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Coliving is a type of intentional community providing shared housing for people with shared intentions. This may simply be coming together for activities such as meals and discussion in the common living areas, yet may extend to shared workspace and collective endeavours such as living more sustainably.

Coliving as a modern concept loosely dates back nearly a century in the form of tenements yet may also be considered related to much older forms of communal living such as the longhouse. Its contemporary form has only gained prominence in recent years as a combination of factors have led to interest in this type of living space, including a lack of housing opportunities, the cost of independent accommodation and raising finance to purchase, plus a growing interest in lifestyles not dependent upon long-term contracts.


Coliving can be considered to be the conjunction of two aspects of people living together: the physical space, and the shared values or philosophy. Both vary tremendously resulting in many such spaces being unique. Operational aspects influence the scale of the properties used, but it is more the culture and philosophy of both the operator and the residents using the space that define it.


Coliving is similar to single room occupancy as it offers residents an individual space in a shared property. Most typically a private room with an ensuite bathroom, however shared bathrooms are not uncommon and at lower prices spaces have dormitories in the same manner as a hostel. Spaces may simultaneously offer many of these types of individual space thus providing for multiple budgets and types of resident.

The defining characteristic is that all coliving spaces offer at least a shared kitchen and living room in the same manner as in a flatshare, yet usually larger and better furnished as coliving spaces focus more on the shared facilities than the individual space.

Some may have a separate workspace whether simply offering desks for online work, or tailored more to their specific residents, such as studios for painting or woodworking. More elaborate and larger spaces may also have cafes, gyms, cinemas, and other amenities.[1]


An aspect of intentional communities that is found, especially in smaller independent coliving spaces, is that of shared values, interests, or purpose in life amongst its residents.[2] Such houses often curate their residents to match these values, so that strong bonds and affinities are built which works to resolve the social isolation often found in entirely independent housing units.

This is rarer in the larger commercial spaces due to the intrinsic difficulties of connecting people together at larger sizes and therefore use of the coliving term with such properties tends to result in only physical characteristics defining them.


Operators almost exclusively focus on a single model, and there are two aspects that distinguishes their operations, that of rental period, being either short and mid term, or long term; and that of scale.

Short and mid term rentals range from nightly to monthly thus giving residents great flexibility, but due to occupancy churn and vacancies this model results in higher pricing, in the same manner as for hotels. More traditional long-term contracts provide a more reliable approach to revenue and this is often reflected in their more affordable pricing. [3][4]


Sometime between 1933 and 1934, a shared living space was designed in north London called 'Isokon', which was established by Wells Coats. It offered similar amenities, such as a shared communal space, work space, and things such as a laundry area.[1] It was seen as a part of a greater effort by a greater effort during the intra-war period between World War I and World War II by the Modern Architectural Research Group (MARS) to advance modernist discourse in Britain.[1] Another effort to do this idea was in 1937 by Maxwell Fry (a founding member of MARS) and Elizabeth Denby and was called Kensal House.[1]

Coliving spaces began to emerge in part due to rising property prices.[5] Attempts to establish coliving businesses were made in 2014 and 2015 by companies including 13 and Techsquat, but the attempts failed. Later more successful efforts were made to establish coliving businesses.[6] Relaxations on the minimal rental period for private homes were made in June 2018 from six months to three resulted in a boost for the industry.[6] Cities such as New York City have created incentives for coliving companies to build affordable housing in the city.[7]


Coliving appeals particularly to millennials due to rising property prices.[5] Residents of coliving spaces typically range between the ages of 19 and 40 years. They are typically employees of startups, entrepreneurs, or students.[6] A survey conducted in various cities in India found that approximately 72% of millennials were willing to consider a coliving space. It also found that 55% of 18-23 year olds were willing to spend R10,000-15,000 per month.[8] Part of the appeal to millennials is due also to a relative reluctance to marry and/or start a family due to cost.[5][citation needed] High student loan costs are also a factor.[9] From 2005 to 2015, there was a 39% increase for millennials living with housemates.[10] The rise in coliving and similar housing was also impacted by the financial crisis of 2007–2008.[9] Coliving is particularly popular in cities and urban spaces where housing is costly and limited, providing a more affordable and amenity-based alternative to individual apartments.[11] Guests from the same or similar industry tend to be matched together.[6]


