Historically, humans have lived collectively and communally for generations. However, in recent years, society has shifted towards solitary living situations, which is having a deeply negative impact on our collective mental health. In addition to living alone; higher rates of divorce, remote working, dependence on technology, and escalating urbanization, are all additional factors to consider when it comes to the loneliness epidemic we are currently facing.
Combined with record-high housing prices, the Covid-19 Pandemic, and a generational shift in priorities, it can be argued that we have lost our sense of collective. Coliving offers a fresh perspective on an age-old concept that many consider a prime solution to this mental health crisis.
Struggling with loneliness and the mental health challenges that come along with it is something that most people can relate to. In fact, up to 1 in every 5 Canadians is lonely. Part of the issue is that more and more Canadians are living alone, 28% of households, according to Statistics Canada. Some experts have even gone as far to argue that ‘being lonely for a prolonged period of time is more harmful to a person’s health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day.’. So what are we missing? When it comes to aiding in the healing of our global mental health crisis, co-living could be the solution many people desperately need.
As reported by BMC Public Health, “the co-housing model can be positively associated with health outcomes through psychosocial determinants of health, such as increased social support, sense of community and physical, emotional and economic security, as well as reduced social isolation.”. The advantages felt through coliving are not only engineered to ease our minds but are also shown to help to enforce better habits, be held accountable, and foster a support system unique to the shared housing model.
The kitchen is the best space for sharing meals, stories or day-to-day activity.
Coliving is being embraced not only as a key solution to the loneliness epidemic but also to the affordable housing crisis. In Making Affordable Housing a Reality in Cities, a report published by the World Economic Forum, coliving is “proposed as a solution to making cities more habitable as they expand in the near future to contain an estimated 70% of the world’s population.” Securing affordable and available housing is a reality that all global cities are facing, and Canada is no exception.
According to Statistics Canada, 1,644,900 Canadians are in core housing need, meaning “they are living in unsuitable, inadequate, or unaffordable accommodations.”. It is clear that Canada needs to rethink its approach to affordable housing, and coliving offers a multi-faceted opportunity to address the issues of supply, affordability, mental health, and loneliness simultaneously.
In addition to the substantial mental health and affordability benefits, the rise of remote working has also proven the attractiveness of the co-living model. In a time of global fluidity in the workplace, coliving removes a large piece of the fear and uncertainty individuals can feel when moving to a new city, especially if only for a short period of time. Removing the stress of hunting for apartments in a foreign city, finding roommates, and furnishing a space, coliving gives remote, gig, and ex-pat workers the ability to focus on the excitement of a new experience rather than the anxiety.
Coliving is the ideal way for people to learn about themselves and others, to work on their personal skills and development outside of the workplace, and create a genuine community that goes beyond just being neighbours. Coliving “establishes a balance in which members feel there is no compromise between space, privacy, location, productivity, and fulfillment” without breaking the bank.
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