In December of 2019 I had the opportunity to attend a Coliving industry Meetup in Singapore co-hosted by Co-Liv, a non-profit empowering Coliving around the world, and Sharies, a Coliving operator based in France. After meeting many of Singapore’s Coliving pioneers, my three biggest takeaways from the event became very apparent:
As identified in many reports on Coliving including the recent Global Coliving Report from The House Monk, much of the buzz around Coliving in Asia Pacific has been around the two biggest markets: China and India. These two markets are fantastic fits for Coliving and the attention is much deserved, but this sometimes leads to South East Asia being overlooked.
After personally visiting Coliving companies in cities across Asia including Singapore, Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Seoul, Manila, and Bangalore among others, I believe Coliving in South East Asia is on the cusp of exponential growth. In fact, when South East Asia is considered as a whole, the current economic figures and future growth trends show the region is perfect for Coliving.
Over half of ASEAN’s current population is below the age of 30 and the region is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world. Furthermore, rapid urbanization is overwhelming the infrastructure of many large cities in the region and the space efficient, community centric nature of Coliving can certainly act as part of the solution.
Many of the Meetup attendees I met seemed to share the same sentiment that while the Coliving market in Singapore is maturing rapidly (arguably the center of Coliving in the region), there are abundant opportunities for growth in the surrounding areas including the rest of South East Asia, East Asia, and Australia.
For example, Outpost recently opened its third location in Indonesia and has plans to re-launch a new location in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In perhaps the most ambitious Coliving growth announcement in the region to date, Hmlet plans to operate 10,000 beds in Japan in the coming years while continuing to grow its presence in Australia.
Taking into account the economic and population growth trends alongside the news coming from Singapore’s biggest Coliving players, I believe Coliving is poised to make a dent in the South East Asian housing market in the 2020s and housing market players need to start paying attention.
I’m not the first person to suggest that the global Coliving industry is on the cusp of a massive period of growth, but after walking away from the event I also found myself wanting to attend another Meetup as soon as possible.
For one, it was an amazing feeling to find other people who speak the same language and are just as passionate about the potential of Coliving to transform the way people live. Since Coliving has yet to hit the mainstream, my conversations (and I assume the conversations of other Coliving enthusiasts) concerning Coliving typically center around an explanation of the concept and the other person responding “isn’t that just having roommates?”
At the Co-Liv Meetup, however, all of the attendees got to skip that part of the conversation and dive right into our crazy ideas about Coliving and visions for the industry. Discussions ranged from company founding stories to the current state of the industry in Singapore, and even the growth plans for South East Asia, East Asia, and Australia mentioned above.
It was nothing short of inspiring to get a first hand glimpse into how these companies are planning to create superior living solutions for people across the world. Not only was this extremely refreshing, but I believe more Meetups will increase the cross-pollination of best practices and help rise the tide for the entire Coliving movement.
Over the course of the evening I had the chance to meet a diverse set of Coliving professionals including representatives from Singapore Coliving companies Cove, Hmlet, Lyf, Outpost, and Rouf, as well as other companies involved in the industry including Alvarium, SALTO, and Sharies.
I was able to hear Guillaume, one of the founders of COVE, discuss his company’s 2020 plans to continue to grow its Coliving portfolio in Singapore while also expanding into other parts South East Asia. I had a lengthy discussion with Yvonne about her recent move to Singapore to join Hmlet’s community team that is responsible for building meaningful communities at each Hmlet location.
Earlier in the day I also had the chance to meet Joel who gave me a tour of Lyf’s Funan Singapore location, an extremely impressive development centered in Singapore’s Central Business District that makes it quite popular for business travelers.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Geraud, the Head of Digital at Sharies and the MVP of the night as the event organizer. During our discussions I found myself nodding to all his reflections on the potential of Coliving and particularly enjoyed learning about Sharies’ community-centered Coliving concept that intentionally makes around 20% of its square footage open to the general public in order to fully integrate their properties into the surrounding communities.
Finally, I’d like to give a big thanks to Co-Liv and Sharies for facilitating a successful event in Singapore. I think I speak for all the attendees when I say that we can only hope there will be many more meetups that bring industry players together with the goal of increasing Coliving’s positive impact in the region.
Thanks again for stopping by Coliving Corner and please stay tuned for more articles in the upcoming weeks. As always, please comment below with any reactions and feel free to reach out if you would like to connect.