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Co-living a sustainable housing solution for Europe, report says

19th October 2022

Co-living can be a sustainable housing solution for expensive and crowded European cities, claims a new report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and JLL.

The co-living sector provides rental accommodation which is characterised by smaller private spaces and larger shared spaces. Thus renters might have a bedroom and bathroom to themselves but share a kitchen, living room and outdoor space with other tenants. 

Co-living originated in the US, but has spread to other markets as an option for younger tenants looking for better amenities than a flat share and more social interaction than solo living.

ULI and JLL estimated total investment in the sector of around €1.2bn from 2020 to mid-2022, with further investor commitments for various operational platforms.

The report argues co-living can help cities struggling to provide appropriate, affordable housing for rapidly growing urban populations, increasingly made up of small and single households. 

It also highlights potential ESG gains which can derive from shared amenities and public spaces and converting disused buildings and spaces. These include increased affordability, energy efficiency, social engagement and wellbeing.

ULI and JLL have produced a best-practice guide to support the sector’s growth, including recommendations for policy frameworks for developers, design and development of co-living schemes, operations and technology, and financial metrics to improve transparency. 

The sector has typically been targeted at younger renters, however the report suggested it could also suit retired people who want to return to cities to access leisure opportunities and amenities.

ULI Europe CEO Lisette van Doorn said: “There is an ambitious ESG agenda linked to successful co-living projects, by focusing on repurposing of existing buildings and knitting the project neatly into the wider community, by connecting residents to local entrepreneurs or giving the wider community access to some of the amenities, like coworking and a gym. We have barely begun to scratch the surface in realising its true potential.”

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