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Green Is The New Black

Is Co-Living The Answer to Sustainable Living?

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Cities are currently home to half of the world’s population and produce around 75% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s only expected to get worse; by 2050, 75% of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities. As humans continue to innovate to solve the climate crisis, could co-living be the solution that already exists?

Communal living is being touted as a solution to a whole world of problems from rising rents, growing populations, overcrowded cities and the environmental problems that stem from it. It’s also become an attractive option for millennials looking to immerse themselves into communities where they can connect, learn and flourish in an affordable and hassle-free living space. Sounds too good to be true, right? We decide to check ourselves into a co-living space and find out.

Last year, just before the Conscious Festival in Singapore, we needed to find a place put up some of our guests and staff for the festival. Rather than a hotel, we chose Hmlet so we could actually experience the concept of co-living. Hmlet is a co-living space and a social lifestyle platform that encourages shared values of mobility, sustainability and social responsibility here in Singapore. They also have outposts in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong with several more planned — and regardless of where you are, Hmlet is a place where you know you can enjoy comfort, community, flexibility and connection — all in one place. But it’s about a lot more than that; it’s about the sharing of assets and by doing that, they are doing good things for the environment. This is what we learned about co-living.

Co-living encourages sustainable living through communal sharing

Hmlet 16 Rees Street - Sydney AU

This roof terrace at Hmlet 16 Rees Street, Sydney was made for BBQs & beers

The bedrock of sustainable co-living is the sharing of assets.  Living as a community encourages this idea, which means good things for the environment. Co-living also helps those under one roof ensure nothing goes to waste — assets of all kinds are swapped, borrowed and shared. At Hmlet, we found that all the appliances and furnishings are shared and available for everyone to use. We also found that community members share resources such as belongings, transport and food. Think of it as being back in college, but more refined.

Co-living reduces its impact through sustainably designed spaces

studio apartment

Clean lines and conscious choices at Hmlet Tiong Poh Road, SG

The construction of co-living spaces is often done with sustainability in mind and this extends to interiors as well. Hmlet’s interior design team make conscious choices to work with sustainable materials and like-minded suppliers. A lot of the furniture you’ll find at Hmlet is sourced from suppliers who use FSC-accredited wood, like Ethnicraft. They are also moving away from animal materials such as leather, whose production process contributes significantly to the climate crisis. Efficiency in design is another consideration, and you’ll see that in Hmlet’s spacious beds. The frames are specifically selected for the smart design that uses less wood. As they scale, they are always looking at ways to be greener, including sourcing more and more of their products from sustainable sources so that they’re closer in line with the expectations of their members.

Co-living is more affordable than traditional renting

Hmlet Zion Apartments - HK

Functional and affordable living at Hmlet Zion Apartments, Hong Kong

Although the price varies from city to city, length of stay and type of room (there are several), it’s easy to see how affordable co-living is and why it’s being lauded as a solution to sky-high rents. Let us break it down for you. The cheapest room at Hmlet The Sail in Singapore starts at SG$1,130/month with utilities like electricity, gas and WiFi included. If you’re looking for a weekly rental, The Small room at Hmlet Cantonment starts at SG$870/week with utilities also included.

Now, here’s how it compares to a standard rental in Singapore. According to Expatistan, the monthly rent for a 45 m2 (480 sqft) furnished apartment in a normal area ranged from SG$1,721 to SG$2,627 per month plus another SG$108 for utilities, and another SG$43 for Internet. You do the math.

Co-living provides a practical solution to growing populations and overcrowded cities


Japanese minimalism makes the most of the space at Hmlet Sasazuka, Tokyo

Not only is co-living a solution to the housing crisis, but it’s also being praised as a smart solution to growing populations. As population density increases all over the world with people flocking to cities, the efficiency and organisation of urban spaces are paramount. But with the right management skills and an increase of co-living and shared housing, the burden on cities and their resources will be lessened. Co-living spaces also take up less land area compared to individual housing as they house many people within one building. There is little room for private cars in overcrowded cities, too. Sharing is a solution to this (and sustainability in general). In Australia, Hmlet partners with Popcar, a car-sharing startup that is testament to the growing shift towards the sharing economy. With 90 per cent of urban population growth expected to take place in Africa and Asia (according to Medium), the region is on track to benefit from more co-living spaces and Hmlet is on track to provide them.

Co-living is encouraging a more sustainable mindset generally

It’s true. Once you’re in there and practising the principles of co-living, you’re more inclined to take what you’ve learned and adapt it to the outside world. As the climate continues to change and the population continues to swell, it’s important that we embrace #LittleGreenSteps in every aspect of our life. Even if you’re not looking to switch up your permanent dwelling, the next time you need a hotel, opt for co-living instead, and it might end up being an all-around life-enhancing experience.

Hmlet co-living is in Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney and Tokyo with locations in Melbourne and Brisbane coming soon. Connect with them here.

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Olivia is a bon vivant with an insatiable appetite for...everything. Upon being horrified at the amount of rubbish she produced in a single day, her journey towards finding a better balance between being extravagant yet sustainable began. Like most obsessions, down the rabbit hole she went and it wasn’t long before she decided to shift her sustainable preachings from Friday nights after too much wine to every day at Green Is The New Black. Olivia is still trying to figure all this ‘the end of the world’ stuff out, so she is keepin’ it real, one super small #LittleGreenStep at a time. Be like Olivia.