As the local partner of a global co-living community, I spend a portion of my day scanning the news for headlines related to the topic of co-living, analyzing how it affects the communities we live in and what it means for people today and in the future. Without a doubt, the rise of co-living is viral, and the hoopla surrounding it is in full swing — however, it is not a new trend. I talk to a lot of folks who are unaware that co-living has actually been around for centuries. Co-living is a natural solution born out of the driving factor behind the need for it: the human experience.
Picture elderly parents who had originally planned their retirement for the next 20 years, but instead have now decided to move in with their kids. That is co-living. New graduates and young professionals who see sharing spaces as an opportunity to live more conveniently and affordably are rooming up. That is also co-living. People migrating to new countries with the help of sponsor hosts are also participating in co-living, and the stories go on and on. The concept of shared living space has been happening in every part of the planet since even before the real estate industry was created, marketed under different names — rooming houses, multigenerational family living, dormitories or barracks, for example — and all meaning the same thing.
Corporations have caught on and begun to invest aggressively in co-living real estate to make it a viable option for tenants. WeWork, for example, recently began offering co-living spaces under the branch WeLive, offering homes in highly coveted locations like Wall Street, while still helping tenants save on monthly rent as opposed to if they were to go at it alone. The likes of Quarters, Common and Ollie have joined the race for the most affordable, reliable and high-quality brand for co-living space in the USA. The most exciting part of all about co-living, in my opinion, is that regular people get a chance to choose which co-living experience they want from a pool of different styles, amenities and offerings that come into play with each new shiny package. Co-living options will only continue to grow in value over time, quickly deepening the grooves of the co-living market segment within the real estate industry.
Work and social factors play an essential role in the rise of co-living. Young tech professionals are choosing to uproot their lives in order to work, live and play in trendy, highly populated cities like San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Toronto. No matter how densely these locales are packed with people, these young, hungry individuals are coming to these cities, and they are often coming alone. Co-living presents itself, then, as a perfect solution to the isolation of our increasingly busy and tech-enabled lives. It offers a cure for loneliness and an instant community for socializing and building genuine connections.
With every invention and decision made for the last 199,980 years, humans have worked to try to make the world smaller, striving to integrate ourselves into one interconnected community. Then, suddenly, in the last 20 years, society has gone in the complete opposite direction, and recklessly. More than ever before, we have advances in technology bringing about digital spaces like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. As a result, we have all witnessed the family sitting at a restaurant, lost in their own devices as opposed to enjoying each other’s company — technology dividing people at our very own dinner tables. In the name of efficiency and hyper-productivity, we are less likely to participate in the real-world communities we live in, replacing them with social media platforms.
Our innate values, however, are to be part of a physical community where we can connect with people face to face to debate, share and discuss our ideas. What makes us human is the ability to understand each other without pictures, videos and text, but with senses, emotion and body language — there is no emoji for that.
Despite everything, at the age of 42, without a Facebook profile and recently learning that a hashtag is, in fact, a pound sign, I too have fallen in love with what technology can do to reconnect people. I have become an optimist for my two boys, and it’s inspiring to see what the future has in store for them as they get older and move into their own worlds. Nevertheless, as a father in real estate, I have the opportunity to safety net their futures in a meaningful way by empowering them to transition quickly and meet good people. By building co-living properties for our sons and our daughters, it becomes a chance for them to experience and understand that in all the world’s differences, they are perfect and can be happy.