Coliving has grown in popularity in cities such as New York City and London.[12] A Bloomberg article cited "adult dorms" such as coliving facilities as one of the "eight social trends told us about America’s economy in 2018."[13]

Author Alexandria Lafci speculated in 2018 that coliving could become ubiquitous in the same way coworking is. She cited both the expectation of 2.5 billion people living in cities by 2050 and 90% of people living on 10% of our land's surface.[14] Hotelier Ian Schrager claimed that coliving spaces were "blurring the distinction between residential and hotels" due in part to differing sensibilities between millennials and previous generations.[15] Author Polly Chu proposed coliving as a potential solution for Hong Kong's housing issues. She said that it could both be done with cross-generational housing - ie, retrofitting a retirement home to accommodate younger people living with elderly family members - or standard housemates.[16]

Author Matthew Stewart was critical of a specific coliving corporation for "the price, exclusivity, substandard size of bedrooms and cynical view of community." He was also critical of the idea of coliving as a new idea, when he claims that it is a modern, commodified take on a form of living that had a "radical social intent."[1]


Coliving can be considered related to cohousing as the concepts have overlap. Cohousing's distinguishing aspects are that it provides self-contained private units (most often houses), and ownership by the individual unit's resident. Nonetheless and in common with coliving, cohousing projects may have shared areas that benefit all such as to be for events or communal meals. Coliving on the other hand is distinguished by having independent units within the same building, and by most often being rented. None of these are however exclusive thus potential overlaps. [2]


  1. ^ a b c d e Stewart, Matthew (December 2, 2016). "The Collective is Not a New Way of Living – It's an Old One, Commodified". Failed Architecture. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Tiny Rooms, Shared Kitchens: Co-Living on the Rise in Big Cities". Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  3. ^ "So what exactly is coliving? - Open Door". Retrieved 2018-12-27.
  4. ^ "What Is Co-Living?". 2018-04-05. Retrieved 2018-12-27.
  5. ^ a b c Hemnani, Rohit (December 15, 2018). "New real estate sectors reflect changing lifestyles in Asia". Business Times. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Ramchadani, Nisha (December 15, 2018). "All together now: The growing co-living scene in Singapore". Business Times. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  7. ^ Chen, Stefanos (November 1, 2018). "Co-Living Goes Affordable". The New York Times. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  8. ^ Sharma, Ankit (December 27, 2018). "Over 70% millennial willing to consider co-living spaces in top cities: Survey". The Economic Times. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  9. ^ a b Volpe, Allie (August 13, 2018). "The Strange, Unique Intimacy of the Roommate Relationship". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  10. ^ McDannell, Christine (January 2, 2019). "The Generation Y and Millennial Response to Coliving". KNDRD. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  11. ^ "To Keep Rents Down, Some In Big Cities Turn To 'Co-Living'". Retrieved 2018-12-27.
  12. ^ "Technologies predicted to be huge in 2019". Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  13. ^ "What eight social trends told us about America's economy in 2018". Bloomberg. December 30, 2018. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  14. ^ Lafci, Alexandria (October 17, 2018). "We'll soon co-live in apartments in much the same way we co-work". Quartz. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  15. ^ "Hotel Icon Ian Schrager Thinks Communal Living Is the Future". National Real Estate Investor. December 3, 2018. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  16. ^ Chu, Polly (November 9, 2018). "How co-living for old and young could ease Hong Kong's housing crisis and create a more caring community". South China Morning Post. Retrieved January 2, 2019.