Last edited 10 Sep 2021

Co living


The Collective Old Oak co living apartment block has over 500 apartments which have bedrooms and bathrooms, but all other spaces (including kitchens) are shared. It is an arrangement that is similar to student residences.


[edit] Introduction

Co living (also co-living or coliving) is a form of shared housing that is generally for three or more people who are residing in a city that might have high housing costs for single occupants. The concept is based on much older forms of communal living, including the ancient longhouses of early civilisations and some tenement housing from the 19th and 20th centuries.

[edit] Characteristics of co living

Modern co living is similar to student housing in that each resident has a private bedroom - and bathroom, in some instances - but it is for adults who are no longer in education. Shared areas typically include kitchens, dining rooms, work spaces and living or socialising zones that are fully furnished and may also include amenities (such as communal gyms and outdoor areas) that would not otherwise be affordable or available. Some arrangements also include cleaning services and individual leases, which can help to reduce conflicts over shared chores and bill paying within the household.

Occupants are usually not related to each other, but they may have shared aspirations or goals that provide the basis for a communal sensibility. Residents sometimes consider this option if they are working in a city that is new to them (or seeking work in an unfamiliar area) or seeking housing where certain parameters (such as shared interests with others) are a priority. It can also be more affordable than living alone and preferable to living with roommates in a more traditional arrangement.

The environment is intended to serve as a framework for group discussion and communal meals in shared areas. It can sometimes be seen as a more conservation-minded approach to living, since it is based on the idea of shared activities and resources. This can provide residents with a sense of belonging through collective activities that take place within the community.

[edit] Co living and coworking

For people accustomed to coworking (or Workplace as a Service), co living may have some similarities. In coworking, individuals or organisations rent space for a short period of time (typically in monthly slots) in a shared location. Office equipment, furnishings, utilities and other amenities (such as receptionists, postal services and cleaning) are provided by the leasing agent who may charge membership fees for these services.

Several individuals from the same organisation may cowork at the same location, but individuals from different organisations may work in the same place. As with co living, coworking may also create a sense of community amongst individuals who might otherwise feel isolated.

[edit] Co living vs cohousing

Co living is not to be confused with cohousing, which is another type of shared living arrangement. Cohousing, residents own or rent their own private homes, but there are communal outdoor spaces that provide opportunities for residents to grow food, participate in outdoor sport or play and to be close to nature. Shared indoor gathering spaces allow residents to meet, eat and socialise together.

Created and run by residents, cohousing developments are communities where people not only know their neighbours but actively manage their neighbourhood alongside them. They are small enough that everyone can be familiar with each other, but large enough not to force them to be.

Similar to co living, cohousing communities are built around a shared desire for a sense of belonging, neighbourliness and mutual support that many people feel is missing from modern life and contemporary housing developments. Residents are encouraged to be actively involved in running the community. Cohousing projects tend to have a strong focus on engendering more sustainable ways of living.

Additional differences are summarised in the table below, based on information from Co-living and co-housing – What’s the difference?

Co living Cohousing
Bedroom Private Private
Kitchen Shared Private
Living room Shared Private
Bathroom Private or shared Private
Short term options Yes No
Rental options Yes Maybe
Communal governance No Probably
Work areas Shared Probably shared
Guest rooms Yes Yes
Dining room Shared Private or shared
Communal garden Possibly Yes

In addition to co living and cohousing there are other communal living models including communes and collectives. These arrangements are formed by residents who may share interests or beliefs and wish to make economic and social decisions together.

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[edit] External resources

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