A common question I am being asked at present is “what is the impact of COVID-19 on Co-Living?”.
All “living” asset types (Student, Multifamily, Senior, Co-Living) have had to adapt their management regime to safeguard the health and safety of their residents. The measures are dialled up or down depending on the specific property and the demographic of the residents.
In the short-term, operators are temporarily closing shared spaces so social distancing guidelines are respected. This has stimulated a concern from some investors about the concept of sharing spaces, although they also acknowledge that lockdown and social distancing won’t last forever.
Residential assets are proving resilient to COVID-19, with our Multifamily clients still reporting very high occupancy levels. Our Co-Living clients are also reporting a healthy level of new bookings even during lockdown.
Despite the obvious wellbeing concerns of living in a small studio during lockdown, there are also some advantages of Co-Living versus other types of residential for residents:
1. The Co-Living operating model is hospitality focused. On-site staff and app-based communication for each building can provide genuine support to residents, such as centralised ordering and distribution of food deliveries, medical assistance, and regular contact to monitor wellbeing.
2. Studios are easier to keep clean; you don’t have flatmates in your private space.
3. Co-Living operators create active communities within their buildings. This means virtual social gatherings, online exercise classes, and support groups, to name a few. All these are important for single person households facing loneliness and isolation during lockdown.
4. Co-Working is built in to most Co-Living developments. These spaces offer superior “work from home” facilities and will help a smoother transition back to traditional offices, especially if commuting by public transport is challenging for the foreseeable future.
Co-Living is the younger sibling of Student Accommodation and Multifamily living. The resilience shown by these established asset types over the long term is likely to attract more investment in residential to rent of all types, including Co-Living.
Investment opportunities into Co-Living are development focused which means potential longer term changes triggered by COVID-19 can be incorporated into the next generation of building designs.
Co-Living is more than a housing product and its appeal to residents is built on a change in the way people are choosing to live. There has been a steady shift in human behaviours and desires during the past few years; people are choosing community, wellbeing, sustainability and experiences.
The world has pivoted even more strongly towards these ideals during the pandemic. They will become embedded in our psyche as we reflect on what we have learned during 2020. Co-Living is here to stay.