What is ‘co-living’? Isn’t it just a fancy new name for HMOs?

What is ‘co-living’? Isn’t it just a fancy new name for HMOs?

I read this comprehensive and balanced article a while ago but revisited it today. I thought it would provide a really good introduction for anyone who isn’t really sure what ‘co-living’ is and why it could be worth their investment.

Co-living: the end of urban loneliness – or cynical corporate dorms?

In the industrial chic lobby of the Collective, a huge apartment block in the northwest London neighbourhood of Willesden Junction, a set of posters advertise its events series for residents. There’s a crystal-pendant-making workshop, a talk on the politics of body hair and another on mental health awareness.

The article even clearly defines the difference between ‘co-living’ and ‘co-housing’ together with both positive and negative opinion from current and former residents of both types of development.

The balance is good, exploring the pros and cons, and discussing whether co-living is really just a way for developers to squeeze the living space and cram as many people as possible into their developments.

My one big take home from it though is the social aspect. I firmly believe the current drive for larger developments, ostensibly to achieve required economies of scale, actually destroys the social cohesion that is the principle desire of a large proportion of the target residents.

I believe these large scale schemes actually reduce the social cohesion and provide greater opportunity for conflict. After all, we know the optimum size for an HMO is 6 people and that co-living works best from a social perspective with 6-12 people sharing resources.

My personal vision for getting those scale economies is to have a large number of smaller units, sharing resources and facilities across sites. Each ‘unit’ works on its own but gains by sharing across a network of local and national resources.

Read this article with that goal in mind and if the idea of developing co-living units interlinked across sites has any resonance, get in touch!

“Top 20 areas of North Yorkshire’s rental market revealed” – not all it seems?

“Top 20 areas of North Yorkshire’s rental market revealed” – not all it seems?

I received the following “Top 20 areas of North Yorkshire’s rental market revealed” through LinkedIn today and I was keen to see the report.

It’s only short and when I’d finished I wasn’t sure what I’d learnt, if anything. Then a closer look revealed … nothing!


After the introductory fluff, the first pertinent table allegedly shows the comparative ‘size’ of the rental markets in towns and cities. It shows Middlesbrough (spelling it incorrectly with an extra ‘o’ by the way) as by far the largest ‘market’, quoting it as 35% of the total North Yorkshire market, with Richmond at 25%, York at 17% and Harrogate at 7.2%. Wow! Interesting.

Hang on! Richmond at 25%?! Richmond has a population of 8,500? Even the whole of Richmondshire is only 53,000 (North Yorkshire has a population of about 1.3m) how can it be 25% of the market?

I look again … the statistics are an “analysis of rental prices (in advertised rents) for homes to let”. Which means these are rental asking prices – for rentals that have not yet let. So really it does not show the size of the rental market at all, it more accurately describes what is NOT renting! Therefore on this data scrape you might be better assuming that Middlesbrough is critically over-supplied and be looking at the lower percentages where there isn’t such a high surplus on the market. No?

No. This data has absolutely no meaning at all – the size of the location is not considered – a low percentage location might still be over-supplied using this data. I can’t actually work out what this data is telling me. Certainly not quickly, which is what data is supposed to do.

What about the next table ‘Top5 rental markets … on rent’?

1. Richmond: £1798 pcm
2. York: £1395 pcm
3. Harrogate: £823 pcm
4. Scarborough: £477 pcm
5. Middlesborough: £425 pcm

In my humble opinion, similarly useless. So Middlesbrough, although substantially highest in the ‘market size’ rank of the first table, is 5th with a rental figure less than a quarter of Richmond. I can sort of extrapolate from the two sets of figures that Middlesbrough has a lot more properties available at much lower rents than Richmond. But now I’m trying to guess what’s going on with Richmond, commanding such high rents – perhaps there are a significant number of very large, rural houses which are not letting and skewing the data.

What data? It’s a mess. Does any of this inform investment decisions or help me define the best rental markets in the region? Emphatically not. Useless. A waste of my time reading and trying to understand this ‘report’ and of the agent’s time in originally producing it. I suppose at least I got a blog post out of it – but not the positive kind of post the originator of the ‘report’ was looking for.