The difficulties of access to housing in large cities represent one of the great challenges of the 21st century. Hence the need to seek formulas that not only allow this obstacle to be overcome, but also improve the quality of life of citizens. One of these is coliving, a relatively new real estate trend in Europe that is set to revolutionise the rental sector. But what exactly is coliving?
We will now try to summarize a social phenomenon that is here to stay.
What is coliving about and when did it appear?
Although you probably haven’t heard of coliving yet, we are convinced that another similar concept, coworking, is familiar to you. This practice, which is increasingly common in the start-up environment, is based on sharing physical work spaces between several freelancers or small companies, which facilitates networking and increases the possibility of combining synergies and illuminating ideas and business opportunities. In addition, it is usually a more economical solution than renting a traditional office for a single company. The first coworking space, a term coined by software engineer Brad Neuberg to refer to these shared offices, was opened in San Francisco in 2005. Since then, this model has expanded around the world.
Well, coliving emerged in exactly the same decade and also on the west coast of the United States, clearly inspired by coworking. Thus, coliving is a housing system that gives priority to shared spaces and the common use of certain services. In this way, the aim is to favour the exchange of experiences between residents and an optimisation of resources. To sum up, it is a hybrid model between hotels and aparthotels – such as Lugaris’ Barcelona rental flats – and traditional shared accommodation.
Coliving is becoming increasingly popular in cities such as New York, Tokyo, London, Berlin and Amsterdam, where shared housing, whether flats or detached houses, is becoming more popular. One of the signs that this trend is growing is the holding of the first international coliving conference, which took place in San Francisco at the end of 2017.
In general, strictly private spaces have a minimum surface area of between 20 m2 and 30 m2, a bathroom and a kitchen. In addition to this, there are other places for shared use, such as the hall, a communal terrace, a swimming pool or a car park. In some cases, the properties may even have a gym, library and coworking facilities. Additional services may also be offered. For example, the rental price may include a cleaning service in the common and private areas, Wi-Fi connection, private surveillance, daily newspapers, a bicycle rental service, ordering purchases at the supermarket, booking tickets for museums or shows or other small daily operations, options which are already available in our flats in Barcelona.
What type of people are interested in coliving?
Today, coliving attracts especially the so-called generation Y or millennials, that is, those born between 1980 and 1999, approximately. This population group, made up of the first digital natives, is one of the most open to collaborative economy and to sharing experiences that, until recently, were usually individual, such as housing, employment or carpooling. Moreover, their purchasing power is often lower than that of the previous generation, both because of their age and because of the constant deterioration of the labour market and working conditions, so coliving can be an opportunity to save and be able to leave home sooner, something that is not easy in southern Europe. Without going any further, a recent study reveals that, in Spain, around 80% of people under 30 still live with their parents.
However, coliving can also be an excellent option for all those people who are at a transitional point in their lives: for example, men and women who have recently separated or divorced, professionals who are temporarily displaced for work reasons or young people who have moved to study in another city. In these cases, savings would not be the only incentive, but also the easiness of establishing new social links.
What are the advantages of coliving?
There are many benefits of coliving. Among them, we can highlight the following:
- * Flexibility. Rentals are flexible and usually last between one month and one year (in some cases, there may be limitations on the age of applicants, depending on the promoter). Therefore, they do not make the tenant stay in the property for long periods of time if he/she does not wish to.
- * Comfort. The rent includes home insurance and some services associated with the tenant’s stay, such as those mentioned above. This way, you do not have to pay any extra bills.
- * More privacy than a shared rental apartment. With coliving, the tenants are not subject to the limitations of shared accommodation, such as having to use the same fridge, agreeing on the use of the television or balcony, agreeing on the time of visits, etc. In this way, everyone enjoys their own private space and more freedom, without giving up on the services and comforts of a hotel.
- * The amount of house chores is lower. Since many coliving contracts include services such as cleaning the flat when renting, colivers do not have to invest as many hours in housework, thus gaining time for personal matters.
- * It can be cheaper than renting a regular apartment. If we include in the monthly rental fee and the services received, coliving means a saving for those who choose this option. And although it will all depend on the characteristics of the property and the contract, on average, it allows savings of around 250 or 300 euros per month in European cities.
- * It can help young people move out from home earlier. In relation to the previous point, as it is a cheaper alternative to usual rentals, it can help young people to become emancipated.
- * It is perfect to avoid loneliness. Living in a community is a good way to fight against loneliness, which more and more people suffer from in big cities. That is why choosing coliving is ideal for older people who live alone, professionals who have changed cities for work or university students who have moved temporarily to study.
The situation of coliving in Europe
According to a recent study published by JLL Real Estate and collected by PropertyEU, the EU currently has more than 23,000 beds for coliving. Before the Covid-19 episode, this housing solution was on the rise, mainly thanks to investment made by public bodies and the increased demand for flexible residential space.
As we are writing these lines, 53% of the properties dedicated to coliving have around one hundred beds, a percentage that, according to pre-pandemic forecasts, will be close to 80% in the coming years. Coliving is mainly found in the big European capitals, which concentrate 4 out of every 10 homes dedicated to this modality. In the words of James Kingdom, head of strategy at JLL, “colliving will play an important role in the structures and institutional investment of the cities of the future”.
In the case of Spain, where Lugaris rental flats are located, the real estate sector is promoting regulatory changes that will encourage this solution. Unlike what happens with large hotel chains, behind this initiative there are no large international investors, but rather SMEs and small owners. This is why there is not as much pressure and, therefore, the process is being somewhat slow.
The current regulation that is closest to coliving in Spain is that of the apartotels, which is especially suited to the needs of the working age population. This regulation differs from that applied to student residences or tourist flats, which is not adapted to the characteristics of this new type of accommodation.
However, what is undeniable is the enormous potential of colliving in this geographical area. In this respect, we should not forget that Spain is the country that attracts most students from the Erasmus exchange programme. Furthermore, the municipality in which Lugaris flats are located, Barcelona, was the third European city preferred by entrepreneurs to set up a company in 2019, according to the European investment fund Atomico. Furthermore, the Catalan capital was also the fifth city on the continent where the most technological start-ups were founded during that year, with around 800 companies in total. One of the most active neighbourhoods in this regard was the 22@ technology district, located in Poblenou, where our beachside flats are located.
Taking these facts and other similar data into account, and after the coronavirus’ parenthesis, experts predict that coliving will continue to grow in the short and long term. The added value offered by these spaces is fundamental, as they are equipped with the latest technologies and have been designed to improve the experience of the people who live in these buildings, who interact and create community.
Now that you know what coliving is, would you like to live this experience in Barcelona, in a flat overlooking the sea, with all the services and with all the hygienic and safety measures? If so, contact Lugaris without obligation. We will be delighted to guide you so that you can make this project a reality. We are waiting for you!