Venture: Co-Living Startups Provide Affordable Housing Options For Millennials

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Many millennials living on their own are going through complex situations when it comes to the housing situation they’re in, particularly with rent prices increasing by the minute. It is not surprising to hear about millennials making comfortable incomes but still find themselves struggling to make ends meet. 

In recent years, more millennials have been looking for cheaper alternatives to apartments (or even single homes). These alternatives are called “co-living units." These units are designed for multiple people to reside in one home and create a dorm-like environment that promotes socialization and a sense of community among the housemates.

From an economic perspective, this makes sense. Residing in co-living units saves and money from paying high rental fees. Living with other housemates would also mean saving each person a money from their budget since they are splitting the monthly rent between roommates. 

Millennials aren’t the only ones that are increasingly choosing the co-living lifestyle. Boomers are enjoying formalized commune-like versions of co-living units called “intentional communities”. These communities tend be built around values such as self-sufficiency, serenity, and egalitarianism, and these values that are present in these intentional communities can remind them of their youth when they were living in similar living spaces just like what their millennial counterparts are doing now in the co-living units they’re residing in.

A startup that has made great strides in the co-living scene is Common, known for providing sophisticated co-living residences for its members. Based in New York, Common places emphasis on the importance of building a closely-knit community with fellow housemates and having every member’s ideas heard and respected, which can increase members' trust in the startup.

There are also co-living brands that are established by other companies from other industries as well. One such company is the real estate developer, Property Markets Group, which has created a co-living division called, “PMGx” through their Chicago branch. According to the Wall Street Journal, PMGx had planned to include 7,000 beds in 3,500 co-living apartments and its living arrangements would work well with millennials as their rent would only be about $1,000 per month.

For people who just want to communicate with others who live in similar co-living units as they are living in, they can go onto coliving.com. This website offers for people an opportunity to express their statements about the conditions of their living units, considering new regulations for the housemates to follow inside the home, a map of the major co-living units around the world. Those who have never owned or lived in a co-living unit can add their own home onto the list as a residency for prospective members to live in as well.

Though the number of millennials living in co-living residences is increasing every year, the same goes with the number of millennials who are still living with their parents, mostly due to economical reasons. Compared to their parents and grandparents’ generations, more Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 are living with their parents for the first time in 130 years, with the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Palm Beach and Riverside-San Bernadino-Ontario areas having the highest percentages of millennials living with their parents at 44.8% and 43.8% respectively.

Generally, factors such as high monthly rents and low salaries can influence a millennial to decide that moving back in with their parents is a safe decision than using a significant portion of their salaries to pay rent. Many millennials are seeking an urban lifestyle that involves shops, restaurants, and offices near their residences, which have also been expanded into the suburbs as “urban burbs”. Urban burbs are suburbs with an urban feel that includes pedestrian and transit-friendly roads, public parks, and mixed housing units like studios and townhomes.

One co-living startup that aims to integrates community involvement in an urban setting is WeLive. As a subsidiary of coworking company, WeWork, the WeLive startup offers a variety of amenities such as laundry rooms and hot tubs in its co-living units and encourages its members to create friendships with the people in their unit or even in other units as well. WeLive also provides updates regarding community events and also gives members the opportunity to voice their feedback about things that are important in the living units they’re residing in.

Although staying with their parents can mean limited freedoms and maybe a lack of personal space for an individual in the millennial demographic, it may turn out positively in the end. Millennials who stayed with their parents (or other family members) can use the money they’ve saved to buy their own house or at least use that money to settle in a co-living unit that they are able afford. Some millennials may have to save extra amounts of money in their budget if they want to purchase a home in certain cities like San Francisco which four years ago, reached the $1 million mark for the first time in terms of median housing price.

Residing in a co-living unit can have its positives and negatives for the millennial who wants to live in a setting that person can remain comfortable in. A couple factors that can play into a millennial person’s happiness in the co-living unit they’re residing in would not only be the rent they can afford but also with the relationships they have with the peers they live with in the unit, whom they may have a chance to become best friends with.