El Economista interviewed some Coliving and Coworking keyplayers, Urban Campus being one of them, to analyze how Covid and Social Distancing have impacted the sector.
You can read the full article, Coworking and Coliving Transformed In Times of Social Distancing, here in Spanish, or keep reading for the translated English version.
‘Coworking’ and ‘Coliving’: How have they transformed in times of social distancing?
Flexibility to adapt to users has been key during the pandemic
The creation of an engaged community is an aspect highly valued by tenants
In recent years the real estate sector has adapted to new ways of living and working with concepts such as coliving and coworking. The pandemic & it’s subsequent sanitary restrictions have led these businesses to develop health & safety protocols and adapt disinfection and cleaning measures to provide safe spaces. Different agents in the sector agree that flexibility with users and the importance of the community have been the key criteria in the new models they have put in place. Begging the question, what is a shared space in the age of social distancing?
In the case of coliving, at the toughest point of the pandemic, “occupancy percentages fell and rents were renegotiated, both with tenants and between building managers and owners. However there have been no major impacts on assets managed by already efficient operators and in the business sector itself, “explains Javier Caro, director of Coliving at CBRE Spain.
Laia Comas, CEO of Inèdit Barcelona, explained that their business began to recover around October, with a rebound in demands. He added though, “reservations are made at the last minute, from one day to the next, whereas before reservations were forecasted, on average, three months in advance”. Between the months of October and December they reached an occupancy of approximately 60%, recovering earlier than expected. However the new wave of Covid cases in January and subsequent lockdowns, again caused reservations to be made last minute but they have succeeded to maintain an occupancy of approximately 60%, and forecast that between now and April they will be able to go up to 70%“.
Coliving has transformed in times of social distancing
Adapting to the current situation has been one of Inèdit Barcelona’s objectives. They decided to give maximum flexibility in making and canceling reservations. “In the rental contracts we have added the Covid Clause where it is indicated that if for any reason related to the disease you need to cancel the contract, you can do so without penalty or notice,” says Comas.”Coliving has aroused more interest because the first confinement was hard and many people prefer to be accompanied in a community and with a team, to support any inconveniences”.
Urban Campus agrees with Inèdit on this point. Marta Torres, Marketing Manager of Urban Campus, shared with us “we have quite a few testimonials from people who say that if they were to experience confinement again, they would still remain in our spaces”. The possibility of remote visits and check-ins, the use of technology to reduce capacity of common areas to 50% and fun but remote community events, are some of the measures that Urban Campus have put in place to guarantee the safety of the residents. Torres explains that “we avoided all check-ins until the state of alarm was lifted, because we did not want to introduce new people into the coliving”. “Since June we have been increasing occupancy thanks to the change from international to more national clients. We continue to have 40% of international demands but we have managed to increase the national ones”. In September they reached an occupancy of 90% and right now it is around 95%.
The pandemic has been a great catalyst for the Coliving concept. Javier Caro believes that during 2021 more international operators will arrive with force in Spain, creating thousands of beds, to respond to this movement. A demand that has been waiting a long time for a response. “We also think that there will be specialized coliving as has happened with the coworking market” explains Caro.
The adaptation of ‘coworking’
The impact of Covid has been uneven for coworking spaces, depending on the profile of their clients. “Those who had a lot of freelances in their clientele or organised many events, were impacted from the day one. Those whose clients were companies however, have suffered less and, in many cases, have managed to keep most of their clients,” explains Eduardo Salsamendi , President of the ProWorkSpaces Association. Salsamendi explains this difference by the increase in demand for flexible offices and coworking spaces by large companies. Multinational corporations are adapting their strategies by using workspaces in flexible offices, in order to improve the efficiency of their real estate footprint and increase the productivity of its processes “.
The giants of the coworking sector however have not stopped working because of the crisis: in total there are more than 20 new centres set to open up in the near future.
They may have temporarily lost some customers, due to the ease clients have to cancel contracts, but coworking operators have remained very proactive during the crisis and offered flexibility to their users. Thanks to this flexibility, many have been able to retain their customers”, explains Jesse Derkx, Agile Practice Director of CBRE Spain. The business sector, according to the experts, is slowly recovering since “many operators have reinvented themselves and offer solutions in accordance with current needs.”
Subscriptions for days or hours are among the solutions offered by ‘coworking’
Urban Campus have launched more flexible subscriptions: passes for days, half-days or smaller offices, in which users can rotate, are just some of the examples. Thanks to this they have seen positive results and have managed to increase occupancy to anywhere between 60% – 70%, whereas the average in the general market is at approximately 20% “.
