You’ve heard about co-working spaces where several businesses or entrepreneurs get together to work, but have you ever heard of co-living?
Where sharing common living spaces was once the prerogative of student residences and retirement homes, the trend now extends to young professionals, families and baby boomers. These new means of accommodation offer to bring people with the same lifestyle, objectives and/or values together in the same residence. Each has their own space, but some rooms are shared. A village atmosphere is created where community spirit and solidarity are central.
It’s another real Millennial innovation from the generation who are always rewriting the rules of the game. Could co-living be the new way to get by?
What is co-living?
Called co-living, this means of accommodation and lifestyle brings together families, couples or even individuals who’ve made the choice to pool their resources to create, develop and/or finance their living space together. The building is managed by its community or by a company.
The residences or service infrastructures included in co-living are built via a co-living cooperative. Some projects even include a build-it-yourself component or are entirely DIY—built completely by the future residents.
This type of model started little by little to develop in big cities where living expenses are high and access to property is difficult. Forty-five minutes from Vancouver, the WindSong village mixes rural and urban life with its 34 homes, communal spaces, gardens and green facilities. Quebec City has developed a community of forty-two shared residential units, called Co-Habitat, a first in Quebec. The founders present it as a community of neighbours in an urban village.
Another example is the company WeWork, who already offer common office spaces around the world, including in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. It launched into co-living this year with WeLive, two projects in New York City and Washington, DC. Meant for young professionals, they offer studios to three-bedroom units offering shared activities and common spaces. A kind of deluxe vacation camp for young adults.
Instructions for co-living
Co-living follows two main trends: You create your residence from A to Z with the group of co-residents or you join a residential community that’s already established.
In the first case, you need to choose with great care the people who will share your daily life. What are their values, what is your vision of sharing and intimacy, and what do you wish to create together? Establishing the guidelines and regulations before the project gets off the ground are essential for its success. If you share a build-it-yourself project, you’ll need to surround yourself with people with obvious skills in construction and so on.
If you prefer to become part of an existing community, the admission criteria are often strict in order to guarantee the peace and good management of the premises. If you find this adventure tempting, there are websites through which you can meet people who wish to create a co-living space or that offer lodging in their community. For example, check out cohousing.ca.
In terms of insurance: calling your insurer would be a great idea. You’d be able to get advice and look into your specific needs, since co-living is a new lifestyle trend and situations could greatly differ from one another!
Advantages and disadvantages of co-living
- Creating more affordable housing
- Living with people who share the same affinities
- For green projects: respect for nature and recycling and reusing materials are often essential values
- Living in a community with constant social stimulation
- Having to adjust your needs to those of the group
- Taking an obligatory part in community life
- Living spaces that are sometimes too close for comfort in order to leave space for communal areas
- The necessity to run errands or do chores for the group
What’s your take on co-living?