Co-liv­ing is the new cool for Sin­ga­pore’s Gen Y

Singapore Business Review - - CONTENTS -

Ev­ery year, mil­len­nial trav­ellers are spend­ing more than US$200B, and are set to be the largest spend­ing travel de­mo­graphic by 2020. “Mil­len­ni­als are highly adapt­able and much more will­ing to share fa­cil­i­ties. When they seek out ac­com­mo­da­tion, it is not just about a room night’s stay, but also about the so­cial ex­pe­ri­ence and be­ing able to plug into the lo­cal com­mu­nity,” said The As­cott Lim­ited (As­cott) vice pres­i­dent for Brand & Mar­ket­ing and Dig­i­tal In­no­va­tion Mindy Teo.

As a re­sponse, co-liv­ing spa­ces for the trav­el­ling gen­er­a­tion have emerged and a few have started play­ing around with the con­cept. Such was the story of 28 year old Yoan Ka­mal­ski and 36 year old

Zenos Sch­mick­rath co-founders of co-liv­ing tech­nol­ogy Hm­let.

“I be­lieve Sin­ga­pore is mov­ing to­wards this new trend. Many stud­ies show that hu­mans are hap­pier and more ful­filled thanks to the con­nec­tions and peo­ple in their lives, not so much be­cause of money, suc­cess or fame. Real es­tate in Sin­ga­pore and Hong Kong is highly priced, and be­cause of our de­mand­ing type of men­tal­ity, the co-liv­ing con­cept is a ne­ces­sity,” said Hm­let CEO Yoan Ka­mal­ski.

A new way of liv­ing

Hm­let al­lows users to find room rentals on a month-by-month ba­sis with a min­i­mum com­mit­ment of three months. Rooms have ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties like wa­ter, elec­tric­ity, in­ter­net, and clean­ing & iron­ing ser­vices. Users can ap­ply for mem­ber­ship through a form where they can choose the type and price of the room, the lo­ca­tion, their length of stay, the num­ber of peo­ple to live with, and even the ne­ces­si­ties they want. Right af­ter, the ap­pli­cants are put through per­son­al­ity matches, so that they can live with room­mates they aren’t likely to com­plain about.

Ac­cord­ing to the web­site, the cheap­est rooms are priced at

$900 whilst the pre­mium mas­ter’s be­d­rooms can cost up to $2000 per month. The prop­er­ties au­to­mat­i­cally pro­vide ser­vices like clean­ing and iron­ing. Ka­mal­ski said they will soon add chef ser­vices to the lineup of ser­vices of­fered in their spa­ces.

These ameni­ties are just some of the perks of us­ing Hm­let, noted 28year old ex­pa­tri­ate Jenni Ukko­nen. She also reck­oned that the more flex­i­ble con­tracts and the prom­ise of friendly con­nec­tions in a for­eign land con­vinced her to rent in Hm­let. Since she is cur­rently em­ployed as a com­mu­nity and events as­so­ci­ate in­tern, she’s ben­e­fit­ting from the friendly bonds in the co-liv­ing hub.

“I have made great friends with all my flat­mates and in a way, I feel like I have a fam­ily in Sin­ga­pore now,” she said. “One of the great ad­van­tages is. that ev­ery­thing is in­cluded in your

The cheap­est rooms are priced at $900 whilst the pre­mium mas­ter’s be­d­rooms can cost up to $2,000 per month.

fixed monthly rent. It is some­thing that you ap­pre­ci­ate as a Mil­len­nial ex­pat,” she said.

Co-liv­ing is more prac­ti­cal and eco­nom­i­cal said Carol Chen, 35, CEO and founder of de­signer dress rental startup Covetella, who also chose to re­side in Hm­let in­stead of a tra­di­tional apart­ment. “I’ve be­come best friends with some of my house­mates and so far I haven’t lived with any­one I didn’t like,” she said, al­though she ad­mit­ted there can be some lack of com­plete pri­vacy and in­con­ve­nience when guests visit.

Myles Huang, di­rec­tor of re­search in Asia Pa­cific cap­i­tal mar­kets at JLL said there is “very strong in­ter­est” for co-liv­ing ar­range­ments among mil­len­ni­als like Carol and Jenni who were born be­tween the early 1980s and early 2000s, as they are more open to the idea of so­cial net­work­ing and the shar­ing econ­omy.

“Co-liv­ing houses may of­fer short-term ac­com­mo­da­tion and host reg­u­lar events for res­i­dents, many of which are stu­dents, startup founders or em­ploy­ees, young pro­fes­sion­als, as well as artists and cre­atives,” he said.

Co-liv­ing has also be­come pop­u­lar due to ris­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion costs in cities like Sin­ga­pore, which was ranked the fifth most ex­pen­sive city in the world to rent a home, ac­cord­ing to U.k.-based prop­erty por­tal Nested. “Many sin­gles, stu­dents or young work­ers find con­ven­tional apart­ments out of their reach be­cause of high rents, de­posits and fur­nish­ing costs,” said Huang. “Al­though pric­ings of co-liv­ing space are quite di­verse, they are gen­er­ally more af­ford­able.”

In­dus­try giants like As­cott have also re­sponded in a pretty sim­i­lar view. It has ac­quired prop­er­ties un­der its lyf brand with lyf Fu­nan Sin­ga­pore in which is ex­pected to open in 2020 and lyf Far­rer Park Sin­ga­pore which will open in 2021. “We are open to both in­vest­ment and man­age­ment con­tracts in mar­kets where we see de­mand for such co­l­iv­ing spa­ces,” said Teo.

Given this de­mand, Teo said As­cott is tar­get­ing 10,000 units un­der the co­l­iv­ing space lyf brand by 2020.

But Daniel Beck, CEO and founder of co-liv­ing.com warned that as more big play­ers join the mar­ket, there might be a need for de­vel­op­ers to di­ver­sify be­yond cities and pro­fes­sion­als in the gig econ­omy, and com­pet­ing not only in price but also dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion.

“We need to see some­one go for sub­urbs and ex­otic des­ti­na­tions,” he said. “I’d love to see co-liv­ing in more re­mote des­ti­na­tions, get­ting away from cities, and niche com­mu­ni­ties such as surf­ing, ski­ing, climb­ing, mixed mar­tial arts and bi­cy­cling.”

As­cott is tar­get­ing 10,000 units un­der the co-liv­ing space lyf brand by 2020.

Shared kitchen of a co-liv­ing space by As­cott

Founders of co-liv­ing tech­nol­ogy Hm­let

28-year old ex­pat Jenni Uko­nen and her room­mate at Hm­let

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