Co-Living: Rethinking Affordability and the American Dream



The next wave of real estate technology will bring exciting new possibilities for solving some of humanity’s biggest problems. From co-living and affordability fixes to helping solve social issues faced by a large segment of society, today’s innovators are rethinking the way we work, play, and live. Here’s a look at a few smart startups that are taking a broader approach for addressing our needs through communal thinking.

Manhattan bridge,view from Washington street, Brooklyn, New york

Despite a digital movement that’s grown up through social networking, globalization, and an ever increasingly interconnected world, real community has slipped through our grasp these last few decades.
The millennial generation, along with the younger cohort who about to enter the workforce in the era of smartphones and laptops, they’re ironically the loneliest and most disconnected group in history. A recent nationwide survey by health insurer Cigna reveals epidemic loneliness in the U.S. This study, and others, reveal the importance of human connectedness and real community that must be rejuvenated.

This is where startups like The Assembly and The Riveter come in offer special classes, free member events, and a speaker series to help in building connections. Then there’s a startup called HubHaus that uses roommate matching algorithms to help people locate their next home and to select the people who live in it. There’s also a startup that provides dormitories for adult professionals. StarCity is all about co-living focused on not just “place,” but on finding their housemates, build relationships, and collective caring for helping each other. And there’s New York-based Ollie, which offers fully hotel-style, furnished studios and shared suites replete with luxury amenities and even curated events. And the list goes on, and on.

All these and more innovations aim to solve for regenerating community, while at the same time helping to fix America’s longstanding housing and rental crisis. Not everyone knows, but more people in America rent today than at any time since the mid 1960’s. This is ironic too, since it was the mid 20th century when co-living was the fashion. As David Friedlander put it in a 2015 story for Life Edited:

“In general, there’s a growing market for minimal, all-inclusive, affordable, community-centric housing.”

Taking the trend a step farther, this story at urbanNext predicts that
“by the fourth decade of the 21st century, 70 percent of the world’s population will be urbanized.” The report goes on to frame the larger problem that will arise out of the ever-increasing cost of affordable living space. In the years to come billions of people around the world will grapple with how to find and pay for a place to live.

This digital age has cause us to redefine much of what we considered conventional wisdom. The desire for home ownership, long thought of as the “American Dream,” is one of these conventional ideas. It’s high time we reconsidered our individual and collective dreams in order to create a healthy and sustainable future for us all.