What are co-living, co-housing & shared living

I have heard a lot of people say shared living, co-housing, and co-living interchangeably. They had existed since before time but in different formats and were not as formalized today. But I would like to take this opportunity to dive into an extended and nuanced explanation of what coliving is and how it’s different from shared living, co-housing, and other forms of housing. There are many related and often overlapping terms, many of which are not well defined or used somewhat loosely, making it difficult for people to understand. So let's clear up the confusion.

So, what is coliving?

As I define it, coliving is a form of housing where residents share a set of interests, values, and/or intentions. The infrastructure can be private flats, shared dorms, etc. But it’s based on values like openness and collaboration, networking, etc. The most common form of coliving in India is a structure integrated into a single building, house, or apartment based on the above predicament.

Co-living is a new trend that has hit the world. When you move halfway across the country, to places with no solid support system -- friends or family --, you no longer have to worry about buying yourself a refrigerator or setting up an internet connection, or even being lonely.

Demography of co-livers

People in these infrastructures tend towards 20 and 30 something professionals more than families or senior citizens. Still, recently we see this trend changing as we see more people from various age groups eager to try coliving. People here want to live on their own terms without restrictions and look for like-minded individuals to explore the joys of life.

What’s different?

Back in the ‘60s to ‘80s, there was a culture of people stacking together to form communities mostly based on the area (land) of living; these communities were mostly developed in isolation and were very activist in nature. As we progressed, the world needed to create more interactive micro-communities for overall development. The current form of coliving somewhat solves this problem. We see many niche coliving communities getting developed, contributing a lot more to developing an individual and community as a whole.

What is co-housing, then?

Cohousing is a specific type of community living where you see private homes common areas like parks, halls, etc. The community is planned, owned, and managed by the residents, and decision-making is consensus-based. The modern society-based model is cohousing. The demography is varied, right from a young bloomer to a senior citizen. This is focused more on the physical infrastructure.

Then what does shared-living mean?

It started when a family used to rent out a spare room, and then became a space where a group of people came together to take a larger house, dividing the stay setup according to their own coconvenience. This is more need-based. It does not necessarily bring people with the same interests together. However, it is possible to have a single room for a reasonable price and share common spaces, then why so?