By 2027 about 50% of the total U.S. workforce will be freelance, according to a study commissioned by Upwork and the Freelancers Union. Over the last few years co-working companies such as WeWork, Knotel, and Industrious Office have become phenomenally successful by tapping into the demand from freelancers for flexible office space as a service.
Recently, the success of the co-working business model has given birth to another trend: co-living.
What is co-living?
Co-living is a relatively new, modern housing concept where people with shared interests, goals, and objectives share living space. In one sense, the co-living concept is a disruption of the traditional affordable housing models that governments keep trying to solve with rent control.
Co-living vs. co-working
Co-living and co-working originally began as two separate concepts. But that’s quickly changing.
WeWork is beginning to provide co-living options in some of its co-working facilities. Airbnb for Work offers accommodations specifically for business travel. And Selina (a company that WeWork founder Adam Neumann is an investor in) has so far raised a total of $225 million to create a global network of living-coworking-activity spaces. Selina expects to surpass over $1 billion in funding during its next round of financing.
Why co-living is growing globally
There are a number of factors driving the demand for co-living space and investment.
Some are subjective, such as the enjoyment of living with other people who share similar personal and business interests. Co-living also creates a sense of belonging in a world that’s becoming increasingly disconnected.
Objective advantages of living where you work include engaging amenities, group activities, community support, and a reduced financial burden created by skyrocketing housing costs. Not to mention interesting locales in this country and around the world.
Examples of co-working + co-living
Outside: 18 locations in the U.S., Bali, Costa Rica, Lisbon, and Puerto Rico. The company provides work and living space, along with house managers to curate customized experiences for guests.
Roam: Co-working and co-living locations in San Francisco, Bali, Tokyo, and Miami. Founded in 2015, the company received $3.4 million in seed funding in 2016 and is in the process of expanding to London and New York City.
Sun and Co.: Located in the Spanish town of Jávea, it’s the first co-working and co-living space on the Mediterranean Coast. The company provides co-living space in a 19th-century house previously owned by one of Sun and Co.’s grandparents. The community is geared toward freelancers, solopreneurs, and start-up remote workers with a emphasis on work-life balance.
Mokrin House : Offering space to both individuals and teams, this co-working + co-living facility is located in Northern Serbia. Mokrin provides three homemade meals each day, and co-living space that has won awards for interior design, putting it on par with a 5-star hotel.
Spelkollektivet: Providing a niche within a niche, this co-working + co-living facility is specifically targeted to game developers around the world. Located in a small village in Sweden with just 950 residents, the company keeps rent as affordable as possible while including everything a game developer might need: three meals a day, office space, internet, and even consumables like shower gel and laundry detergent.
A trend worth watching
The number of co-living buildings has doubled over the last two years. There are currently about 130 co-living spaces worldwide, compared to about 20,000 co-working facilities around the globe. The combination of co-living and co-working is a trend that’s just beginning, but one that’s certainly worth watching for both freelances and investors alike.