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Coliving takes centre stage: 5 key developments in the sector

Coliving is in the spotlight for all the right reasons. The sector is welcoming more diverse demographics to more diverse units. It’s increasing its share of the urban housing market and providing a literal home for disaffected private renters. It's addressing wider social concerns and quite rightly getting the positive praise it deserves. 

Bringing together insights from Savills 2023 UK Co-Living Report and Co-Founder of Conscious Coliving Dr Penny Clark’s presentation at July’s Urban Living Festival, here are our five coliving key developments that explain why coliving is taking centre stage. 

  1. Coliving comes in all shapes and sizes

There’s no one size fits all in coliving. While large scale purpose built housing (LSPBH) remains the most common offering - think 100+ private units with communal kitchens and amenities - both developers and operators are putting their own original stamp on the concept of communal living. Some are scaling down with cluster flats and pods, while others are creating mixed-use units targeting specific customer types, such as digital nomads or students. Operators are even offering a variety of house sharing and coliving models under one brand identity. 

Given coliving property management software enables operators to sell the same unit in multiple different ways - i.e. short-term lets and long-term tenancies - operators effectively have carte blanche with how they want to set up and run their spaces. And that’s exactly what they’re doing. 

  1. Demographics depend on location

Coliving’s core market is recent graduates and young professionals, but they’re not the only ones attracted by flexibility, community and simplicity (i.e. just one monthly bill). Expats are also a key segment with international residents making up 35% of Dandi’s Wembley development. Older residents aged 40+ account for 12% of The Collective residents with coliving’s flexible and communal offering especially suited to widowers and divorcees. Location is the main determinant of resident demographic. For instance, coliving developments outside of city centres with strong employment opportunities and vibrant social scenes are more likely to attract residents that are relocating to a new city as it’s easier to put down roots. 

Operators are using tech tools to curate communities of like-minded individuals and cater for specific demographics. Channel managers, for example, enable operators to target specific age-groups (i.e. students or seniors), while online booking software facilitates virtual tours to potential residents, so that expats can get a feel for the community, rooms and spaces without even a physical viewing.

  1. Coliving: putting the S in ESG. 

The clue is in the name, but the community focus of coliving holds much stronger social benefits than more private-focused living segments like build to rent (BTR). Coliving helps tackle loneliness and improves residents’ mental well-being (i.e. res:harmonics client The Collective found coliving improved the social life of 71% of residents). Coliving organises local community and volunteering opportunities to improve the surrounding area. Coliving minimises carbon footprint per household and contributes to social mobility by giving young people the chance to thrive away from home. 

With resident communication tools, such as white label guest apps, arranging social initiatives has never been easier. Operators can set up community programmes (i.e. wellness sessions on the roof), allowing residents to sign-up and then keeping them updated in real-time. Instant collaboration has also enabled operators like Kley to give residents an annual vote on the social issues they want to address. 

  1. The UK regions catch up with London

London is one of the world’s leading coliving cities. Its almost 3,000 operational coliving beds make up 82% of the UK total. Now the regions are catching-up – Savills research showed there are currently 6,879 beds in construction or with planning permission outside of London (more than London’s 6,176 beds) and 4,797 beds at pre-planning stage (London has 3,747 beds). Of the 22,000 UK coliving beds in the pipeline, the majority are taking place in regional cities like Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham, as well as smaller markets like Guildford, Reading and Brighton. In Exeter, operators are even adapting to local demands by providing larger coliving rooms for seniors. 

With coliving management software enabling remote operations of multiple sites, it’s never been easier for operators to scale across the country. For example, operators can schedule housekeeping rotas and resolve emergency maintenance requests across their portfolio, allocating tasks to the most suitable staff member (for quicker results) and keeping track of progress via an app. 

  1. Coliving takes advantage of current housing market failings

With more tenants turning away from the traditional housing market thanks to high house and rental prices compounded by high inflation and interest rates, coliving has stepped up to the plate as an attractive alternative. But coliving is not simply catching disaffected renters. It’s about actively enticing them with flexible leases, all-inclusive bills, central locations and extensive amenities. 

This demand and supply disparity has led to pre-let waiting lists and leases filling up quickly (i.e. Dandi Wembley leased all of its 360 beds in three months), with operators using dedicated coliving tech to handle an influx of viewings, contracts, inventories and verifications before residents move in. 

A perfect storm

Take all those developments together - an increasing number of multi-purpose units across multiple regions with high demand from a variety of demographics and wide-ranging social benefits - and you can see why the coliving sector is in rude health. 

To take advantage of these favourable conditions, operators need coliving property management software that’s specifically suited to the unique demands of running and growing a coliving business. Download the Ultimate Guide to Coliving Management Software 2023 to learn how property management software supports coliving operators.

Request a demo to speak to someone at res:harmonics about how our coliving software can automate and scale up your coliving business. 

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