In the case of LOOM, they have taken advantage of the months of confinement to create new ultra-flexible products called LOOM Solutions. These are flexible solutions that allow the user to sign-up by the hour and use those hours in any of the spaces in the LOOM network. This quarter the program is starting with three large companies, who will be rolling out their mobile workforces in the LOOM spaces for several hours. Speaking to us, LOOM explained that last year, part of their community was forced to abandon their workspaces, especially the companies most vulnerable to a crisis of such magnitude. However, since the last quarter of 2020, these types of companies (startups, independent professionals, some SMEs) are the first to return to the spaces, thanks to these new initiatives.
Utopicus older spaces have around 70% of occupancy
Rafa de Ramón, CEO of Utopicus explains the impact of COVID on their spaces: “There is no doubt that at the billing level we have suffered a considerable decrease, not only because of current customers but also because during these months we opened 4 new centres and Covid has slowed down its pre-marketing and disrupted the forecasts we had for the first half of 2020. Despite this spaces opened during Covid are at 50% of their total occupancy, with older spaces at their highest occupancy, around 70%.
Utopicus, who have 13 spaces distributed around the prime areas of Madrid and Barcelona, have included among its sanitary measures the registration of visits through tablets situated in the reception areas and the quarantine and disinfection of mail and correspondences.
Impact Hub Madrid noticed a reactivation of interest, in terms of demand for the spaces, between the months of August and October. “Many flexible, self-employed or freelance workers who had to cancel their reservations, returned,” says Sonia Felipe, Marketing and Communication Director of Impact Hub Madrid. “In the first months of the pandemic we lost around 60/70% of our flexible clientele and where we managed to maintain numbers was in landlines and offices”, continues Felipe. In addition, the she points out that there is new interest “from a handful of companies who had not before considered working in a coworking”. In support of its members, Impact Hub Madrid has also launched the HUB Impulsa program, which connects the companies in its network with expert organizations in different fields, to help them boost their business.
Some industry experts believe that the current situation may represent an opportunity to develop the coworking sector. Derkx explains, “Covid-19 is a blessing in disguise. After suffering cancellations, made easy by one of coworking’s main selling points, flexibility, the lockdown has generated a lot of interest for coworkings, as companies and workers realize that it is possible to work elsewhere than the office”.
Companies value the possibility of dividing teams and reducing the space of their headquarters
For his part, de Ramón assures that “there are many indicators that suggest that in the near future companies will have to get rid of rigid rental contracts to make their costs profitable, and therefore seek the flexibility of networks such as Utopicus. Salsamendi states that “companies are seeing the opportunity to include the division of equipment in their strategies and the possibility of reducing the surface area of their headquarters, using our centres as a third space,” says Salsamendi.
Looking to the future, LOOM predicts “we are seeing that corporations are moving towards a model in which there is a central staff, who go to company headquarters every day, and mobile staff who rotate, have shifts, telework some days and go to the office other days. The central staff will operate under the conventional office model and the mobile staff will operate under the flexible office model “.
Do you agree on how Coworking and Coliving have transformed in times of social distancing?
The Urban Campus team along with REI Habitat (developer) and 813 Capital (investor) won the RFP for the development and management of a 4,800m2 coliving residence.
Located in the heart of France’s premier university and research hub of the École Polytechnique Université Paris-Saclay and just a walking distance from the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique and other leading sciences and engineering schools.
The residence will offer 115 studios and a working space aimed at science and technology entrepreneurs.
It is planned to open at the end of 2023.
Paris, 16th December 2020
Urban Campus, together with REI Habitat (developer) and 813 Capital (investor), have won the RFP for the development and management of a 4,800 m² coliving residence located in the heart of France’s premier university and research hub of the École Polytechnique Université Paris-Saclay. The hub is a walking distance from the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique and other leading sciences and engineering schools, with more than 15% of all research jobs in France located in Paris-Saclay.
The consortium was selected by the government’s planning authority from among 12 candidates, with the project’s exceptional environmental performance being the winning feature. The building, developed by REI Habitat, is a wood construction achieving best-in-class carbon-neutrality standards.
The residence will offer 115 studios and a working space aimed at science and technology entrepreneurs. It is planned to open at the end of 2023.
Maxime Depreux, CDO, expressed that “This project is a testimony of Urban Campus’s ability to focus on the most attractive projects and locations. We constantly innovate to create a residential offer that proposes well-designed spaces with access to services and community. We wish to thank our partner, 813 Capital, for their support and trust”.
