Co-living survey – Ideal group size


Privacy, companionship and a sense of community are the keys to happiness

By 2030 the UN projects that there will be 1.2 billion more people on the planet, with 60-70% of them living in urban areas. As cities grow and space becomes more crowded and expensive, co-living in urban areas is expected to rise.

Co-living means sharing parts of our homes, utilities, services and objects like kitchen equipment or cars – self-driving ones in the not so distant future.

So what do people want and need to make living together work? IKEA’s research lab Space10 asked 7,000 people around the world as part of their One Shared House 2030 research to understand the housing and furniture trends of the future.

We looked at the survey results for 40-59 and over 60s in the UK to see how they compare with our own Cohabitas House Sharing Report. Two key considerations came out in both studies: the need for privacy and finding the right sort of people.

Privacy is key

IKEA’s survey reveals that most people can see themselves sharing a common room, self-sustainable garden, internet access, or a self-driving car – but they want their own bathroom and a bedroom that is off-limits to others when they are not at home. Some of the older age group would rather have a separate kitchen to themselves, even if it takes up more of their own private space. Setting boundaries between private and communal areas is key.

Having their say

Especially for the over 60s a big worry is about not having full autonomy on decisions impacting daily life. They would, for example, want all new house-members to be selected by a consensus vote, rather than just accepting everyone who applies. People also prefer to furnish their own space themselves and only common areas to come furnished, something we also learnt in the Cohabitas House Sharing Report. The majority would rather pay energy costs based on the amount of energy they use, instead of just splitting bills equally.

Honest, considerate and tidy

These are the qualities people want in an ideal housemate. Whereas the over 60s prefer like-minded house-members similar to themselves the younger group seems more open to sharing with people from different walks of life. Financial benefits come out more strongly for the younger generation but both groups see the biggest benefit in companionship and having more ways to socialise outside of their existing circles.

Keep it small and personal

Interestingly, people 60 and older prefer a slightly bigger community of 10-25 people, whereas 40-59-year-olds see 4-10 as ideal. Findings are pretty similar around the world with most people opting for an average of 4-10 across all age groups.

What does this mean for designing the ideal shared home?

Even though these findings might not be fully representative we find interesting that the preferred community size is fairly small – significantly smaller than a lot of current co-living spaces being developed for younger people, apartment complexes like The Collective or WeLive who offer several hundred rooms in one apartment block.

The other important thing to consider is making room for privacy. Not surprisingly, everyone needs their own personal space and offering rooms with en-suite bathrooms and potentially a small kitchenette will ensure that people keep their independence and have a choice of when to socialise with others.

Nuria Prieto outlines what she believes is important in a mature co-living design.


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