Blog – Is coliving the answer to urban loneliness?

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Blog
  • Post comments:0 Comments

Is coliving the answer to urban loneliness? 

Last week we joined a Co-liv event discussing urban loneliness and how coliving can help fight against this growing issue. Co-liv is a non-profit organization, ecosystem and do-tank whose mission is to guide and empower the coliving movement worldwide. We talked about why it’s so prevalent in big cities and how the situation can improve. We at YGL took a deeper dive into urban loneliness. It starts with families, friends and communities that will support you and create a connection. But four key elements play a role:

Governments: provide policies and a leadership role while encouraging networking for sharing, learning, and innovation.

Local authorities and public health centres: which provide health approaches and commission services through well-being boards and provisioning community spaces.

Employers: which provide increased support to employees, customers, and the communities they serve.  

Volunteers and community: which aid in building personal connections and community.

This last one is where coliving comes in as well.

How can community living decrease loneliness?

Loneliness is not new, but we do increasingly recognize it as one of the most pressing public health issues. Feeling lonely often is linked to early death paired with smoking or obesity. Experts estimate that between 5% and 18% of UK, adults feel lonely often or always. When we feel socially rejected, it triggers a response in our brain similar to experiencing physical pain. But how do we understand loneliness?

First, we should look at the underlying factors like social and cultural influences, identity and personality and situations that play a huge role in loneliness. These elements shape our expectations and need for relationships. Also, sometimes we reach a life stage where the balance between the relationship we have and those we would like to have changed. By understanding the factors that played a role in some people’s lives, we can communicate and handle situations better. That is why it is important to get to know your guests, have conversations with them and as a coliving provider, be there to listen.

Also, moving to a new city or losing a job triggers a feeling inside us, and often it can be loneliness. Feelings and personal thoughts shape us and our situations which raise many questions leading you to experience loneliness. We know that it can be tough to start a new life in a new city with a new job or a new partner. But how do you find people to connect with and befriend in a new city? Socializing is intimidating for many people and for some, it can even be intimidating at work. Coliving fills these gaps because most people are in the same situation. Coliving can be a safe place where people can move to since it creates a natural social life by offering a community that already exists due to living the same experience. 

Of course, you might ask yourself; how will a community in shared housing reduce loneliness? The answer will be; to place the community at the heart of the design of housing developments and planning. By researching how community-led housing could reduce loneliness and understanding the importance of mental health, a coliving operator can let their guests leave healthier and happier than before.

Some examples of coliving spaces working on fighting loneliness

During the event, we all agreed on the fact that activities that bring the community together can help guests connect easily while they work on their mental well-being. As a result, many coliving operators, therefore, provide activities such as; Yoga, meditation, working out together in an open space, cooking together, hanging out together or planning weekly events whereby everyone is welcome. 

We also discussed the importance of coliving operators to also look out for the more introverted types. Some people tend to shy away from organized events. They might need more intimate get-togethers, small chats during lunch or a little help encouraging them to join. It is crucial to never assume people to join in and be social naturally. As a coliving operator, you have the power to make the experience unforgettable for each type of person.


In Javea, Spain, a coliving operator named Sun and Co is doing a great job at building strong relationships and trust within their community. Because they are a more intimate, small operator, they lend more attention to their guests. They make it a habit to have dinner and really get to know each other. Excursions and sightseeing together is a regular thing they do at Sun and Co. 


UKO in Australia is amazing at hosting events for their guests to work on their mental health. Whether it is working out in the sun as a group or doing some refreshing yoga to clear your mind from work, stress or anything negative in your life. 


Zoku is a great example of a bigger coliving operator still able to care for the mental well-being of their guests. They host weekly events, like a meditation workshop or organized dinners with housemates.

“Every Tuesday at 7 pm, our Zoku community members can join us for a delicious dinner: because we all know the best memories are shared around the table! ”

Survey results of community’s impact on loneliness in the Philippines

“Mytown” in the Philippines is a great example of how people respond to community living. During a survey, a whopping 64% of My Town’s residents mentioned how living in their community has made them less lonely in 2019, even before the pandemic. 

And during COVID-19, seven out of ten tenants believe that MyTown cultivated an environment where they can make new friends and connections despite the lockdowns. Three in four tenants indicated MyTown helped increase their awareness of mental health, and two in three tenants felt that MyTown helped them be more connected with others.⠀

“These results are the outcomes of hard and continuous work by MyTown to make its co-living portfolio more than just a collection of properties; from its tagline (‘beyond accommodation’) and its social media handles (‘#colivingthedream’) to its mission (to structurally ‘Improve the quality of life of young professionals’ in the Philippines) and operational innovations, MyTown walks the talk around wellness”. – Frame

How to address loneliness through co-living communities. (n.d.). Retrieved from

What is Co-liv

Co-liv was founded under the name Purehouse Lab by Ryan Fix, who ran a coliving space for 80 people in Brooklyn. In 2016, Co-Liv hosted the first summit in San Francisco, where a large group of coliving operators gathered together for the first time. At present, the non-profit organization is fulfilling its mission to help the coliving scene flourish globally. 

Jackson Torchia was the keynote speaker during the event and is also head of the membership. After working in Applied Behaviour Analysis for several years, Jackson joined the coliving scene at the beginning of its rise to prominence and has been a part of three major schemes in the UK, including two of The Collective’s coliving buildings, Old Oak and Canary Wharf. 

Jackson explained how coliving could form part of the solution to urban loneliness for those that are part of this growing movement. We brainstormed on different parts regarding urban loneliness and thought of what could be improved and what is a good example worth pursuing. The UK Government’s 2018 “Loneliness strategy” document the main focus and how community-based living models, such as coliving, fit into the larger picture of combating the mental health epidemic. Read on to get to know how coliving can dramatically decrease feeling lonely.