CEO, John van Oost added “The management of residential buildings needs to be continuously optimized in order to propose affordable rents to the tenants, whilst delivering reasonable profitability to the property investors. The residences need to be conceived and managed with the highest sustainability, energy consumption, and air quality standards in mind. Dunbar, our proprietary technology is a crucial tool to achieve these objectives.”
Urban Campus in a nutshell
Founded in 2016 by John van Oost and Maxime Armand, Urban Campus redefines the rules of residential housing in major European cities by offering co-living,co-working, and community spaces adapted to new lifestyles.
International operators such as Urban Campus, StarCity, Habyt or Dovevivo have already entered the national market and have very aggressive expansion plans for southern Europe.
The Spanish opportunity.
In Madrid, Urban Campus has 120 beds; Habyt 110 and Homii 180. In Barcelona there is almost a thousand, with The Student Hotel being the most active operator with 595 operational beds and another 3,000 on the way – they also plan on opening in Madrid, with 340 beds, and 328 projected in Sebastián–. You’ll also find in Barcelona Starcity, with 100 beds, and Inedit, with 113. Among future developments, Homii plans to expand its portfolio in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, and Malaga. DoveVivo also plans to open in the capital city and in the city of Turia.
‘Coliving’, the networking residence
One of the markets that seems to go from strength to strength during the current economic and social uncertainty is home rental, and with it, coliving. This phenomenon was born in Silicon Valley after young people faced increasing difficulty finding affordable housing at the beginning of their careers. It is defined as a community and networking space, but also one that is residential. A kind of residence for students (but without an age limit) aimed at young professionals and freelancers, offering more sophisticated common areas such as spas, gyms, swimming pools and coworkings.
“Coliving means a different way of life. A life that’s more flexible, as all services are included in the rate, with an active community. A building where all the tenants are at the same point in life and where they can share experiences ”, explains Javier Caro, director of Coliving at CBRE.
Just as coworking implies better efficiency in using office spaces in densified city centers, coliving also allows better efficient occupancy by prioritizing high residential standards, at affordable prices. Prices usually include WiFi, utility bills, furniture, cleaning services and access to gyms. “In real estate terms, it is an operating asset that combines community management of a student residence, the services of a hotel and the stability of a residential asset, as a result of affordable rents, services on demand and high occupancies ”. In Spain coliving is receiving great recognition in the build to rent sector, largely due to the fact that less than 5% of the total market offer is under professional management “and there is a lack of this kind of experience within the accommodation sector ”, adds the CBRE executive.
International operators such as Urban Campus, StarCity, Habyt or Dovevivo have already entered the national market and have very aggressive expansion plans in southern Europe.
In the specific case of Spain, for the moment it is not a regulated market (we will see if the current Government is capable of restraining itself, with regards to coliving, in its Housing Law, defined with pride as the most interventionist on renting, in Europe). For now colivings can be operated as a residential or hotel asset. The types of rooms will depend on the demand, whether it is aimed at travellers, students (usually postgraduate), or young corporate professionals. As there is no current regulation, the rental agreements can range from 1 to 11 months (while the Urban Leasing Law establishes that the tenant can be linked to the house for 5 to 7 years).
As for prices, currently on average in Madrid rooms in colivings cost around 1,100 euros per month, more or less in line with the rental of a private studio of about 30 square meters, according to CBRE estimates. This makes Madrid one of the most expensive rental capitals in Europe. As some examples: in Amsterdam, a 30-square-meter studio costs less than 1,000 euros per month; in Vienna under 800 euros and in Berlin, 750 euros. In Milan coliving is not yet regulated either and average prices range from 410 euros per month for a basic room, to 1,000 for a bigger room. In Berlin, coliving rents vary from 599 euros in a shared apartment to 1,100 in a studio, with Germany being the most mature market for investing in micro-apartments (1.9 billion euros since 2015, according to CBRE).
Óscar, one of our residents, guided them through the coliving building, showing them his studio and all common areas.
‘Coliving’, a new way of living in Madrid
A private room, a ready-built community & dozens of shared spaces? At first it might seem like what you get with a hotel, but it is far from that. Here the people who rent their little corner of privacy are part of a community or ‘family’ who share common areas and even fridges. It’s called ‘coliving’, and it’s not just a new way of living, but a whole philosophy of life.
Óscar and his girlfriend Lidia met at the Mellado Madrid Coliving, after both deciding to try out this new lifestyle, and they now share a larger studio together.
