Why Millennials use Serviced Accommodation and Shared Living | A Millennial’s opinion
We all heard it many times. Millennials and Gen Zs in large cities, where salaries stay stagnant and rents keep increasing, are forced to work outside the regular office hours and live longer with their friends. So they resort to shared living.
In the last 5 to 6 years, this trend sparked a massive development of the sector of serviced accommodations and shared living. The segment offers a solution to these issues. It is spreading in large European capitals, where higher education, as well as an active and innovative work environment, are already in full force. This phenomenon has two roots though. One, as mentioned, is economic, the second is social.
Research, in fact, claim that people constantly travelling and living in big cities, where professional life is the daily focus, often suffer from loneliness. Especially those digital nomads used to work from remote on a computer and having as a consequence even fewer direct working relationships.
As for me, I am a Millennial and I also design serviced accommodations. That’s why I decided to ask myself this question: “Are serviced accommodations a real need for my generation? Do they enhance our lives as developers claim?”. My answer is clearly yes, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this for a living.
First of all, what is the difference between the two types of purpose-built developments?
The serviced accommodation is usually a flat whose building includes a number of additional services at a monthly fee, such as the gym and 24-hour concierge. The shared living concept takes it a step further. Very often, along with these amenities, a co-living has significantly reduced private spaces, in favour of communal areas: dining rooms, kitchens, cinema rooms, etc.
Interestingly, shared living and student living development concepts often overlap in some aspects. As it happens for serviced and shared accommodations. It is not only about the amenities and facilities provided, but about how designers conceive the spaces to achieve the main objective: encouraging the growth of a community, while still supporting people’s creativity and individuality.
How has this market evolved so far?
Today, with a consistent number of developments already operative, the shared living accounts for a significant part of the housing market. Northern Europe is at the forefront of this new wave. According to JLL, as of 2019, London and Amsterdam together represent over 40% of the entire market.
I know I’m biased here, but I love the fact that cool interiors are often an integral part of these spaces. The design of each area has to be functional and flexible to suit different moods and needs. With the right design, it can also gain such a distinctive style that people will feel part of the community. They don’t just look pretty, shared living and serviced accommodations sell a lifestyle.
An important component of serviced accommodations’ and especially shared living’s success is, in fact, also up to estate managers and the activities they organise to favour this new lifestyle. Naturally, these may vary significantly depending on the size of a co-living space. They range from regular converted buildings to huge developments specifically designed for this single purpose. Regardless, the main trend is the focus on health and wellbeing both physical and mental. Estate management companies guide the community that flourishes in these spaces toward a healthier way of living.
My take on the ‘Community’ topic
As a new business owner, I decided too to set my company up in a co-working. For a small start-up, having a community around you can make a huge difference. The reality is that, for the first 8 months of A Designer At Heart, it was just me and Aga. Now, a year and a half later, we are still a small four people team. Could you imagine how alienating would have been to share a tiny office just the two of us for months?
Without even touching the topic of having to deal with bills, buying office furniture and so on. Especially, when you don’t even know if your business is going to make it to the next 3 months!
Instead, we spent our days in a beautiful, spacious, clean and bright shared office. Here, we could decide to work on our desks or near the café. On cosy sofas or more privately in a booth with view on the city centre. We also met our current accountant and many other friends. Choosing to share our office space with other people made a huge difference for the better.
My answer is yes, serviced accommodations enhance your life on many levels but (there is a but) it doesn’t mean that you should use them forever.
As Reza Merchant CEO of the Collective, one of the largest Co-living development and management companies said in an interview with the Financial Times: “This is a transitional product — it’s not somewhere you’re going to live for the rest of your life” (FT).
What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them. Have you ever lived or worked in a serviced building? What was your experience like?
Let us know in the comments!
Cover image ©Roundhill Capital