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Shared housing and micro-living are what millennials want

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Signing up for a bond and making a purchase on a sizeable house in the suburbs is no longer considered an entry into adulthood.

As a number of young professionals migrate to urban hubs and city centres, many are choosing to live a simpler life in the form of shared housing, says entrepreneur and property investor, Grant Smee.

Housing cooperatives or co-living, multi-purpose developments and micro-living are global trends South Africans are now enjoying as real estate companies and property investors capitalise on the opportunity. However, Smee says, as many young South Africans continue to enter the skilled labour market and seek to move out of their family homes, they are met with a demographic-specific property shortage.

“Young professionals are driving the affordable housing market nationwide, and due to their preference for ‘lock-up-and-go’ units, they are the property developers’ dream.”

The 2019 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey showed that 57% of the people surveyed said travel and seeing the world was on top of their priority list while less than half said they wanted be homeowners.

“Many nomadic professionals have embraced co-working in rented office spaces and the concept of co-living and sharing has quickly evolved from this. This form of living and working has made it possible for people to travel, live and work in a way that is more affordable,” Smee says.

Although the concepts are similarly interlinked, there are slight differences and benefits. One of these is the co-working to co-living trend. Citing the Urban Dictionary’s definition of co-living – “shared housing designed to support a purpose-driven life.

A modern, urban lifestyle that values openness, sharing, and collaboration” – he says: “For many the priority doesn’t lie in the space in which they live and work but more in living and working together with like-minded individuals on the same property. The migration to be closer to urban hubs also provides economic benefits such as cutting transport and living costs.”

Businesses such as Cape Town Cribs offer co-living houses which bring with it its own sustainable lifestyle through the sharing and efficient use of resources and space.

“Co-living can consist of residents who rent beautifully furnished private bedrooms, and sometimes a bathroom, but share kitchens and other rooms and amenities,” Smee says. Another interlinked concept is that of the multi-purpose/mixed-use development.

“With the rapid expansion in urban centres, new solutions lead to space-saving building concepts. City planners are no longer able to design a stand-alone office or residential building, which makes multi-purpose developments a welcome solution,” says Smee.

People living in multi-purpose developments have everything they need within walking distance. These developments provide residents with living areas that are integrated with their work, home, shopping, transportation and green spaces.

Micro-living is another trend among young professionals, with such apartments accommodating residents whose priority is location above space and square metres. “It’s generally close to the city centre and is close enough to walk, cycle or rely on public transport.

“A micro-apartment usually has one bedroom, one bathroom and space-saving features which encourage minimalist living,” Smee says. Cape Town will soon receive a micro-living apartment development when 1 On Albert opens its doors.

“The development will offer different apartment types and feature communal recreational spaces, shops, a food court, laundromat, heated swimming pool and more. “It will have a new conceptual design known as integrated living solutions.”


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