The Rise of Co-Living Spaces in Asian Cities

by Jane on Jan 5, 2024

Asia, home to 21 of the world's 30 largest cities, is a significant player in the global economy, contributing 38% of the world's goods and services. By 2020, it is projected to be the residence of half the global middle class, with Asian economies surpassing the combined economies of the rest of the world. This marks the start of the Asian century, characterized by rapid economic growth and significant lifestyle changes. One of the most notable trends in this transformation is the rise of co-living spaces, especially in the bustling economic centers of Asia.

Co-living spaces, increasingly popular in Asia, represent a shift in both working and living dynamics. These spaces are not only a result of millennials' preference for a sharing economy but also a response to evolving work and life patterns. They offer a unique combination of private living with opportunities for community engagement, paralleling the community-centric nature of co-working cultures.

Understanding Co-Living Spaces in Asia

Co-living spaces in Asia provide an innovative solution to the challenges of urban living. These spaces cater to a diverse population, including young professionals, students, and even expatriates. By offering a blend of personal and shared spaces, co-living facilitates both privacy and social interaction. Residents enjoy the benefits of affordable, flexible living arrangements without the burden of long-term leases or the isolation often experienced in traditional housing.

These co-living spaces are more than just a place to live; they are designed to foster a sense of community among residents. From shared kitchens and living areas to communal activities and events, co-living spaces promote interaction and networking. This aspect is particularly appealing to the younger generation who value experiences and social connections as much as practical living arrangements.

Co-Living's Appeal in High-Cost Urban Areas

In Asia's top economic hubs, where the cost of living is often prohibitively high, co-living spaces offer a practical and cost-effective housing solution. Cities like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo, known for their expensive rental markets, are seeing a growing trend of co-living spaces. These spaces provide an affordable alternative to traditional housing, especially for young professionals and expatriates who might otherwise struggle to find suitable accommodation in these cities.

Not only do co-living spaces offer financial benefits, but they also provide a supportive environment for networking and personal growth. For instance, the Zion Road condo development is a prime example of such a space where residents can enjoy the advantages of co-living. These modern accommodations serve as a launchpad for individuals establishing themselves in new cities, allowing them to connect with like-minded individuals and access a plethora of professional opportunities.

Cost-Effective Living in Asia's Expensive Cities

Cities like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, and Singapore, notorious for their high living costs, are experiencing a surge in co-living spaces. These spaces are not just about affordable housing; they also offer co-working areas and social activities. This combination is particularly appealing to expatriates and entrepreneurs, balancing the high cost of living with professional and networking opportunities.

Co-Living Caters to Millennials and the Nomadic Workforce

The rise of remote jobs and companies without physical headquarters is reshaping the workforce. In the Asia-Pacific region, there's a marked preference for flexible employment. Co-living spaces cater to this trend by providing flexible accommodations for short-term contracts, eliminating the need for rental deposits and furniture investments. This approach complements the use of traditional and co-working spaces, meeting the demands of a mobile workforce.

Regional Focus: Co-Living Trends in Key Asian Cities

Embracing Co-Living in China

In cities across Asia, including China, the concept of co-living is gaining popularity among Millennials. This trend is driven by escalating property prices and a growing desire for community and connection among like-minded individuals. In China, co-living has become a preferred housing option for students and young professionals, particularly those in the tech and creative sectors. These individuals seek a balance between private and communal spaces.

Myles Huang, a Research Director specializing in Capital Markets in Asia Pacific, describes co-living as a housing model where residents share living spaces, interests, and values. This model aligns with modern urban lifestyles that prioritize openness, sharing, and parallels trends in ride-sharing and co-working.

In Chinese cities like Chongqing and Guangzhou, the co-living operator You+ manages over 25 branches, providing accommodation for more than 10,000 people. Beijing's Haidan district, a hub for top universities and the tech sector, has become a focal point for co-living spaces, attracting a diverse mix of young people.

Hong Kong's Adaptation to Co-Living

In Hong Kong, where housing costs rank among the world's highest, diverse groups ranging from investment bankers to university students are turning to dormitory-style housing. Huang notes that co-living spaces, though varied in pricing, are generally more affordable than studio apartments. These spaces are also more spacious compared to the micro-apartments marketed in Hong Kong, some as small as 20 square meters.

A recent report by JLL highlights that about 0.8 percent of Hong Kong's population, or an estimated 58,500 young professionals, are potential co-living residents. This strong demand has caught the attention of budget and boutique hotel operators, who are now considering entering the co-living market.

Singapore's Emerging Co-Living Scene

Similarly, in Singapore, rising rents and the diminishing prospects of homeownership are influencing Millennials' housing choices. A start-up named Hmlet has recently secured US$1.5 million in funding to develop co-living spaces, responding to the growing need for economical, practical, and sociable housing solutions. Yoan Kamalski, the founder of Hmlet, is optimistic about Singapore's adoption of the co-living trend, given the increasing demand from young people seeking affordable housing options.

The co-living model, with its emphasis on community and affordability, is reshaping the urban housing landscape in Asia, presenting a viable alternative for Millennials navigating the challenges of modern city living.

Regulated and Affordable Housing for Young Professionals in India

India has seen a significant rise in interstate migration, doubling to 4.5% from 2001 to 2011. For young professionals and students moving to new cities, finding affordable and reliable housing is a major challenge. Traditional real estate options are often unprofessional and inflexible. Co-living spaces provide a solution by offering regulated, affordable, and professionally-managed homes. These spaces also facilitate social integration for newcomers through community-oriented activities.


Co-living spaces, alongside coworking spaces and social clubs, are revolutionizing the real estate industry in Asia. They offer practical, affordable alternatives that align with the needs of a dynamic, connected, and community-oriented population. As Asia steps into a new era of economic dominance, these innovative living solutions are a testament to the continent's adaptability and forward-thinking approach.

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