Co-living is much more than shared housing; it’s about making connections with like-minded people. The concept resonates in this day and age because people are feeling increasingly isolated and want to foster a sense of community. Then there are the perks: stylish apartments, affordable prices, flexible contracts and convenient services.
Convincing traditional landlords to get on board was tough. But the concept was validated when we launched our first wholly co-living building, Hmlet@JooChiat, last year – the entire property was rented out in just six weeks. Our members range from ages 18 to 42 across nearly 40 nationalities. But I find that almost everyone who chooses co-living shares the same mentality: they want to make the world a better place.
“Why should people be locked into one property when they don’t know what lies ahead in life?”
I believe that you don’t create communities – you enable them. The real magic of co-living occurs when you place the right people together and they enjoy themselves so much that they’re eager to take ownership of organising events and keeping the community going.
Recent studies show that millennials prioritise experiences and access over ownership, which makes the co-living model all the more relevant. It can also be a solution for people at different stages in life, such as empty-nesters.
Understandably, co-living is particularly popular among expats. It takes away a lot of the anxiety associated with moving to a new city: finding the right apartment in the right location with the right flatmates, and making new friends.
Expensive cities are naturally prime for co-living, but people also need to be ready to live together. In Tokyo, half of our members are locals – Japan has a long culture of shared housing and it is logistically imperative for people to relocate for work. For Singaporeans, however, the decision is based more on lifestyle preferences than logistical needs. We try to attract locals by making Hmlet affordable and also opening our events to non-members.
Data is key to scaling up efficiently. At Hmlet, data informs all our choices: from matching personalities to understanding our members’ comfort levels for shared facilities. Data also drives the way we design our spaces – we’re launching our first purpose-built Hmlet building by the end of this year in Singapore. We also recently acquired Hong Kong startup We R Urban for their expertise in managing micro-spaces and transforming old walk-up apartments into liveable ones. We aim to be in Asia’s 11 biggest cities within the next decade.
Co-living can very well replace how we look at real estate in the future. I believe people are going to consume real estate like a product rather than an investment. After all, why should people be locked into one property when they don’t know what lies ahead in life?
This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine.