Coliving: a housing solution or corporate dormitories to cash on?

There is a counter opinion on all the talk around Coliving. Is it just a movement created to cash on the increased density of living, or is it actually a solution to the housing crisis.

In many coliving spaces, you see the rents starting from $1100, and that too for shared living in a hotel-sized room with many shared and communal amenities like event space, bar, library, yoga room, co-working space, etc. There is no upfront fee, and you can leave at a month's notice.

On the other hand, tenants like Gagan Singhal, 31, have lived at SimplyGuest for a year and like it enough that he is now a “community manager.” He says co-living offered him a sense of freedom after decades of renting in different parts of India.

He says, “I was looking for flexibility rather than being sucked into the cycle of agents, paying brokerage each time you move and lock-in a new contract, and SimplyGuest had that.”

A lot of coliving operators call themselves a “global living movement” rather than a rental solution.

But on the other hand, coliving places are trying to squeeze every living small space into the same building, making it unliveable long-term. You can treat it as a retreat for few months and then go back to your normal renting. Does this mean coliving is a fad? or is it here to stay?

Many coliving spaces are marketing themselves as digital nomad spaces and sell a dream lifestyle, that of a modern, flexible, “creative” worker who moves around the world and works remotely from exotic locations.

But if you closely look at the marketing materials and communication by these coliving spaces, you will hear them pitching a solution to the urban housing crisis, both an affordability and community angle. So I don't see any difference in the offering; these are just different operators at different locations, ideally selling the same thing.

But instead, co-living is pitched as a utopian response to rapidly changing societal dynamics with an increasing share of millennials who don't want to own anything and are experience-driven.

From one point of view, it looks like a revolutionary solution to end the housing crisis and loneliness. However, from another point of view, investors and developers look like a plot to cash in on the loneliness quotient of the millennial generation as they constantly fight to discover their true identity.

During my research, a person who doesn't want to be named the biggest coliving operators is 'box rooms.' He says that coliving spaces are trying to squeeze in so much out of every space in a building, making it really difficult to live in the long term.

There is also an element of privacy being broken. Operators put in cameras and access control in spaces to manage these large spaces, but the flip side is there is someone constantly watching you when you are in communal areas, which is quite uncomfortable.

However, time will tell if coliving is heard to stay and solve the housing crisis and loneliness or become another way of living for elites who want to break the monotony of their lives.

In its purest and original form of coliving, communities should control the space, which actually drives a lot of value. Still, the moment it becomes operator driven it lacks the social intent of collective living.

Still, their many projects around the world are propagating the truest form of coliving. But if it has to become sustainable and scalable living, will it still be coliving or something else is yet to be seen.

Source: The Guardian

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