Singapore is a melting pot of cultures. For most expats, it has been a place to live and make a home. However, the last couple of years have seen dramatic economic changes due to the pandemic and uncertain work prospects. Things have changed drastically, and the expats or overseas professionals are exploring newer options for residence, with co-living now topping the charts. With an increasing rental trend, expats are now happily shifting to one-room apartments and studio rooms for rent in co-living units.
Singapore has always been the preferred choice for all those who have left their country in search of greener pastures. The country’s unique hybrid culture welcomes people from across the globe and has made it a favourite destination among expats. The ‘Singapore Spirit’ of multiculturalism has been the driving force for most expats to inhabit the island.
There has been a growing shift towards co-living options. The foremost driving factor for this shift is more and more expats seeking convenience, flexibility and value for money rather than spending time in swanky apartments. With convenient, all-inclusive service packages, an ensuite room in a co-living unit is a clear win among various available rental choices. In addition, leases start from six nights to a typical twelve months lease.
Take the case of 31-year-old Vietnamese software developer Simon Nguyen. He had been sharing a rented condominium with friends for more than seven years. However, the pandemic forced his flatmates to move back home.
Nguyen and his wife then decided to rent an ensuite studio in a co-living complex. With amenities in a close range as in any expat-focussed housing, the couple could not only save more on their rent but also get a chance to spread their wings in a connected world. As a cherry on the cake, they had a shared gym and lounge there. Co-living offered Nguyen a balance between low-maintenance personal space and a congenial communal environment with other tenants.
Similarly, commodity trader Jung Woo Hwang embraced shared living. According to Jung, co-living gave him the ease of settling in and the flexibility to choose other residential options in case he wanted to move around in the near future. To top that, he managed to cut down on his current rent by shifting to a co-living room for rent in Singapore compared to when he rented a condominium.
Coliwoo, one such co-living sanctuary for expats in Singapore, has observed that the room demand from expats has risen 10% over the past year. Coliwoo has five residential buildings with 928 rooms island-wide and another 641 rooms in the pipeline. Today, international students and expats constitute 67% of its residents. Workers who arrive in Singapore on short-term contracts also look for these living options, boosting the demand.
Kelvin Lim, executive chairman of the LHN Group Pte, which owns Coliwoo, has emphasised the fact that co-living is all about “distraction-free living”. Expats, who have been living without their family at hand, or those who have been caged up at home and miss the sense of community, can find every bit of social aspect in co-living units.
Some of these studio rooms for rent offer shared facilities such as kitchen, dining, and laundry rooms. For expats looking forward to breaking the shackles of loneliness, co-living provides the bright chance of meeting new people and making new friends. It often comes with great opportunities to socialise, such as community programs and activities. Cultural immersions, networking and skill-sharing events allow a quick opportunity to make friends.
The co-living rooms are aesthetically designed to support long hours of work from home during and after the pandemic with well-fitted workstations. This means they now don’t have to battle the hassles of arranging furniture or fixtures to work from home. What’s more, you get additional shelves for some extra storage in the room so that you can conveniently stack your belongings.
Depending on the size of the co-living accommodation, expats can stay in a close-knit community or be part of a more extensive network of working professionals in a large apartment complex. On top of that, they get ample chances to interact with a continuously growing expat community living under similar conditions, usually keen to build new relationships.
Co-living is fast becoming an attractive housing option for expats as it offers the biggest advantage to them: affordable living with peace of mind and an emphasis on work-life balance. They can avail themselves of flexible living options for various durations with all amenities at their disposal. Combine this sociable living with access to a rich community of international friends and a safe and secure environment and you can understand why expats prefer this mode of accommodation.