Co-living and shared living spaces in London
Co-living might just be London's biggest housing trend right now. Combining innovative housing with a sense of community, these co-living and shared living spaces offer something new.
Just like the coworking space allows people to rent an office as well as creating natural networking opportunities and mentoring and skills-building workshops, co-living offers individuals more than just a home: it's a lifestyle, a social network and an opportunity to connect with others in increasingly isolating urban environments - which appeals to both 20-somethings and older generations.
Co-living (or shared living communities), team private living spaces (typically a smallish bedroom) with communal living facilities like shared kitchens and common areas.
Typically, co-living housing costs less than your usual rent, saves you the stress of having to deal with separate payments for all bills and amenities (all costs are usually included, as well as house cleaning), and many spaces offer flexibility in terms of short or long-term leases. You can spend a summer in London living (and working) in a co-living space - they're all kitted out with high-speed Wi-Fi and desk areas so you can work on-site.
Some have compared the co-living experience to college dorm life (although most of these setups look like a more minimalist and sustainable version of Melrose Place), and many believe it can help remedy some of the biggest real estate issues we're facing, from extortionate housing prices to social isolation (you can even buy into some co-living spaces to get on the property ladder).
Opposite Office's proposed redesign of Buckingham Palace. Credit: Benedikt Hartl, Opposite Office
In fact, Munich-based architecture firm Opposite Office has proposed their solution to London's housing crisis - and what might be the best co-living space yet: turning Buckingham Palace into shared housing for 50,000 people to co-live with the Queen (there are 775 rooms and 79 bathrooms, after all!).
Until that becomes a reality, here are the co-living companies to know about in London.
Noaiscape's Garden House
Noiascape, the brainchild of architects Tom and James Teatum, creates shared 'city in a building' spaces that use interesting, minimalist materials (birch plywood furniture and joinery meet metal, concrete and lots of natural light) to encourage tenants to embrace their time at home, as well as engaging with the larger community through events across the Noiascape network. The spaces, like Hammersmith's Garden House (pictured), are designed in open, interconnected ways to maximise social time and work-from-home productivity but also allow for private space without restricting residents to their rooms.
Settling into a new European city is a lot more appealing if you've got Vonder to help you connect: a lifestyle platform, Vonder has furnished flats in Berlin and London and also offers a range of social events like pilates, smoothie-making, pop-up tattoo parlours and language classes to help like-minded folk connect with one another.
A shared living community, Lyvly is about establishing connections and friendships beyond your home, that extend through your neighbourhood and across the city you live in (from house dinners to larger-scale London hangs, Lyvly community ambassadors organise events so you can meet those living across London and create lasting bonds that aren't determined by the building you happen to be in). You'll find housing across London: Vauxhall, Dalston, Stratford, Greenwich, Lewisham and more.
With its 'reinventing renting' slogan, Fizzy Living's 1000+ London homes provide tenants with some fab perks: property managers known as Bobs (think of them as somewhere between a uni RA and a NYC apartment building super - they're there for emotional and practical support), pet-friendly accommodation, an app to organise social events and book dry cleaning, on-site socials like games nights and DOGA on the rooftop and communal spaces with added benefits, like drinks stations that are replenished daily - perfect for those who work where they sleep.
With four locations in southeast London (SE9 and SE6), Pollen's fully furnished homes are designed to take the hassle out of modern living (rent includes council tax, utilities, house cleaning, gardening, maintenance and quick-speed broadband), and are well-suited to young professionals. Forget about any London landlord horror stories; the experience at Pollen is quite the opposite. Landlord Pip is known to pop over with pizza and drinks for birthdays and a tree at Christmas.
Due to open in London in a few months, LifeX, which has co-living spaces in destinations from Vienna to Paris, combines a Nordic sensibility and design (wood! plants! natural light!) with the social element of co-living - in addition to flexible stay options that allow you to move in within days and out within a month, and multiple weekly house cleans, you can tap into a global network of people to socialise and hang with. LifeX turns big central-city area flats into co-living homes for four-to-eight people for the closest thing you'll find to a real-life Friends experience.
The co-living space that's partly responsible for the appeal of co-living (this is the company behind 8,000 co-living housing units in the UK alone), The Collective's west London and Canary Wharf locations combine co-working, wellness and cultural events with living spaces to create homes you'll want to do everything in. The Collective Old Oak really has it all: rooftop terrace, spa and sauna, movie nights, gym, zen secret garden, library, themed dining rooms... No wonder The Collective's appealing co-living ethos has seamlessly moved across the Atlantic, with offerings in NYC and now Miami.
With properties across London, especially in the southwest - Wimbledon, Clapham, Tooting, Fulham - UrbanShared offers young professionals a room of their own, shared communal spaces and monthly all-inclusive costs of £800 - a potential savings of hundreds a month. A mobile app facilitates daily house admin and larger social events. Housemates can also move between UrbanShared properties within a couple of weeks.
Formerly in the co-living space, Norn merits inclusion because they've taken the social aspect of co-living and run with it, and now operate as an offline social network where members meet for guided discussions on weighty topics like Existentialism or Spirituality. Somewhere between a mindfulness session and an intellectual pursuit, Norn encourages participants to be open in ways they might not be even with close friends and family members, with sessions open to all Londoners.