“Earlier, I had to pay `15,000 for just rent and maintenance. Now I pay half the amount for a twin sharing room in a furnished 2BHK, which covers electricity, water, a fully stocked kitchen and access to a vibrant community of young professionals,” she says.
In India, the concept of co-living facilities began catching on a few years ago. Designed to cater to students and young professionals, they offer monthly rents ranging from Rs10,000 to Rs20,000 including water, electricity, Wi-Fi, housekeeping and use of common areas and amenities. They do not have the restrictions of a PG or the hassles of maintaining an apartment. And while the sector did take a hit during the pandemic, co-living facilities are back in demand as people return to offices.
Rahul Baliga, co-founder of Bengaluru-based FF21 which began operations in 2017, says, “People want to move away from the traditional PG accommodation as they find it restrictive and not up to their standards of hygiene. Also, they offer no spaces to socialise.”
Today, FF21 operates eight buildings with 1,100 beds. “Each building has tastefully done common areas — lounge, dining rooms, home theatre, game room, terrace as well as little nooks to chill,” he says, adding that the demand is picking up. “We are seeing 10%-15% growth every month since May.”
Priya Atri, co-founder of Convivo, a marketplace for co-living where companies can list their properties, says, “Our clients are mainly students and single working professionals. People are looking for flexibility in their living arrangements; many want to take it up for just a month or two,” she says. Facilities ensure their staff are vaccinated and ask occupants to produce vaccination certificates.
Abhishek Tripathi, co-founder of Settl that launched in August 2020 and has 13 properties in Bengaluru and Hyderabad, says the aim is to make city living effortless. “People move to cities for work and renting an apartment means paying security deposits. Also they don’t want the hassle of doing household chores,” he says.
There are facilities to meet every budget. Casa Grande, which launched Staylogy this January, has 11 fully furnished 5BHK villas in Chennai’s Perungudi area. “Since it is a gated community, residents have access to the gym and swimming pool,” says K Dharaneshwaran, assistant sales manager, Staylogy.
With people still sticking to safety protocols, the demand for private rooms and studios has risen. According to a recent survey by Colive covering 20,000 respondents, around 91% of the occupiers prefer to live alone as compared to shared living — 82% prefer a one bedroom or studio apartment, 61% prefer private rooms. However, 39%still prefer shared rooms, as it helps them forge new bonds.
The rent depends on how many people share a room. “The monthly rent is `10,500 for four-sharing and includes electricity charges, Wi-Fi, and housekeeping. For single sharing, it is `20,500,” says Dharaneshwaran. “They have to pay a month’s deposit and give a month’s notice.” A bed in a studio apartment in Settl is `11,000 per month.
With many women opting for such facilities — FF21 has 56% men and 44% women occupants while Settl has 60% men and 40% women residents — properties offer separate floors for men and women with access-controlled doors and CCTV cameras. They are also concentrating on fostering a sense of community. “After experiencing lockdown and loneliness, people feel the need for it,” says Tripathi. “We have set up co-working spaces where people can network.”
Settl also has initiatives to bring residents together — jamming sessions, barbecue nights and bootcamps for professionals, such as a recent one on personal wealth management, and fitness activities such as Zumba and cycling events. Hitesh Hingorani, who recently moved from Jaipur to Bengaluru for work, says he enjoys the facilities that come with such spaces. “It has a workstation, game room with TT and pool tables, so it’s a big draw for young people,” says the 24-year-old software developer.