Dubai: Why more tenants are opting for co-living spaces

A relatively new concept, it is a place where people interact, and share work space and common areas

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By Waheed Abbas; Visuals by Rahul Gajjar

Published: Wed 8 Jun 2022, 8:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 10 Jun 2022, 1:07 PM

Tuoyo Sakpere, a Londoner, is new to Dubai. He did not go through the hassle of hunting for an apartment, signing documents at the real estate office, registering for a utility connection or other rigmaroles involved in signing up for a rented flat in the UAE. He chose a co-living accommodation.

Though a relatively new concept in Dubai, co-living is the place where people interact, share work space and common areas, and get to meet like-minded people.

“I chose co-living because I am new to Dubai and it provides an opportunity to network and meet a lot of other people. This is a new country, so it’s easier to meet people. Convenience and cost are other reasons as apartments are furnished. Then you have a gym, lounge pool, library and many other facilities here. It’s like having everything in one building,” says Sakpere, a freelancer.

Though co-living is similar to the shared housing concept, it’s more organised, legal and controlled by a professional landlord. While shared housing, which is pretty common in the Emirates, is kind of a grey area from a legal perspective.

Home for one, home for all

Sakpere is among hundreds of Dubai residents who have chosen this form of accommodation, which is fast rising in popularity.

Hive JVC, developed by ARM Holding, is a popular co-living project where tenants share all the amenities such as co-working space, rooftop swimming pool, open-air cinema, event amphitheatre, and sports and BBQ facilities among others.

Bass Ackermann, founder of Hive Coliv, which manages Hive JVC, says co-living has been quite popular among young expatriates who are in their late 20s and early 30s.

Flexibility and convenience are key in this concept, he adds. “The fact is that people can just bring their bag and move in without worrying about Dewa, Ejari and furnishing, as rents include everything. And if the tenant has to leave in case of a personal emergency or for any other reason, they can leave with just one month’s notice. It’s plug-and-play.”

Here, he explains all the amenities that can be found in this co-living space:

‘Fairly priced’

Madiyar Ismagulov, another resident of Hive JVC, finds the concept “sweet”. “I met many new people here. It is a nice place to develop yourself and talk to a lot of people. There are a lot of things to do like tennis and swimming etc.”

Ismagulov was living in the same area before he moved to Hive JVC. “I found co-living fairly priced and it’s actually cheaper than my previous residence. My previous residence was more luxurious and 'Dubai-ish', but this one is different; it’s Dh1,500 per month - so more economical.”

Tenants in Hive JVC, which has been designed for people aged 18-plus where bachelors and couples can live without kids, will sign an annual lease agreement, but they will pay on a monthly basis.

“We don’t accept any cheques, so you can pay online. If you need to move, you can cancel at one month’s notice. However, we don’t encourage people to come for a week or two.”

Ackermann suggested that places like Jumeirah Village Circle, Business Bay, Meydan, and Global Village — which are secondary locations but well located — are believed to be quite popular for these kinds of concepts.

Who are the tenants?

Ackermann revealed during an interview with Khaleej Times that the majority of the tenants are entrepreneurs and self-employed people — around 60 per cent self-employed and 40 per cent employees.

“So we see a lot of new entrepreneurs, start-up founders, digital nomads, people in tech and creatives here. It’s such a nice mix. For example, we have a lady who designs websites for other residents; another woman is a teacher who gives English lessons to a lot of residents.

"Then, we have a personal trainer who is training people in the building. We have a yoga instructor putting on yoga classes for the residents. People support and interact with each other. But traditional buildings are not designed for such kind of interactions and positive frictions,” says the Hive Coliv CEO.

Why co-living is popular

At Hive JVC, people meet and greet each other and also host events. “We had people meet each other here and fall in love. The nice thing is that if you’re a private person or an introvert, you don’t have to do this. You have your own private apartment. So it’s the best of both,” Ackermann says.

Mohammad Al Shehhi, CEO of ARM Holding, said: “Co-living spaces have emerged as the nexus of convenience, flexibility and community. Hive Coliv provides a homely environment for expats, alongside like-minded individuals, evoking a sense of togetherness — with a range of premium shared facilities, and discreet, private spaces.

“As an evolution of the sharing economy, co-living is an ideal real estate sub-asset class for us, both in terms of investments and scalability.”

Dubai’s demographics

Swapnil Pillai, associate director for research at Savills Middle East, says co-living is an interesting concept and has been very well received in other mature global property markets.

“In Dubai, the demographics may work in favour of this segment as these units are specifically targeted to a younger population of working professionals who are keen to explore community living and get access to networking opportunities.

"In addition to the fully furnished units, these developments offer shared community spaces to work, play, meet and eat. Some even organise weekly or frequent social activities at no extra cost. As these developments offer accommodations at all-inclusive cost, they appeal to the growing number of people who have recently moved to the city,” adds Pillai.

With increasingly more first-timers to Dubai finding job opportunities here, he said, this is perhaps a good way for them to experience what the emirate has to offer and also connect with like-minded individuals.

“However, with the number of amenities on offer, many of the newer co-living developments can command premium pricing over conventional apartment units,” he added.

More players exploring market

As co-living is gaining popularity in the emirate, other developers are also looking at exploring this new sector.

Danube Properties, a leading Dubai-based developer, is also considering tapping this opportunity.

Rizwan Sajan, founder and chairman of Danube Group, said Jebel Ali and surrounding areas - which have a lot of offices - will be quite popular for co-living.

“I think Al Furjan would be a good place for co-living and most of the takers will be bachelors and couples without children. Many professionals and freelancers are coming here, so this is an ideal place for them to have their own room where they can invite guests too,” he said.


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