We've started to embrace a more flexible approach to work and life, becoming accustomed to the many stylish and inspiring coworking spaces popping up in every area of London. We're even getting used to seeing coworking spaces that offer desks and then some: personal trainers, roofs to relax on, nurseries to help with our childcare woes.
So it's only natural that co-living is the next big thing to happen to Londoners.
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. Some, like The Collective's impressive new Canary Wharf space, offer hotel facilities and flexibility in terms of staying time (book in for a night or stay for a year).
Co-living has its detractors, but it has also been posited as a remedy to some of the biggest real estate issues we're facing, from extortionate housing prices to social isolation (see multigenerational co-housing community, Marmalade Lane, in Cambridge). You can even buy into some co-living spaces to get on the property ladder.
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.
You can also live out the college dorm life experience all over again - or for the first time, although most of these co-living setups look like a more minimalist and sustainable version of Melrose Place than a Brutalist housing building.
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 and shared living spaces to know about in London.
The Collective Canary Wharf. Photo: Ed Reeve
The co-living space that's partly responsible for the appeal of co-living (this is the company behind nearly 9,000 co-living housing units in the UK alone), The Collective's north London (Old Oak) 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 stunning Canary Wharf building, which opened in October 2019, is now the largest co-living building in the world, and offers members everything from panoramic skyline views of London to fine dining (there's 150-top high rise restaurant, Mthr) to pool, gym and sauna, as well as a Masterchef-style kitchen, surround-sound cinema and VR golf.
Flexibility is key to its success; many are treating the destination as a hotel, since you can book in for one night (from £87.40).
'At The Collective, our members enjoy the convenience of flexible living without the normal frustrations of a flatshare (e.g. sharing bathrooms or battles over bills). But where we see us having the biggest impact is by making it really easy for people to make new friends and feel like they belong to a thriving community.
'We achieve this through an amazing programme of daily events and other initiatives that help turn our buildings into homes, many of which are driven by the members themselves," explains Ed Thomas, Head of Customer Experience.
'With our newest building in Canary Wharf, we’ve been able to expand on this success and bring the concept of co-living not only to our long-term members, but also to short-stay guests too, in a thoughtfully designed space with being part of a community still at its heart.
Mason + Fifth's Italian Building
Mason + Fifth
This newly opened co-living space in Bermondsey known as The Italian Building has 28 studio apartments and a wellness agenda that aims to 'strengthen communities and boost well-being from the inside out'.
From meditation workshops and running and supper clubs, to waterfall showers and plant-filled spaces (there's a garden residents are invited to nurture), Mason + Fifth's ethos is all about ensuring wellness of mind, body and spirit, and building community around that. You can even book in for a 1:1 with a nutritionist, or just veg out in the home cinema space. Look out for another location opening in Marylebone.
Gravity Co-Living's Finsbury Park space
Ideal for young professionals, this eco-friendly, co-living group with buildings in Finsbury Park, Hounslow and Camden places an emphasis on meaningful social interactions that can lead to career networking opportunities or collaborations (there's a co-working space on site).
Gravity is a good fit for those moving to London from a different city or country: when you book in, there's a move in buddy to show you the ropes and tell you about what you can expect. The location is easy for commuters to access, the space is furnished stylishly and - better yet - you can book in for short, fixed periods.
Prices range from £1,050 - £1,650 p/m.
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 city is a lot more appealing if you've got Vonder to help you connect: a lifestyle platform, Vonder has furnished flats in London, Berlin, Warsaw and Dubai, 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.
They're opening in Dublin, Paris, Barcelona and Budapest soon.
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, from £1,000 a month.
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 (that's yoga your pooch can join too) 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 on birthdays and a tree at Christmas.
LifeX, which has co-living spaces in destinations from Copenhagen to Paris, combines Nordic sensibility and design (wood! plants! natural light!) with the social element of co-living and is a recent arrival to the London real estate scene (they've got a few locations across London, from Brixton to Dalston).
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.