Co-living is often expressed through properties which are still effectively traditional HMO properties, focussed very much on a group of individuals. However, properly conceived co-living properties are a revolutionary change in the way that space can be used by communities of people.

Co-living is touted as an innovative and sociable lifestyle for generation rent, yet what’s its appeal? And is it really any different from a house share?The number of 18-35-year-olds living in house shares has doubled since 1980. With tenants in London spending on average more than a third of their monthly wage on rent, it’s perhaps no surprise that innovative communal living concepts such as co-living are drawing so much interest. Boiled down to its fundamentals, co-living may appear like an on-trend, premium spin on the traditional house share. Out are grimy kitchens and draughty bedrooms and in are designer interiors and cinema rooms. However, as the term itself hints, co-living does not simply propose a house to share.

It promises a shared way of living. For some this marketing gloss belies the reality of co-living, in which tenants rent a private room but share communal facilities, as they do in HMOs. For others, failing to distinguish between the two is to gravely misunderstand this innovative form of living that can assist in alleviating pressing social issues such as loneliness

London is home to the world’s largest self-styled co-living space. The Collective Old Oak in north-west London has a staggering 550 bedrooms. The scale of such shared living complexes and the array of services they offer distinguish them from your typical HMO. Your normal flat share’s facilities usually extend to kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms. Old Oak meanwhile boasts a wealth of facilities, including a gym, a cinema, and a ‘library of things’ – a store of useful household and DIY tools such as tape measures and hammers

Many complexes marketed as co-living seem to be aimed at a niche higher end of the market. HMOs or ‘house shares’ are meanwhile usually more evenly distributed throughout it. Admittedly at the upper-end of the market – even for co-living – the Staten Island Urby in New York sounds more like a 5-star hotel than a home. It has bamboo flooring, on-site restaurants and a heated swimming pool. Yet other planned co-living spaces such as Noiascape’s Red House in London are hardly offering the bare essentials.

The prototype space will include yoga rooms, a library and a rooftop garden. These large purpose-built HMOs enable tenants to share, have in-house amenities, keep housing costs down and make new social connections, in today’s internet and technology age this model of housing can only grow…. 

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.

– Henry Ford

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