A lifestyle that’s been quickly embraced by people in cities across the world, co-living is one answer to the issue of affordable housing. It’s also an ideal way to continue professional and personal growth outside of the workplace. At the heart of co-living is the mission to create a genuine community within a building that goes beyond being just neighbours.
Forming close bonds with those around us can also improve our mental wellbeing. Many people are looking towards co-living arrangements, such as BTR (build-to-rent) and PBSA (Purpose Built Student Accommodation) schemes, so they don’t have to live in solitary.
To better understand the benefits co-living has on our mental health, we at LOFT have taken a closer look at how key demographics are taking advantage of BTR and PBSA properties to boost their wellbeing.
Millennials & Generation Z
Living in isolation has become a trend that very few of us are actually okay with, but another way of living that has prevailed in recent years has been our adoption to the subscription model, such as the way we use Spotify and Netflix as opposed to purchasing CDs and DVDs.
The Multihousing Survey 2019 from Knight Frank revealed 30% of Generation Z (referred to as iGen in the report) rented because they preferred the flexibility and didn’t want to be rooted in one spot (pg 3). Co-living arrangements provide young people with the high living standards they’ve come to expect while also giving them a base where they can interact with others without tying themselves down.
Healthline listed several reasons why a person might feel lonely such as:
Working from home
Moving to a new city
Build-to-rent schemes can help young people who are going through any of the events listed above by reminding them they are part of a wider community. It can be tough living and working in isolated quarters, especially if young people only see their current accommodation as temporary, but BTR helps build communities and friendships that last.
With the increase of student tuition fees, many young people in higher education feel as though affordable accommodation is out of their reach. As a result, 6% are living with their parents as commuter students, as their average weekly rent is almost halved when compared to living spaces provided by universities.
While the cost may be lower, living at home has a serious detrimental effect on the mental wellbeing of students. They miss out on many of the social aspects of going to university, such as spending more time with friends and forming bonds with people studying other courses. PBSA resolves these issues by providing low-cost accommodation with communal areas to allow more opportunities for person-to-person interaction.
The importance of co-living arrangements on mental health also becomes apparent when you take a look at how well students perform academically. 43% of students who feel alone revealed they strongly considered dropping out of university (pg 12). By having a tight-knit community of fellow students and PBSA support staff behind them, we can assume more people in higher education are more likely to succeed in their studies and carry on their course, as long as they have a strong network they can fall back on should their mental health begin to slip.
BTR can also provide parents with a safe, nurturing environment to raise their children thanks to a wide range of on-site facilities. The rise in families moving into BTR properties aligns directly with the emerging trend of relocating into the city to avoid lengthy commutes and to enjoy the reinvigorated city urban environments in the UK.
The opportunity to create a lasting community is the key to the success of BTR living. Parents are looking to utilise co-living arrangements for up to three years. In that time, both parents and children can socialise and bond with other families in the building.
This improves the mental wellbeing of parents, as they are more connected with other couples who understand the challenges that come with raising a child, and it improves things for children, as they have more friends to play, interact and grow with.
As the demand for family-orientated BTR living quarters grows, the market is now evolving with parents and children in mind. The Union Wharf development in Greenwich, London has an 11-storey tower purposely built for families with more bedrooms and extra space. LOFT advised Essential Living on the Interior Design of the family apartments and shared social spaces, which has resulted in residents of all ages being able to relax, socialise and build relationships with other residents, ultimately building a sense of community.
A major issue retirees face is loneliness, so it’s no surprise co-living arrangements appeal to them. Research from Age UK, revealed 24% of pensioners don’t go out socially at least once a month, and over one million older people say they often or always feel lonely (pg 2). Communal areas that actively promote social interaction have a significant positive effect on our wellbeing, which is why BTR schemes are growing in popularity with retirees.
According to the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research, co-living arrangements “enable older people to receive support and companionship… which combats loneliness (pg 72).” As such, it highlights just how integral co-living can be in improving mental wellbeing.
It’s important to think about how interior design can help encourage the older generations to engage more with one another. Making use of the space available with suitable seating and decor can give retirees the helping hand they may need to start forming meaningful connections.
Co-Living Arrangements on Mental Wellbeing
For many people, it can be hard to form new bonds and connections. Without others to engage with, life quickly becomes very lonely and isolated. One thing that’s become clear from the research done on co-living arrangements is that it doesn’t matter what age you are or what your current situation is like; we’re all designed to be sociable.
However, it’s not enough to simply develop a BTR or PBSA property and expect people to interact. Spaces have to be designed with social awareness in mind to make this a reality. The right decor, seating and ambience are needed to promote mental wellbeing. At LOFT, we have much expertise in designing and furnishing co-living spaces to bring out the best in residents. For more information on our services, get in touch with a member of our team.