Co-living: The Smart Way to Live Together

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Do you want to co-live with others to save money and have a better quality of life? How does paying less rent but living in a far more luxurious home sound? Well, getting a roommate has become quite popular again, only now, we don't want to live with people we know.

The new fad of living with strangers is called "co-living" and the apartments are called "co-living spaces."

The uptick in people wanting to avoid the hefty cost of living alone is evident on the Internet. "Coliving NYC," "Coliving San Francisco," "Coliving DC" and even "Coliving Brooklyn" are major search terms. A simple Google search for "Co-living" calls up dozens of rental services for people looking to live with like-minded people. In Los Angeles, there are several coliving spaces but Upstart Creative Living is different in that it is a community of artists who live and work together and collaborate artistically.

There are dozens of coliving companies and coliving startups that are committed to the one job of finding people to group together in different areas of the country.

What is Coliving?

Co-living is a contractual agreement amongst individuals who live together and share household duties. Common, Ollie, Quarters, Startcity, X Social Communities, Opendoor and WeLive are all coliving companies that already offer thousands of units nationwide. They receive over 15,000 applications per month, from people who are ready to give up their apartments. There is an overwhelming demand of people seeking coliving spaces, so not only are these companies expanding, but other startups are following their lead. While the majority of coliving spaces are in urban settings, some are opening in more residential settings too, like Anyplace in Orange County, California.

Which Amenities Are Common in Coliving Spaces?

Do you want to sunbathe on a gorgeous rooftop? How about smart-home technology? You may find all this at a coliving community. Basically, you pay rent for your room (usually around 140 square feet) and share the bathroom, kitchen and whatever other rooms are in the layout you choose.

Often, utilities are included and so are other amenities, like housekeeping and cleaning, a gym, even catering in some more posh neighborhoods. Some spaces are fully furnished so you can just show up with your suitcases, if that's how light you travel. Most include a co-working space as well, for those who work remotely.

You can see how such an arrangement would be ideally suited for young people, who have yet to amass furniture and other bulky personal items and want a nice but inexpensive place to live in. But how inexpensive these spaces are remains to be seen, especially as this trend grows in higher-income areas like Orange County and Manhattan. Also, co-living spaces so far tend towards the lavish and are situated in modern buildings.

Currently, coliving companies are opening spaces in the big cities, with a huge focus on tech workers. However, their reach is growing each year, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, to include couples and families. And while the big attraction is the savings over other living arrangements, the spaces tend to be upscale for people who want to pay the least for the best.

Millennials and Gen-Z love the sustainability of these living arrangements best of all.

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Is There a Landlord in a Coliving Community?

Your billing and repairs are done through an app, so you don't have the traditional landlord that you need to go through to pay bills and get things fixed. Also, leases are more flexible than traditional ones. Often, they are not as lengthy, either.

Coliving vs Roommates

If you've ever had to relocate for a job, you know how lonely it can be. Coliving spaces offer an immediate sense of community, in an environment where many others are in the same situation. Socializing is built-in in coliving communities, which sometimes boast wine tastings, brunches, movie nights and more.

For people who are not new in town, the main objective tends to be to save money, and they can (saving roughly $500 to $800 versus renting solo). Units are priced to cost anywhere between 10% and 30% less than renting a studio. In New York City, the state has asked some of these companies to provide even more affordable housing. Already, it's working. In the March 2019 report from Apartment List, the median monthly rent for a two bedroom apartment in New York City was $2500, compared with $1,500 at Roomrs, a co-living space.

What's wrong with living with people you know to share the rent? For one thing, rents on most apartments are higher than coliving spaces. Also, coliving with friends can strain relationships. The promise of coliving spaces is that it's like having roommates, only better, because friendships aren't compromised and neither is one's privacy.

Let's face it, sometimes we love our friends but they are not compatible as roommates. There is a certain amount of freedom in sharing a space with acquaintances who have to adhere to strict house rules. Common spaces are often cleaned by a third party, too, so there's never any fighting over chores. Basically, coliving promises to be a renter's utopia.

Is There a Coliving Space Near Me?

If there isn't a coliving space near you, there may be one coming soon. For instance, in Orange County, CA, which is not exactly a bustling city, there is a new coliving company called Anyplace, with designs that are in the works. They are already accumulating email addresses of prospective tenants without a set address.

According to a report by real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, the number of units offered by major co-living companies in the US is going to triple to about 10,000 in the next couple of years. Only time will tell if the coronavirus may increase or decrease those numbers.

How Does Renters Insurance Work for Co-living Spaces?

Renters insurance works in exactly the same way in coliving spaces as it does in any apartment or shared home situation. You'd have to buy your own policy. Even in apartments, it's not a good idea to share one policy because only that policyholder's belongings will be covered. Every tenant in a shared space must have their individual policy in place. Even if the co-living company doesn't require it, it's a wise decision to get coverage in case your home is broken into or if your contents are damaged. Renters insurance doesn't cost very much. Start comparing rates by entering your zip code below.

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