A Look Into Co-Living: The Millennial Approach to the Housing Crisis

by Vivian Morellon

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Homeownership, an idea far from reality for thousands of young professionals today. Traditionally, owning a house paralleled your quality of life and the bigger your house, the better  you were off; today this idea is being challenged. 

It’s a tricky cycle but it all starts with rising student debt that balloons over years with interest, low wages and high cost of city-living. Urban revival has companies settling in cities such as  Los Angeles, Tokyo, Mexico City, San Francisco, Chicago and New York City, increasing population density by receiving thousands of millennials in search of work opportunities. In the desire for city living young professionals end up spending 30-50% of their monthly pay just on rent. When you add transportation cost, food, healthcare and the extras the cost of living ends up consuming all your paycheck and you're left with no money for saving on a downpayment; continuing the renting cycle. 

Longer life expectancies, city densification, technology and population growth leave cities saturated; the supply cannot meet the housing demand. This is a reality for most young professionals in big cities.

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Enter the solution: the Co-Living sector.

What is co-living? Similar to co-working offices, it’s a space that provides all the resources you need in a community setting. Just like conference rooms and utilties are shared at WeWork, communal spaces and facilities are shared in co-housing spaces. The idea of co-living emerged as a response to current environmental, social and economic changes. By living compactly, resources like kitchen gardens and libraries are shared and in turn less energy and water is consumed.  Communal spaces also fulfill the need for face-to-face interactions by establishing a micro society and a chance to collaborate with others. 

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Environmentally, it makes too much sense. By sharing communal spaces we take up less land, use less energy, less heat and the materials used for construction can be bought in bulk, allowing the companies to spend on better quality, producing less packaging waste and lowering the carbon emissions by needing less transportation for materials. By reducing the carbon footprint, emissions and waste, shared housing proves to the one of the most sustainable ways of living. Not only is there less environmental impact but a community setting also encourages the sharing of cars, services and food. For example, many co-living projects come with a kitchen garden in which the community comes together to plant herbs, fruits and vegetables, reducing food production pollution. Another positive by-product of co-living is that people can now afford living in the city, reducing the amount of cars on the road and facilitating alternative transportation, such as biking.

Socially, we are simplifying life and living with less, leaving room for truly valuable possessions and capital to spend on life-enhancing activities. Co-living also makes city life less lonely as it provides a community where like-minded people are encouraged to socialize. Some projects offer gyms, spas, working spaces and entertainment rooms improving quality of living by also  facilitating expertise and work-life balance.

By living with less, the cost of living decreases, especially at the expense of the environment, and people start spending on actually living.