The ‘coliving’ is a new housing rental offer that strongly appeals to young professionals aged 26 and older, who do not mind sharing a kitchen and television with other tenants. They have their own private place in the form of a studio with an en-suite bathroom, and the rest of the building holds different common areas that encourages everyone to coexist harmoniously. Organization, respect and tolerance are necessary.
Speaking to TeleMadrid, Ósacar explains that “We’ve not really had problems when it comes to watching TV. There are many common spaces available and it is just a matter of organizing amongst ourselves and reaching an agreement”. To avoid conflicts in the kitchen, which is shared between four studios, each drawer and shelf is assigned to a tenant. “If someone likes coffee and brings a coffee machine, it is shared with whoever needs it, if the owner agrees of course.” Continues Óscar. Although cleaning is included in the rent, next to the dining room table we find a large blackboard displaying different tasks and those assigned to each one (water the plants, cleaning the common spaces etc.).
A ‘new age’ community
Óscar is from Barcelona, but had been living outside of Spain. When he arrived in Madrid he wanted to try this new lifestyle and described his first sentiments as those of surprise.
The ‘coliving‘ provides accommodation with a private bathroom. The rest of the house is shared. It costs between 750 and 1,200 euros per month, including utilities, wifi, maintenance, cleaning and a fully equipped kitchen. Residents all have access to a gym, fitness studio, a movies room and three terraces, one of which has an urban garden, with the main common space offering a large table where the whole community can come together. The building is located in Chamberí and has 74 studios in total, some of them doubles. “This is a way of life. If you want to interact with others, you can, but if you don’t, just don’t go to the common areas as often.” So far though, it seems that everyone has hit it off very well. “Every two weeks we hold a community meeting to talk about any issues we’re having, and follow it up with a delicious community dinner “.
Advantages and disadvantages of ‘coliving’
Advantages of ‘coliving’
Everything is included in the rent (utilities, cleaning, maintenance, Wifi & even Netflix)
You just need to bring your clothes, the rest is provided by Urban Campus.
Complete cleaning in common areas every week and in private areas every month.
Opportunity to meet new people.
The gym is included in the price.
Disadvantages of ‘coliving’
Loss of some privacy by sharing so many common areas.
Possibility of disputes derived from living with so many people.
The building has about 300 square meters of common areas. The tenants are between 26 and 40 years old and are professionals. The ‘coliving’ does not admit students. Residents can bring guests but they cannot stay more than seven nights in a row.
Urban Campus set to expand in Madrid with 300 new beds in 2021
The French Coliving operator plans to open up three spaces in the Spanish capital within the next year and establish themselves in cities such as Valencia and Málaga.
EjePrime spoke to the CEO of the company, John Van Oost, about Urban Campus’s plans to expand in Madrid. The company will open up three new spaces next year, adding 300 beds to its Madrid portfolio.
Urban Campus seeks to settle in secondary cities such as Valencia or Malaga
In addition to expanding its presence in Madrid, where it already has two coliving spaces, the company plans to expand throughout Spain, and open up two new coliving spaces in Valencia and Malaga next year.
The French company has an expansion plan to develop coliving spaces in Spain that will add around 2,000 beds to its portfolio. The CEO has ensured that they have institutional investors who are showing significant interest in the Spanish market.
Before the outbreak of the pandemic in March, the two centers in Madrid registered an occupancy of 98.5%, but in June only 50% of the units were occupied. “Many of our tenants were from Latin America, the United States, Canada, or other European Union states. A lot of them returned home during the first wave,” explains the CEO.
Currently, the occupancy of its spaces is 98.5%
During the summer the occupancy reached 60%. By September, occupancy was again at nearly full capacity, with 98% of units rented. “During confinement, we organized many activities through social media networks“Van Oost continued, who himself passed the first wave in one of the centers in Madrid.
The company also incorporates co-working spaces within its coliving centers, “we already believed it was necessary before, but Covid-19 has shown the need to have a functional workspace at home” adds the CEO.
Currently, the company has two flexible coworking spaces in Madrid. Urban Campus is committed to including these types of spaces in future coliving projects that are large enough to accommodate a dedicated coworking space. However, for the moment, it does not foresee opening new, and exclusively, coworking spaces in Spain.
You can find the original article “Urban Campus set to expand in Madrid with 300 new beds in 2021” in Spanish, here.
Read the Full article “Urban Campus is leading the Coliving sector in Spain, according to CBRE and Ejeprime” here
OK Diario has named Urban Campus as one of the Coliving Key Players in Spain. Read the whole article in Spanish here, or keep reading the translation in English below.
