Millennial Trends in Living and Working

Co-working facilities, in which individuals rent a desk, office, or meeting room in a space shared with other freelancers or small-business people, has caught on quickly in the last several years. Co-working offices allow freelancers to share common areas and costs, providing a professional work environment without the distractions generated by working at home.

Co-working has become particularly significant for urban millennials, many of whom find themselves working on a number of different projects for multiple clients as part of the “gig economy.” As co-working has increased in popularity, it has also given rise to an entirely new type of office real estate property.

But the co-working trend may only be the start of a more dramatic change in the way people live and work, as the the concept has expanded into “co-living” properties. Like co-working spaces, co-living buildings allow younger workers to save money by sharing common living areas and resources, such as kitchen space, television rooms, and laundry facilities. They also offer the promise of a built-in community, with planned social events designed to foster a greater sense of connection between housemates.

Interestingly, some facilities, such as CoWoLi, offer a combination of both co-working and co-living spaces, allowing digital nomads to live and work wherever they choose, around the world. Others, like Founder House in New York City, are geared toward specific types of professionals (startup founders, in this case) and offer more permanent living and working arrangements.

Although the sector is still small relative to traditional office and multi-family housing, it is quickly catching on in cities with high rents, such as New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Chicago. But the trend isn’t limited to just big cities. CoWorks, for example, is located in Syracuse, and this form of affordable, communal living may well prove attractive to millennials in other Rust Belt cities.

While co-living is still in its early days, the movement has the potential to provide real estate developers with an entirely new class of property in which to invest. That could spell major changes for the commercial real estate sector, along with major opportunities.

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