STATUS UPDATE: Status of Coliving in SoCal During a Global Pandemic

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing social distancing and quarantining, what is the status of coliving in SoCal these days?

Coliving is communal living for adults, sometimes built around a common theme, like the arts or living healthy. It can be very affordable for young people and a great option for short-term housing

OCSN asked Christine McDannell, CEO of Kndrd, and author of The Coliving Code, to provide a status update.

Here’s what McDannell said about the status of coliving now:

OCSN: What are the current co-living residences in SoCal?

McDannell: SoCal has definitely seen a quick surge in coliving. They’re all across areas like DTLA, Venice, Santa Monica, the Arts District, Hollywood, Los Feliz, Westwood, Marina del Rey, and Echo Park.

Really all of the high-demand areas, which is great to see. To my knowledge, not a single one has closed up shop, since (the pandemic) began.

OCSN: What are the main ones?

McDannell: There is Upstart (see related article here.) Also, Cohaus, Outsite, Podshare, Starcity, and Haven, just to name a few, with new ones breaking ground as we speak that will be open two to three years out after their ground-up construction is complete.

(Haven is looking to expand to San Diego, according to news reports).

OCSN: What precautions/protocols should they be taking/implementing to ensure their residents are safe now and going forward?

McDannell: It’s super important to be more safe than sorry. Luckily, I’ve seen coliving spaces going above and beyond to make sure that residents not only stay safe, but feel safe and connected to the community, despite the distance.

The best protocols I recommend are to limit capacity in common areas to accommodate more spacing between people, amping up deep cleaning frequency everywhere, and educating residents on best practices and any new precautions as they evolve.

OCSN: What is the current popularity of co-living in SoCal?

McDannell: Coliving in SoCal has been growing pretty rapidly and the demand is still on the rise. Compared to the market rate of standard units in the area, coliving spaces tend to be a solid 20% cheaper.

This makes it possible to find a great living space in the ideal location (which is key in SoCal), plus the benefits of a community and network which are so important to mental health as well as professional growth here.

It’s been so cool to see different niches pop up for different properties, from artists to entrepreneurs to health enthusiasts. Everyone can find their tribe plus a more affordable living space.

OCSN: What are the benefits of coliving during this pandemic?

McDannell: Great question. I’ve actually noticed that there are some specific benefits to coliving during times like this. First of all, coliving has more amenities and provides residents access to done-for-you services far more than traditional housing.

These features, paired with the integration with technology in many coliving spaces, make it easier for residents to stay inside and self-isolate in their private spaces instead of having to leave in search of the things they need, which would risk infecting themselves or others.

Also, the frequent cleaning and onsite services embedded in coliving helps to prevent potential spread because they are provided in-house — instead of requiring residents to venture out. This creates more of a closed system where there’s far less accidental introduction of infection.

Coliving has more amenities and services, making it more self-contained than a standard living space. This can make it safer and more sustainable during times of limited mobility.

Luckily, all the operators I’ve talked to around the world have handled this so well and so proactively. I think it’s because coliving runs on very tight systems as is, so it’s very easy to add this additional layer of systems to make sure that residents stay healthy and safe.

Not to mention, there are so many groups right now that need a short-term living space. Whether it’s digital nomads who are stuck in a city or country, students who’s dorms are closed down, or people needing community, the need is there.

OCSN: What are the risks of coliving during this pandemic?

McDannell: Of course, coliving has more people in a building that some standard properties. It can be a risk if the operator, (like any building owner), isn’t taking the necessary precautions to keep social distancing or sanitize consistently, because more people might be touching common surfaces than in a normal living arrangement.

It’s also worth pointing out that very few people have gotten sick in any coliving operation around the world, thankfully.

There was one case in a 2500-unit community and one in an 800-unit community, both of whom they isolated for 14 days. The other people were fine.

Plus, they were supported. People could bring them food and anything they needed so they didn’t have to go out and put others at risk. For this reason I actually think you’re better off being isolated with your coliving community as opposed to being isolated alone.

OCSN: Anything else you’d like to add?

McDannell: We’ve been thrilled to see how well coliving is handling this very unique time. On our planet, community is more important than ever. I have always believed that humans working together and bonding is the key to getting us out of challenges that come, and this situation is no different.

About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

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