1 Popular Way Millennials Are Cutting Back on Living Expenses (and Why There’s Nothing Wrong With It)

group of roommates making pizza
Sharing your space with other young professionals is becoming more common. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

Keeping up with the cost of living can be difficult. Finding an affordable place to live that’s also nice enough to call home can be one of the most challenging parts of adulthood. No one knows this more than millennials. Despite the difficulties that often come with finding a suitable place to live, millennials are being creative when it comes to housing. One way they’re slashing costs is by co-living (also known as communal living). This is a dorm-style arrangement where groups of people live together, so they can keep housing costs low.
Co-living has been a popular option among young people just out of college. And now businesses are also jumping on the co-living bandwagon, hoping to make some quick cash from this idea. Here are a few things you should know about co-living.

The sharing economy

Millennials have grown up in an age of what some have called the sharing economy. They have become accustomed to apartment and home lending (Airbnb), co-working (WeWork), ride-sharing (uberPOOL), and peer-to-peer lending (Lending Club). The act of sharing housing, work, and commuting space is second nature to millennials. Co-living is just one more option young people have to stretch their resources and meet new people if they so choose.

Living at home is still the most popular choice among millennials

Adult son living at home with parents
Co-living could save your relationship with your parents. | iStock.com/Highwaystarz-Photography

Although co-living is catching on, most young people are still choosing to stay with mom and dad. If you’re considering a return flight to the nest, you’ve got plenty of company. Research shows more millennials are living with their parents than with a spouse. Living with parents is the No. 1 living arrangement among millennials, according to Census Bureau research. In 2016, 22.9 million (31%) young adults lived with their parents.

The freedom of co-living

Group of friends moving into new home
Co-living gives you options. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

Most young people have the option to move back home after they’re done with college. However, that can pose a problem when it comes to privacy and attempting to finally live a life of your own. When you reside with your parents, you still have to live by their rules. You might not be able to have certain people stay overnight, and your folks might have their own preferences when it comes to noise level and keeping house. In a group living situation, you’ll have a bit more freedom and less scrutiny when it comes to lifestyle choices.

Companies are offering more co-living options

Bedroom in co-living
The WeLive apartment features private bedrooms and communities dinners on Sunday. | WeLive via Facebook

For the past couple of years, young people have taken it upon themselves to gather a group of friends and split their living costs. Those who didn’t have a group of friends ready or willing to co-live had to live at home until they scraped enough money together to move out, or they’d advertise for a roommate on sites, such as Craigslist.
Once companies became aware of the need for easy access to co-living arrangements, apartment buildings began springing up in cities across the U.S. to fill this need. One company that joined the co-living movement is WeWork, which originally started out offering co-working spaces to individuals and companies. WeWork branched out to co-living spaces, called WeLive, in 2016.

Keeping costs low

podshare dorm bunks
What you lack in privacy you make up for in affordability. | Podshare via Facebook.

One of the top reasons millennials are going the co-living route is because it’s cheaper than living alone. Most of the time, the cheapest alternative is moving back in with your parents. But if you’re not willing to sacrifice privacy and freedom, the second best option is co-living. Some co-living buildings, such as PodShare, even provide free food and fully furnished apartments, further helping their residents keep costs down.

What to consider when you co-live

Three happy friends talking and drinking coffee
You’re going to be around people a lot. | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem
  • Health issues: If you have any health issues that make it hard to live with other people (a fragrance sensitivity, for example), you might want to consider other options. There’s only so much control (if any) you’ll have over your housemates.
  • Neighborhood: Co-living in certain neighborhoods will be much more expensive than others. Expect to pay a pretty penny if you decide to live in a trendy part of New York City, for example.
  • Tolerance for other people: If you’re not much of a people person, co-living might not be for you. Due to the nature of the setup, you can expect other people to be around most of the time.

Is co-living right for you?

Dirty dishes in sink
Be prepared for dirty dishes and all that comes with sharing your space. | iStock.com/ikrents

If you’re considering venturing out into the world of co-living, you might have some reservations. Fortunately, most co-living arrangements don’t require a long-term commitment. Some buildings allow a month-to-month living situation, and others even let tenants reside on a day-to-day basis. Make sure to call ahead and ask about some of the basic living rules and what your rights are if you decide this type of housing situation just isn’t for you. 

Where to find co-living spaces

Bunk beds
Aviato Club in Los Angeles features dorm-style bunks. | Aviato Club

Thinking of going the co-living route? Here are some of your options in three major cities.

Los Angeles

New York

 Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.