Sharing is living, living by sharing


Sharing is living, living by sharing

Living and sharing with other people is growing in popularity. Shared living, co-living and cohousing projects emerge all around the world. However, the desire to live with other people might be growing, but the concept of co-living has been around since families and individuals started moving in together in “bofællesskaber” in Denmark during the 1960s.

Traced by:
Marie Nygaard Sørlien

The world’s growing equality and economy is paving the way for even more people to be able to afford a home of their own. However, living with people outside our own family is becoming increasingly popular.

Shared living is an arrangement where people share and come together on certain aspects of everyday home-life. In most cases this involves a shared living room, kitchen, and bathroom. With larger shared living communities, residents might have separate homes and come together over maintenance of the shared outdoor spaces or enjoy dinner together once a week in the common house. Shared living comes in many shapes and forms!

The modern theory of intentional co-living grew in Denmark during the 1960s. Families and individuals who were unhappy with the existing possibilities of living, moved in together in “bofællesskaber”, which translates to “living communities”. The world’s first intentional shared living community was Sættedammen in Hillerød, which was built in 1972. Soon after many co-living initiatives followed in Denmark. Two years later, in 1974, it has been estimated that there were more than 15.000 shared living communities in Denmark!

Since then, the concept has grown far beyond the Nordic country’s borders, with thousands of shared living communities around the globe today. The sharing-business is booming! And the concept has evolved to involve shared living in various forms, sizes, and extents.

In Auckland, New Zealand - almost as far away as you can get from the Nordics – the country’s first cohousing community, Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood, was completed in 2008 and counts 67 residents of all ages, several ethnic groups, various backgrounds and a range of economic circumstances. The then future owners even took part in the design and planning of Earthsong, which is an example of a larger shared living community, boasting a 340m2 common house where residents share laundry and come together twice a week for dinner.

More than 8000 kilometers north of Auckland, in the Japanese city of Nagoya, everything is shared under the same roof by the residents of Share House LT Josai. The house has 13 bedrooms. The only room that has a door, apart from the residents’ private rooms, is the bathroom. Everything else – dining, kitchen and living areas - is out in the open. And in this case, the open runs across three levels in the middle of the house!

The concept of shared living has even gone online! In the USA, Hong Kong and Singapore, online platforms like Hmlet, Roomrs, Welive, and Common provide to-go shared homes. Everything’s taken care of. All you have to do is book a room and start co-living.

Over the last 70 years, the urban population has more than sextupled. And it isn’t slowing down. The UN predicts that around 2.5 billion more people will be living in cities by 2050. So, shared living might show to not only be a fad. Shared living might very well prove to be a necessity. Is it likely that we might all have to get used to living with other people?

A little more info

  • Shared living communities are usually deliberately constructed to encourage social interaction. Read more about the history of co-housing.
  • Thinking about jumping ship and joining the Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood in New Zealand or the Share House in Japan? Read more about the initiatives here and here.
  • More and more millennials turn to co-living in the USA, sacrificing privacy for perks.