In China, more and more youngsters are choosing to get married late or they remain single despite the pressure from society and parents. According to a survey in 2015, there were 58 million singles in China and 20 million of them in the age group of 20-35 years. First-tier cities--Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen--attract many of these young educated singles who move in search of jobs. But expensive housing prices and shifting millennial mindsets have made rental accommodation search an uphill task for many.
Apartment hunt can be discouraging in China, with agencies offering old and dirty rooms at high prices. But a few startups are now focusing to disrupt this rental space and find a solution to these problems with co-living concept.
According to a report "Bridging the housing gap" by real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), co-living is gaining traction in Asia, particularly in markets like Mainland China, where affordable housing is a concern.
While similar concept of flat sharing is popular in many countries, what differentiates co-living spaces is they are professionally managed rather than informally arranged. The co-living spaces are being set up near big colleges, technology parks and prime industrial areas.
Ziroom, a China-based apartment rental services company founded in 2011, started to offer renovated flats called "Meeta" in the range of USD 312-USD 468 a month in Fengtai district. Ziroom found a market potential in this segment and started quality offering – Internet and housekeeping once every two weeks, pay through app service-- to Chinese millennials.
Co-living is still very much a new concept China. In China, the concept of co-living started with YOU+ International Youth Community among other operators that emerged in 2012. By the end of 2016, there were nearly 90 operators across the country. According to JLL report, Vanke Port Apartment, one of China's largest operators, managed more than 60,000 units. Meanwhile, YOU+ operated 16 properties, Mofang expanded to about 15,000 units, Ziroom operated 7 properties and Coming Space managed 10,000 units.
Ziroom has tried to create an attractive atmosphere for young single professionals with offering ranging from individual studio rooms to shared spaces. The company has installed some sophisticated smart-home systems that can be controlled from the app.
“In our apartment building for singles, facilities are spacious and full of light, with common spaces for greenhouses where one can feel nature in the middle of the big city. People can socialize in the common areas, make friends and network with like-minded people,” Xiong Lin, CEO and founder of Ziroom said.
Some of the apartments are divided in different theme categories according to different personalities. For example, one area is for the more quiet tenants and other area is for noisier and chattier ones. On each door, there is a small card in which we can learn about the tenant’s hobbies and interests, to promote socializing, meeting people with similar interests.
The building management will also organize fun activities every now and then such as climbing, wine tasting, handicraft making among others. Participants in these activities will be rewarded with M coins which they can in turn exchange for services and discounts.