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Co-living is a new housing trend; multiple households renting or owning larger single properties together. How  are the rules of homeownership being rewritten?

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Vancouver, Canada came out of nowhere in the mid-’80s and stunned the world by becoming one of the fastest-rising urban centers on the planet. Today, only Hong Kong is a more expensive housing market, and it’s making those who love Vancouver have to get creative on how to keep living there.

Tired of being priced out of life, smart-thinking folks in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are opting out of the old “apartment” mindset and instead sharing vacant mansions realtors have trouble offloading, and splitting the rent amongst them. “Co-living” is happening all over the continent, but Vancouver’s taking it to a new scale.

Co-living as a rising trend

Take this story for example: $5-million, 7,500-square-foot home, with 6 bedrooms,4 bathrooms, 1 acre of land on the waterfront, 6 forward-thinking renters, each in it for $750 a month rent. This versus what’s now an average of $1400 rent for the usual 650-square-foot 1-bedroom apartment with an underwhelming kitchen and no yard. Hmm…

Now that’s some serious co-living.

How else does the 99% afford an acre of the city’s best land with a pool, a soaker tub, a kitchen ready for the grandest of entertaining, let alone massive foyers and chandeliers?

The tough part is, they have to live with others, and respect each other’s space. It’s a little easier to get “alone time” when you have 1,300 square feet a person like those in the story above, but it’s still not total privacy.

Here are four reasons to consider giving up solo space in exchange for living with others in a fancy place:

Quality AND quantity

With a higher space-to-person ratio than could be afforded in a solo home, huge homes often offer yards, more elaborate bathrooms, more spaces to relax, and greater variety available in the living space. Some of these bonuses are things the average renter can never hope to enjoy on their own.

Yards, pools, games rooms; when sharing these with five or six other people versus an entire development, there’s a very different vibe and feeling of ownership. Unlike the sense of ownership, say, you get about your “pool” in a 30-floor condo highrise.

garden party backyard barbecue couples

Shared responsibilities

With a patient search for like-minded roommates, it’s possible to find people who echo the same worldview and want a similar quality of life. There’s no reason having a few roommates has to replicate a scene from Animal House.

Instead, it can be a mini-version of the Danish cohousing concept where everyone pitches in. Those who love to cook can cook. Those who love to clean do the cleaning. With shared chores, understanding, and someone always being around, there’s a sense of family that can come with roommates.

Strength in numbers

Life’s expensive, and it can really add up when it’s a solo space you’re trying to mack out. But if you’re piled into a large home with several people and you all decide the backyard needs a good patio set, it’s easier to get that happening when you’re cost-sharing. And sure, maybe the electrical and water bills will be higher with other people, but things like cable do cost less when shared.

It plays out in other areas too. If a good cost-allocation system can be created for buying and sharing of food, there’s no reason money can’t be saved on dining out and food waste, because communal meals can be made and enjoyed, with “leftovers-for-days fatigue” to be far less common.

Friends and friendship

Instant community

Aside from the Odd Couples and Friends, we’re used to generally seeing people who are “adults” past the age of 25 living by themselves. But are we seeing an end to this trend? As life’s gets more expensive, jobs are getting less secure, and trying to keep up with it all means we have less disposable time on our hands than we ever have.

Housemates are a smart way of getting control of all the factors we feel are out-of-control. Between co-housing and co-living, people are finding a way to bring back the “tribal” sense of community that most of humanity enjoyed before the modern detached lifestyle.

Human connection

From prehistoric times, humankind was always around to help his neighbor. These days, someone can die alone in their apartment and not be found for three weeks. That’s not a joke. It happens. Sometimes even years pass. There’s something weird about that — dying alone and unfound — when you look at humanity’s tribal history. This co-living thing, where like-minded souls band together to save money and live better, it’s almost an homage to the way we once were.

A sense of fellowship

There’s nothing wrong with loving your own space — I certainly love living alone — but this new sense of community, financial well-being, and camaraderie resulting from co-living in large homes might be a way for many of us to enjoy a sense of tribe and fellowship again.

All that and saving a few bucks too? No wonder this is a trend on the rise.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.