Overview of Co-Living Instead of Renting


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Are you itching to get your first apartment except for one thing—you can't afford it? A growing number of millennials are delaying going out on their own because they are unable to handle the cost of living independently.

In fact, a Pew Research study shows that the most common living arrangement among adults, ages 18-34, is living at home with their parents—more than living with a spouse, roommate, or any other living situation.

Between student loan payments and high housing costs, getting your first place may seem unreachable, and staying at home, at least for a while, probably appears to make the most financial sense.

But there is another option to explore—co-living.

What is Co-Living?

Growing in popularity among 20- and 30-somethings, co-living is an arrangement in which several individuals, unknown to each other, live in a home (which can be a house, apartment, loft, etc.), usually having their own private bedroom but sharing common areas such as the kitchen, living room, outside space, etc.

It's a bit like taking the typical roommate scenario, but instead of one roommate, you have 10 or so, or even more.

This shared-living trend is gaining traction, especially in cities like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, where getting a place on your own, or even with a roommate, can be out of reach. Common, a co-loving company with properties in four US cities, says residents of their New York properties save more than $500 a month on rent over a traditional studio apartment, while their San Francisco residents save as much as $750.

In most cases, co-living provides much more than potential savings on rent. Many of the properties foster a sense of community by offering shared meals, organized social events, and communal workspaces.

How Does It Work?

There are differences in how each co-living situation works, but in general, you pay a monthly fee to a management company, just like you would in a traditional rental. Terms are usually annual, or longer in some cases, but many spaces offer monthly, 3-month, and 6-month contracts.

Depending on the property, rooms and bathrooms can be private or shared, and some even outfit the bedrooms with basic furniture.

The monthly fee typically includes utilities and amenities such as cable and wi-fi. Some co-living spaces take it a step further by providing services like routine cleaning and laundry, and other companies go as far as covering necessities like shampoo, toilet paper, laundry detergent, and other household items.

This “all-inclusive” approach can be appealing to those looking to simplify their housing expenses and can offer additional savings. Taking utilities, services, and supplies into account, Common estimates its New York and San Francisco residents save more than $1,060 and $1,260 respectively over the traditional studio rental. And the furnishings it offers provides even further savings.

Where Can You Find a Co-Living Space?

In recent years, several companies have cropped up that own and manage co-living homes and apartments. Each operates uniquely and boasts different services and environments, but they all maintain the basic concept of community living.

Here are a handful of co-living companies:

Benefits and Drawbacks of Co-Living

Of course, living in a communal space has both positive and negative aspects.

Some benefits include:

  • Potential savings on rent, services, supplies, furniture, etc.
  • Ability to get into a nicer place or closer to the city than you would on your own
  • Access to services and amenities
  • Convenience of having most or all housing costs consolidated
  • Built-in community

Potential drawbacks include:

  • Some properties and options are high-end and could end up costing more than going on your own
  • A constant change in housemates in the properties that allow shorter stays
  • Potential conflict with other residents

Is Co-Living for You?

If the expense of getting your own apartment is keeping you at mom and dad’s longer than you wish, co-living can provide a unique alternative and could be the solution to gaining your independence—without the price tag.

Take the pros and cons into consideration, and be sure to carefully compare the costs of co-living against getting your own place to see if it’s the right option for you.