everyone is sharing household responsibilities equally, then it may be appropriate to vote on all major decisions. If one generation is footing the entire bill for the home and all its occupants, on the other hand, they may want the final say.
“Either way, it’s always best to discuss any changes and talk through disagreements as calmly as possible. You won’t be able to keep everyone happy all the time, but you can certainly make sure everyone understands each other’s viewpoints and considers the feelings of those around them before making decisions that affect the whole house,” says Mott.