By Owen Angel

September 2020

A sense of loneliness and anonymity can be the downside of modern city life where people live apart and often separated from regular contact. Possibly in response to this situation, communal living is starting to see a revival both around the globe and indeed in the UK.

Communal living is hardly a new concept and the gradual return to the old style living traditions are becoming more and more apparent in recent times. It should be remembered that people in medieval Europe, more often than not, lived with a mix of their nuclear family, and a mix of extended family and friends. There are indeed still some places in Africa and South America where this traditional way of life is still in place and apparently regarded as a completely desirable lifestyle.

The concept of the nuclear family probably originated during the 20th century as industrialisation either forced or encouraged people to leave home, seeking work in factories and thereafter offices. As a result, households shrank back to a nuclear model as younger people were attracted to what they perceived to be a more exciting and independent way of life.

The returning vision of a communal way of life appears to have originated in Denmark during the 1970’s; there are now more than 700 “living communities” in that country, in which dozens of Danish families live in homes built around shared spaces. This idea has spread to neighbouring Sweden which even has a number of state-owned co-housing developments.

Co-living housing, which is perhaps better known in the UK as ‘HMO’s ‘(House in Multiple Occupation), may best be epitomised, in its early days, by the television series ‘Rising Damp’ where landlords sought to eke out maximum income by renting rooms to individuals with kitchens and other amenities as communal spaces. However, this market has moved on and evolved as developers recognise the potential appeal of a more modern co-living arrangement; the main thrust of their marketing is to target young people seeking a different lifestyle which provides a modicum of privacy, coupled with aspects of communal living. This naturally offers a more cost-effective budget to people starting out in life or in less well-paid jobs. The latter group are often cornerstones of the UK’s society as witnessed during the pandemic and lockdown.

While technology has made it possible to be location-independent (i.e. working from home), a lifestyle which has been, to a large extent, forced on the public as a result of Covid-19, it is Crowdify’s view that investors looking to explore this ‘next generation of shared living’ should still be guided by the principle of ‘location, location, location!’. The potential trend towards shared-living will by definition require good transport links and – just as importantly – superfast broadband to facilitate the increasing number of people likely to be working from home.

It is ironic to realise that the British Royal Family, in a sense, exemplify the concept of shared-living, although recent events may suggest that it is not one enjoyed by the extended family.

Crowdify’s key objective is to move as swiftly as possible towards developing and implementing this aspirational change for the immediate future. We are seeking local council and government support, in the light of their commitment of building new homes, to assist us with this initiative.

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