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Why young Indian professionals are making the shift to co-living

Real estate is booming and rentals more so. (iStockphoto)
Real estate is booming and rentals more so. (iStockphoto)

Summary

Lower rents and deposits, fewer restrictions and networking opportunities make co-living an attractive option.

Real estate is booming and rentals more so. With companies now driving back the workforce to office post the covid pandemic, renting houses in metros has become a nightmarish experience. This is particularly true in Bengaluru, where landlords even check your Linkedin profile before signing a rental agreement. Tenants also have to deposit a big advance and pay brokerage fees before moving in.

A 2BHK apartment in Sarjapur Road, Whitefield and the outskirts of Bengaluru commands a minimum rent of 27,000 per month (see graphic). Maintenance costs are separate. Tenants have to deposit up to 10 months of rent in advance. The rents are almost similar in many parts of Delhi-NCR, including Noida, but you need to pay just two months rent in advance. Mumbai is pricier; in areas like Mulund and Chembur, tenants need to shell out at least 50,000 per month and five times the amount in deposit 

Graphic:  Mint
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Graphic: Mint

With steep rents cutting deep into their pay packets, younger professionals are left with no choice but to hunt for cheaper accommodation and co-living is emerging as a favourite. Co-living platforms allow tenants to book rooms instantly and without any hassles. There is no brokerage fee and the deposit is usually just one month worth of rent. Rents are in the range of 15,000-20,000 per person (see graphic).

Start-ups like Zolo, Stanza, HelloWorld, Nestaway, etc., offer shared accommodation across multiple properties— 2BHK, 3BHK and even 1BHK studio apartments.

“Millennials and younger professionals require well-managed facilities. They don’t want cheap hostels or the costliest 1BHKs in metro cities. So, they prefer co-living," says Swapnil Anil, executive director and head-advisory services, Colliers India.

The co-living facilities have several advantages. For instance, they let tenants download rent receipts from their apps that helps them claim house rent allowance easily.

Mint spoke with some young professionals on what pushed them to opt for co-living spaces.

Proximity to office

Rohan Takalkar, 30, from Pune, started looking for rental accommodation in Bengaluru after joining a fintech start-up there. Takalkar says he was shocked when the landlords demanded deposits in the range of 1.5-2 lakh.

He didn’t mind sharing a 2BHK apartment but was averse to the idea of bearing the full rent in case his roommate was to shift elsewhere. He would have to pay the full rent till a new tenant was found. There were other costs as well: brokerage, new furniture, wifi connection, etc.

That’s when Takalkar came across co-living facilities. He was able to find a 2BHK in a co-living property near his office. Apart from it being at a walkable distance from his workplace, what he liked about the facility was the low deposit requirement and quick booking.

“Had I been looking for a regular apartment, it would have taken me some time to find a suitable place. But here, I just needed to pay 16,000 as deposit, which was equivalent to one month of rent. There was an additional one-time booking fee of 1,000," he says.

He adds he shares a 500 sq. ft room in a spacious 2BHK. He and his roommate have a separate cupboard to keep their belongings. Additionally, the apartments are fully furnished and come equipped with a microwave, television set, refrigerator, induction cooker, etc. There is a common area where tenants can access the washing machines. The apartments are cleaned regularly. Tenants can raise service requests on the property management app and Takalkar says these are addressed promptly.

Takalkar is happy with the savings made through co-living. He also loves the opportunity to socialize and network in such a setting. “I share a good rapport with my neighbours who are working in another fintech. Also, my roommates are from different states like Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. So, you get some exposure to other cultures," he adds.

Preet Singhvi, 24, a finance professional, was wary of the high rental costs of Mumbai. So, he decided to give co-living a try. While there are not as many co-living options in Mumbai, Singhvi found a pod-based concept close to his office. The property has two air-conditioned rooms with 24 bunk beds each. It offered free Wifi connection.

The property, a couple of kilometers away from Singhvi’s office, is used by several corporate executives because of its proximity to three corporate parks. “The place is quite neat and tidy. We even had foreign tourists staying here," he adds.

Singhvi says his home city Surat was just two-and-half-hours of train journey from Mumbai and his office was in hybrid work mode (work from home was allowed for a few days every week). “So, I would work from home on Mondays. I would reach my office on Tuesdays from Surat. I would book a bunk for Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On Thursday evening after office, I would again leave for Surat via train and then work from home on Fridays," Singhvi says.

He says it costs 1,000-1,500 to book a pod for the night. On an average, he spent 10,000 every month on accommodation. Singhvi has now found a job in Surat.

Co-living for women

Swati Sisoudiya, 27, who works at a real estate research firm and shifted to Bengaluru from Gurugram three months ago, was looking for an all-girls PG (paying guest) accommodation. But she didn’t like the amenities at these properties. “There was no air-conditioning and the places were not managed well," she says.

She then opted for a co-living space—a double occupancy air-conditioned room with attached bathroom. The rent is 17,500 per month and she had to pay one month’s rent as deposit. Her room is furnished with a double bed, sofa, two cupboards, a television set and Wifi connection. Her office is located barely 2km from the place.

The rent is inclusive of breakfast and dinner. There is also a common mess that tenants can use for cooking and a common area to access washing machines. As of now, the rent includes power charges but, Sisoudiya says, it might be charged separately from next month as the government has raised the power tariff.

“There is also regular maintenance and cleaning of the place. We can always raise service requests on their app," she adds.

Co-living for live-in couples

Prabhu Pradhan, 25, an AI (artificial intelligence) researcher, could not find a suitable apartment in Bengaluru because he had a live-in partner. He had used a co-living facility in Germany during his stay there for three years from 2019 to 2022 and so was open to staying in such properties. He finally found a studio apartment near his office where they didn’t have any restrictions on tenants living with their partners (gender-neutral accommodation).

Pradhan, who hails from Lucknow, says the rent and deposit were both light on the pocket. “We were paying 22,000 per month and the deposit was just one month’s rent," he says.

Apart from this, the apartment was fully furnished and included a microwave and refrigerator, etc. The wifi connection was also included. There was also a power back-up system and electricity costs were separately shared. There was a common area for a washing machine that all tenants could use. He says he was able to book the property in a couple of days and had to pay a one-time booking fee of just 1,000.

Pradhan recently shifted to a regular 2BHK apartment which allowed him to stay with his partner. “The studio apartment was too small. We finally found an apartment after searching for one for the last five-six months, " Pradhan says.

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