Coliving Is Like Dorm Life for Grownups — And It Can Help You Save Money

Group of young people spending their time in common living room
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It can be expensive living on your own.

Rents are rising. Student loan debt is increasing. And wages remain stagnant.

Then there are the smaller budget items that add up: utilities, internet, household supplies, furniture … the list goes on.

All of it can make you want to abandon adulting and move back in with Mom and Dad. Or instead, you could cut costs by living with complete strangers.

Yup, you read that right. Sharing an address with someone you just met can significantly slash your living expenses.

How Coliving Can Help Cut Housing Costs

Thousands of renters are trying out coliving, also known as communal living, a different approach to traditional renting. It’s when you share a home with multiple, unrelated people. You’ll typically have your own bedroom — maybe even a private bathroom — but the kitchen, dining area, living room, laundry and outdoor space are everyone’s to enjoy.

In exchange for the lack of personal space, this type of communal living often comes at a lower cost. Sometimes that’s in the form of cheaper rent. Other times it’s the added bonuses, like included utilities, fully furnished rooms, free laundry, community events or a cleaning service.

According to “2019: Co-Living’s Moment,” a survey about coliving conducted by the commercial real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield, the extra perks of coliving can help a renter save up to 20% compared to living alone.

The concept of coliving is nothing new. It’s like the boarding houses of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Or assisted living communities for seniors or dormitories for college students.

But today’s coliving environments are often marketed to young professionals wanting to afford living in expensive urban areas without giving up attractive amenities. An added bonus is connecting and networking with fellow housemates.

Coliving All Over the Country

There are multiple ways property owners are creating these communal living opportunities. Sometimes it’s a large single-family home broken into several units. In other cases, it’s a vacant apartment building or commercial space that’s been renovated to accommodate coliving tenants. Developers are also building communal housing from the ground up.

You’ll find more coliving spaces in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C., where multi-property companies like Common, WeLive, Ollie, Starcity and HubHaus can be found. But co-living options are popping up in other locations as this alternative to traditional renting grows.

Do a Google search for coliving in your city to discover what may be available or is planning to come to your region.

In St. Petersburg, Florida, where The Penny Hoarder is headquartered, a new coliving concept called Docked Living advertises rental rates starting at $550 per month, which is hundreds of dollars cheaper than other studio apartments in the city.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, developers renovated a former hospital administration building into a coliving “mansion” with rent starting at $320 and amenities that include a gym, sauna and yoga room. The Tomorrow Building, a co-living space in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has units going for $950 a month.

Coliving arrangements often involve short-term leases so renters don’t have to be locked down too long if they change jobs or want to travel for a month or two. So when it’s time to move away, renters don’t have to face the steep expense of breaking a long-term lease.

The flexible lease terms, low rental rates and included amenities are all reasons you might want to consider coliving if you’re trying to save money on housing.

Added bonus: You don’t have to end up back in your childhood bedroom.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.