A large house with a garden. You can smell Italian food from the kitchen, when you walk along the room on the first floor, you can hear Arabian music, you can see an Indian and a Spaniard through the window doing yoga on the terrace, there is an American girl sitting on the sofa skyping with her parents, and a Brazilian is leaving for work. Where are we, you ask? In a standard co-living, similar to many others in Stockholm. Slowly, they are also starting to appear in Central Europe.
Co-living is a modern form of living, with inhabitants sharing some rooms (usually the kitchen and living/community room) and the interest in a more open way of life in a community. It is suitable for urban types that want to be in the centre of action for a fair price. Most often, this form of roof over the head is attractive for young people in the age of twenty to forty. This is quite logical, as it is this group that often looks for temporary living, whether it be for a few weeks or for the whole year.
Naturally, the advantage of co-living is its price. That can vary also depending on how much the given person is involved in caring for the shared spaces. A commonly used rule is that who does not clean pays more, and who does clean, pays less.
However, compared to the standard rent, this can be more favourable, and it means a lower level of commitment for a young person. While in the case of a standard rent, you have to sign a contract for at least a year (not many landlords will offer you a shorter rental period), you can stay in co-living even for a much shorter period of time. That is why it is used mainly by people that are not settled down yet and are considering, for instance, work or study abroad. Or those who simply do not want to commit – to a certain flat or their parents.
44% of people 20–40 years of age who do not own a piece of real estate, currently live in a house/flat of their parents.Source: Exclusive survey made by the FOCUS agency for Lucron
She drew inspiration from her fellow residents
“I chose co-living when I returned from abroad after a longer period of time. I was starting out as a freelancer, and this form of living was recommended to me by an acquaintance,” Gabika (30) explains, who lived in a co-living in Brno. Back then she was 26 years old, and she decided to move to a house with five housemates to get inspiration from them and to learn how to work effectively outside of the office, too. “All housemates were entrepreneurs, self-employed or freelancers. This was a sort of community, and we also tried to have some common events there. We got to know each other, two people even became a couple. We spent time together and we occasionally helped each other out with work as well, because we worked in similar areas,” the marketer remembered. “The house had two floors, everybody had their own room, we had two bathrooms and an open plan kitchen and living room, where we could work comfortably. I lived there for three months. I would stay even longer, but I left for Bratislava for work. But every time I came to Brno after that, I went to visit.”
Reception, laundry room and “family” dinners
If we were to compare co-living to something, it would be a hotel. Similarly to a hotel, some co-livings include a reception or a laundry room. However, in contrast to a hotel, fewer people live there and what is most important, they have closer relationships.
When someone mentions “close relationships,” “building a community” or “community living,” some people immediately start thinking about the hippies or even religious sects living in large, closed communities. But co-living is none of that. It is a result of the trend which is increasingly pronounced in Western countries – people do not want to close themselves off in their houses and own everything.
Living with people of a similar age in a large house, a converted hotel or guest house, which is common abroad, is different from renting a flat together with classmates during university. The main difference are the rules. “From 10 PM to 7 AM, due to noise, we did not use the dishwasher or sit in the living room to talk to others. We could have alcohol in the house, but there was a rule that you cannot drink it inside. So if you brought a bottle of wine to your room that you later wanted to take to a dinner with friends at their place, it was OK,” explains Avinash from India, who has lived in Stockholm for 6 years.
Roof over the head thanks to the aroma of turmeric
“I am a very extroverted and social person. Co-living was a wonderful experience that taught me patience and empathy,” remembers Avi, a telecommunication network engineer, who got to the co-living thanks to Indian food. He remembers it now with laughter: “First I slept on the couch for a week to get to know the others, and to allow them to find out whether they would accept me among themselves and whether I get a room. Every time I cooked something during the week, I made more and offered it to the others. They fell in love with Indian food so much that they couldn’t imagine that I wouldn’t cook it for them.”
However, as he adds, co-living hasn’t always been a walk in the park: “Some housemates worked as bartenders, so during the weekends, they came from work in the early morning. When someone else was making a smoothie in a blender at nine in the morning and woke them up, the battle was on. Then the rules had to change.”
For instance, in the United States, this form of shared living is often used by groups of people with similar interests or areas of work. Thus, there are houses of “coders” or “creatives.” The tenants not only live with one another, but they also help each other with work. Or they simply inspire each other.
Communities of friends – those who had known each other already or those who will only get acquainted in the co-living – replace family to a certain extent. All the tenants are usually far away from home. Privacy is ensured, but at the same time, after work, you can return to familiar faces, have a “family” dinner together or play a board game.
- As a rule, the tenants share a kitchen, a living/community room and other services like a reception, a laundry room, etc.; they do not own the property
- This is a temporary form of living suitable for several weeks or years
- It is used mainly by younger people who do not want to commit to a property
- It is located in the city, offering good accessibility