Urban Campus, Inédit and Projects share the ‘coliving’ market in Madrid and Barcelona
2020 will be a year of growth for ‘coliving’, a type of accommodation that consists of renting a private area (studio) in a property that also enables access to shared spaces and additional services.
Although the current offer is still very small in Spain, experts predict that ‘coliving’ will soon become the future of the real estate sector. Coliving will grow thanks to the high profitability offered to the owner – between 15% and 20% – and demographic trends.
The three companies that dominate this market in Madrid and Barcelona are Urban Campus, Inédit and Projets.
The French company Urban Campus was one of the first to land in the Spanish market. It has 120 single beds spread over two buildings in Madrid. They also design and operate two coworking spaces and a Foodlab (coworking space for gastronomic entrepreneurship with professional kitchen) in Spain’s capital.
The other big market operator is Inèdit, with 21 flats in Barcelona, a total of 113 rooms. (113 individual places). The Spanish company expects that in 2021 80% of companies dedicated to the sector will have an average of 250 beds. It also predicts that these types of properties will grow up to 40% by the middle of next year. Why is coliving becoming so popular? According to Inèdit, it’s due to the high profitability that it offers to investors and due to the increase of young professionals that move to Spain’s biggest cities every year.
Coliving spaces are mainly aimed at young professionals who want to live in a community, share experiences and who, generally, look to stay for periods that do not exceed 12 months. The average price of this type of accommodation is 900 euros per month.
Projets is one of the best-known operators in Europe. They operate in cities where the concept of ‘coliving’ is already well established, like Amsterdam or London. The German company has been operating in Madrid since April 2019 and has 25 rooms located in the district of Tetuan. The company expects to add 1,000 new homes throughout the world in 2020.
Lack of solid legal framework
However one of the problems faced by this new business model, that’s affecting its development rate, is legislation. There is no specific coliving planning regulation: «Hotel or tourist apartment regulations do not adapt to this product. The absence of a solid legal framework causes a delay in its development, despite the enormous interest that has aroused both among users and investors” according to real estate consultant Savills Newman. The consultant believes that the new business model will also be another attraction factor to capture and retain talent in the labor market.
Elix VRS signs an agreement with Urban Campus
Eje Prime has written about ELIX VRS’s acquisition of 2 coliving residences managed by Urban Campus.
This acquisition demonstrates the attractiveness of Urban Campus to institutional investors, which is a pillar of our development in Spain and elsewhere in Europe.
You can read the whole article in Spanish here or keep reading in English.
Elix VRS joins forces with Urban Campus to enter the ‘coliving’ market.
The latest acquisitions made by the SIIC in Madrid, who is managed by the investment funds KKR and Altamar, will be operated by Urban Campus, a company specialising in the management of shared residential spaces.
Both companies will collaborate on the management of two properties purchased by the SIIC. The first, announced on January 9, includes two buildings located around Plaza de España in the capital, which Elix VRS acquired for 5.6 million euros and 5.2 million euros respectively. Both properties have undergone an extensive refurbishment, and have a common area of 3,184 square meters, in addition to commercial and parking spaces. The operation was financed with the company’s own resources, according to a statement sent to the Alternative Stock Market (MAB).
“Urban Campus was already operating the properties purchased by the SIIC.”
On January 16, the SIIC announced the purchase of another property for 12.4 million euros. The asset is located on Mellado Street, and was the first coliving residential center opened and operated by Urban Campus, in Spain. The building has a built area of 3,360 square meters and its acquisition was financed through the company’s own funds and a loan, with a real estate guarantee of 7.4 million euros. It also has four commercial premises. So far Urban Campus has 110 beds available in two coliving spaces which in total comprehend more than 5,000 square meters. In addition, it also operates two coworking spaces and a foodlab in the Spanish capital.
“Urban Campus expects to invest up to 200 million euros in the Spanish market by 2025.”
As previously shared by Eje Prime, the French company plans to operate investments between 150 million and 200 million euros in the next five years. The company plans to open ten new centers in the main cities of Spain that would add some 2,000 beds.
Urban Campus interview at “Mundo Emprende” show from esRadio
Mundo Emprende is a Spanish Radioshow that aims to promote and spread culture and entrepreneurship in Spain, by sharing tips, ideas, and guidelines, that every entrepreneur should know. They also interview key players of the entrepreneurial scene in Spain, and so Ana and Marta were invited to share the Urban Campus story, explaining what we do and our mission to revolutionize how people live and interact in cities through our coliving spaces.
Curios on how it went? Watch the full Urban Campus interview at “Mundo Emprende” esRadio!
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