To avoid nosy landlords, errant maids and housework, millennials prefer co-living rather than renting
Not being fixated on permanent roommates helps people to learn new things and can be great for introverts
When Prianka Agarwal, 28, moved to Bengaluru from Salem, she didn’t want to deal with the rigidity of a 11-month lease restriction while renting an apartment. Since she wasn’t sure how long she would be living in Bengaluru, she was averse to any such contracts. The other hassle she wanted to avoid was the stress of disposing off her belongings, something she had done when she have lived in a apartment as a student. When she heard about co-living spaces in Bengaluru, she decided to give it a shot. A year later, Agarwal, who works as a client serving manager with an event management company, is quite happy with her choice.
“One of the big hassles when staying alone is finding a maid who understands Hindi or Tamil. But here, housekeeping is provided for, as are all amenities," says Agarwal, who lives in StayAbode, a co-living service provider in Bengaluru.
For Tanvi Vyas, 21, who is living away from home for the first time, the fully furnished apartment, along with a maid and cook, gave her a feel of home. Vyas, who is doing her CA apprenticeship with BDO India, an accounting, tax and advisory multinational company, lives in a triple-sharing room in one of the Gurugram properties of CoHo, another co-living service provider.
From co-working spaces, the millennial workforce is now warming to the concept of co-living spaces, where they pay only for their own bedroom with private bathroom, in most cases, and amenities, rather than paying for the less used areas of a flat—living room and kitchen. While the concept may seem similar to the conventional sharing of an apartment, the differentiator is living in a “serviced" apartment with proximity to highly dense work areas. There is no restriction on minimum stay duration and no hassle of dealing with landlords and their strict conditions. According to a January report by Knight Frank, a real estate consultancy, 56% of millennials between the age group of 18-23 years showed interest in a co-living space. The survey was done in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad and Delhi NCR. Even PropTiger, an online real estate advisory firm, indicates that the segment has the potential to become a $93 billion market.
Almost all co-living spaces harp on their properties encouraging a spirit of community. When Ashish Nigam, 28, a product manager, moved to Bengaluru from Gurugram, he opted for a co-living space instead of renting, simply because he wanted to make new friends. “I didn’t know anyone here, so I wanted to be in a comfortable place and also make new friends," says Nigam, who lived at The Hub on Infantry Road in Bengaluru, on the recommendation of his friends for about seven months. During his stay, he met students on exchange programmes, psychologists and production managers, people he would not have met otherwise.
Like Nigam, Prasad Korrapati, 30, who is a senior engineer with Accolade Software Solutions, says he too has met many interesting people thanks to co-living. “Some time back, I had a flatmate who was from UP. He was a fresher looking for a job. So, I would help him by taking mock interviews," says Korrapati, who lives in QuikrHomes’ Marathahalli property in Bengaluru. Korrapati, who hails from Vijayawada, says he learnt Kannada thanks to one of his co-living partners, who has since moved.
Not being fixated on permanent roommates helps people to learn new things and can be great for introverts who have to go out of their way to make new buddies every time someone moves out. Hrishikesh Bharadwaj, who has stayed for a year-and-a-half at StayAbode Bengaluru’s BTM Layout property, now has many new friends. Bharadwaj, who is a senior cloud analyst with the HR team of an IT company, says the idea of meeting new people and building contacts has made him stay put in a co-living flat.
“I had the opportunity to move out but I didn’t because this way I don’t have to see the same three-four people daily. I want to talk to people who are from varied backgrounds, and I can experiment with my living space since I am still young," he says.
Expense vs convenience
The top priorities for millennials while looking for an apartment, as indicated by the Knight Frank report, was proximity to office and social infrastructure; only for 5% the rentals costs took top precedence. While some service providers are expensive, co-livers unanimously agree that the amenities far outweigh the cost. The room cost ranges from ₹30,000 for single occupancy to ₹10,000 per month for triple occupancy.
Vyas pays ₹12,500 for a triple-sharing room at CoHo in Gurugram, which includes two meals, 1.5 GB Wi-Fi per person, an air conditioner, access to washing machine, TV, fridge, purified water, and a coffee/tea/ soup machine. “It’s a bit expensive but if you consider the amenities it’s okay. I don’t have fixed working hours and when I return home, I don’t have to bother with any house chores. The place is very clean and hygienic," says Vyas.
Once a week, CoHo also organizes events like comedy night, beauty salon services and so on. Since all the residents in her co-living space are young, professional women, the security is high.
But even in co-ed co-living spaces, women aren’t afraid. A few months ago, Agarwal had a male flatmate. “We had no issues with him because we all knew him. He was living in another flat in the building but had been placed here temporarily," she says. Even the community manager (each StayAbode property has one) ensures that the female residents are comfortable with the male residents before the latter are allocated flats. Agarwal pays ₹16,500 for a twin-sharing room in a 3BHK flat. Her room has a balcony with a “great view", attached bathroom, TV with Tata Sky HD connection, Wi-Fi, maid, plumber, carpenter and electrician on call with no extra charges. An independent 3BHK newly built furnished apartment in the same area would come to about ₹45,000, she says. “What I am paying is a very good deal," says Agarwal.
However, Nigam, who was living in a single occupancy double bedroom for ₹30,000, felt the rent was steep considering residents had to pay extra for food. He moved out eventually and is living in a conventional arrangement of renting a 3BHK apartment with a few of this friends.
Living with a diverse group of strangers where residents don’t have a fixed duration of stay, establishing long-lasting relationships may become a challenge. And when you don’t know people well, adjusting to temperaments can be an issue.
“You have to deal with different personalities. For instance, you neighbour may have called a few friends and is having a party but the noise level bothers you. You can only tell him or her once to reduce the volume but if he doesn’t listen to you, you can’t do much," says Bharadwaj.
Korrapati says the key is to have a lot of patience. At least that’s what he learnt. “Everyone’s mindset and hygiene level may not be the same. You have to learn to mingle with people," he says.