Common recently open doors to the Lincoln in Brooklyn, NY. Common

Coliving has become a popular housing option for cash-strapped millennials looking to save on rent by sharing amenities. Developers like Common, The Collective, and WeWork (WeLive) have capitalized on the trend by building large communities with private bedrooms and shared common spaces.

But Fast Company writer Katharine Schwab says consumers' actual coliving preferences may differ from what some of these models are offering.

In November 2017, Ikea’s research lab, Space10, launched an interactive website and survey called One Shared House 2030, which was set up as a mock application to a shared house that one would move into in the year 2030. The survey asked people about their coliving preferences – from what spaces they’d want to keep private to what types of utilities they wouldn’t mind sharing. The survey got feedback from more than 7,000 people in 147 countries.

As it turns out, people really don’t want to share bathrooms–or bedrooms for that matter–but are fine with sharing kitchens, workspaces, gardens, and the internet. People were most open to living with childless couples and single women, and would prefer not to deal with teenagers or small children. The biggest concern is privacy–except for people over 65, who are most worried about having arguments and dealing with other people’s messes.

But most interestingly, the survey revealed that respondents were most interested in living in shared houses of between 4 and 10 people. That’s really small–and not something that today’s coliving companies offer. Instead, those companies are going the opposite direction, building giant skyscrapers that can house hundreds of people and calling it coliving. The Collective has a giant tower in west London with 550 beds, WeLive is building a skyscraper in Seattle that will have 384 apartments, and in 2018 the U.S. company Ollie is launching a coliving house with more than 470 apartments in Queens, New York.

The survey shows that the main reason people are interested in coliving is because they want to be social. But no one wants to live in a giant hotel–which sounds just as isolating as living in an apartment. Instead, they want to connect with people in a meaningful way. Sharing some space with strangers is becoming a more acceptable paradigm for city dwellers looking for connection. Based on the results of Ikea’s survey, it seems like no coliving company has really figured out the right balance between an economically feasible scale and a scale that favors human connections.

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