Will Co-Living Survive In Singapore's Fast-Changing Rental Market?
Singapore Business Review|April-Jun 2020
Landlords still favours the flexibility to cash out on their investment properties at short notice, so most developers still prefer the traditional build-to-sell model as rents continue to escalate.

Co-living firms and traditional serviced residences are grabbing the attention of different target markets. Co-living spaces are targeting travellers who are looking for cheaper rooms for long-term stays, whilst the latter are branching out and obtaining hotel licenses to be able to attract tourists only staying for short-term. Flexible living is still a trend, but is the coliving model viable for the long-run?

For this year’s Serviced Residences Survey, Singapore Business Review added co-living assets as the model continues to boom. In fact, newcomer lyf Funan, a co-living establishment by The Ascott, grabbed top spot with the most number of units at 329.

Coming in at second place is Ascott’s Citadines Rochor Singapore with 320 units, which just launched last December 2019. Next in line is Great World Serviced Apartments, which used to be SBR’s top serviced residences with 304 rooms. Oakwood Premier AMTD Singapore (formerly ‘Oakwood Premiere OUE Singapore’) followed with 268 units, whilst rounding up the top five is Frasers Suites with 255 units.

Overall, the 36 largest serviced residences in Singapore have 5,939 units, 15% up from the 5,162 units posted in 2019’s rankings.

For a time, co-living has been a buzzword across the sector. With cheaper rents that are already inclusive of all amenities, the sector targets professionals who can’t afford to buy a house or rent an apartment given the rising rents in the city.

For space-starved Singapore, the concept of spaces with shared facilities is indeed ideal. However, the government think tank Center for Liveable Cities (CLC) stated in its 2019 report that the Lion City’s co-living sector, which emerged in the mid-2010s, is still a fledgling.

JLL’s 2018 data on co-living firms found that they only occupy 1% of Singapore’s total available space, with the most well-known ones being Hmlet, China-based Mamahome, Ascott and COVE. “This is surprising since co-living firms, unlike their counterparts from the home-sharing and ride-sharing industries, face no direct institutional or legal barriers to growth,” CLC stated.

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