Co-Living: “Living Apart and Together”
Seokwon Yang | Student at Krogerup Højskole, Denmark
Carsharing is a type of service where people can rent cars when needed without needing to have their own cars. It has become a typical example of sharing economy services used by about five hundred people a day on average in Seoul. Carsharing allows people to share something that has been considered as a symbol of ownership for many. It not only means a higher efficiency as more than one person share a car but also a change in our lifestyle in the aspect of mobility. Transportation will be regarded as a form of service now.
While it is relatively easy to understand that sharing economy services enable people to use underused items more effectively by sharing them with others, it seems it takes some time to embrace and understand sharing economy as a lifestyle. It is said that the future is closer than you think. But I often think the future comes a little bit late; in hindsight, however, sometimes it was closer than I had thought. Maybe that’s a trick by the time-stealing men in grey.
By © Grupo luma / CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chris-gallegos-interior-co-working.jpg
When I opened a co-working space in the form of a shared office in 2010, it took some time to make people understand the concept. But nowadays it is not hard to find a co-working space in Seoul and many spaces opened recently actually pursue a shared co-working space. Behind this phenomenon are the recent trends that more and more things can be done remotely and increasingly there are people who work as a small group or alone. Even some predictions suggest that there will be more co-working spaces than there are Starbucks in 2020. Emerging as a new trend, sharing economy now has become something you experience in everyday life.
By © Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15179291
I hope we can also take a moment to think about whether co-living, which is emerging along with the growth of co-working spaces, will be a well-established concept in our life or end up being an exceptional lifestyle for those who follow the trends. That may require us to define the term in simple words first, which is not an easy job. Co-living basically means that a group of people live together in a shared space, but it’s different from a dorm or living with a small number of roommates. It values an effective and efficient use of a space and allows an individual to stay alone but live together at the same time, making him or her feel less lonely. The title of an article about co-living on a newspaper described it as adult dorms for the future generation.
As a residential type, co-living is similar to co-housing began in the 1970s in Denmark. Co-housing is a model of collective housing where residents enjoy their private life while live as a community in common areas. It began in northern Europe, spread to various countries including the U.S. and Japan, and has been evolving to various forms influenced by local cultures.
Cohousing is also considered as an alternative to solve issues caused by nuclear families and aging population. Meanwhile, co-living is drawing a lot of interest especially from the younger generation in an era when more and more people can work from anywhere so long as there’s Internet connection and under a contract that allows more freedom. The new generation is getting increasingly interested in co-living as they care about the balance between life and work and like the “working and traveling” lifestyle. High housing costs in big cities is also an important factor behind this trend.
Demographics / CCL 미적용, http://outsite.co/blog
According to an analysis that suggests a future outlook, by 2020, 40 percent of the population will be freelancers and Millennials or Generation Y want to work more flexibly. And the younger generation living in cities spend more than 50 percent of their income for housing. It is predicted that there will be about 1 billion digital nomads globally in 2035. All these numbers and predictions support the likelihood of growth of co-living.
In terms of physical space, co-living means many parts are shared as common areas. Residents can respect private space of individuals by improving the efficiency of common areas such as kitchen, dining room, and laundry room. Some co-living spaces have a space dedicated to co-working or networking.
In terms of contract conditions, more flexible membership plans such as day-to-day, week-to-week or month-to-month rental options are possible, as co-living values sharing and effective use of the space. Also there are some co-living services that have many locations around the world and give members access to a few locations.
MODELS OF CO-LIVING / CCL 미적용, http://outsite.co/blog
In terms of types, urban co-living is for people who seek efficiency against high housing costs in cities and want a new lifestyle. Co-living has many benefits: it enables more people to reside in a single space thanks to efficient use of shared areas; such efficient use of space also allows you to provide new additional services; and the community in the space help make the younger generation living in cities feel less lonely.
We are living in an environment where we can work from anywhere as long as there’s internet connection. There are various software programs that support it and many more are coming out even today. As a result, we are now seeing companies that are going well without requiring their employees sitting at the same office at the same time. More and more people are not going to office and instead are working remotely. These trends are leading to the birth of hybrid co-living spaces that support both working and living.
There are also co-living spaces for people who want even more freedom than those who want balance between work and life: co-living spaces for digital nomads. They combine work and traveling to meet new friends and travel around the world. Co-living spaces allow them feel less lonely since they can find people who work and live together anywhere in the world now. There are some communities where 10 to 30 digital nomads group to travel around the world together.
Let’s look over some co-living spaces in Korea and overseas with photos and descriptions.
WeLive (welive.com): A co-living service launched by WeWork which offers co-working service globally. It is an urban style co-living service.
fastcodesign.com / CCL 미적용
Roam (roam.co): Roam is a co-living service for digital nomads. It currently operates in Bali, Miami, and Madrid and is preparing to launch branches in Tokyo, San Francisco, London and Buenos Aires.
http://www.travelandleisure.com / CCL 미적용
Outsite(outsite.co): Outsite is a co-living space for a great work and leisure balance. It runs spaces in Santa Cruz, San Diego, and Lake Tahoe and is also preparing to open locations in Hawaii and Costa Rica.
http://outsite.co / CCL 미적용
Local Stitch (localstitch.kr): Local Stitch claims to be the first cultural complex that combines co-working and shared house. In this space, people can work freely as if they are traveling, interact with diverse people, and focus on their own work.
http://localstitch.kr / CCL 미적용
D-Well House (d-wellhouse.com): D-Well House is a community house for social innovators. They have a second location up and running and also run a networking program called “D-Well Salon.”
d-wellhouse.com / CCL 미적용
Share One (http://urbanhybrid.co.kr/biz/shareone/?ckattempt=1): Share One is an urban co-living space located in the Gangnam area which turns sharing lifestyle into reality.
urbanhybrid.co.kr / CCL 미적용
As a trend, co-living provides a nexus of many different topics from agriculture, culture, economy, housing, youth, to entrepreneurship that we can discuss together. I don’t expect co-living to become a trend adopted by everyone; rather, I think the fact that there are various options you can choose from depending on your lifestyle or path in your life will give much freedom to us all. And you can make a free choice for your own reason. I hope we see more interesting stories of people who live together at their free will for their own reasons.