Co-living + Co-working

What is Co-living?

Your guide to what co-living is, how it works, why people do it, some of India’s best co-living spaces, and what co-living is like at Playground.

Besides an absolutely eye-opening way to travel, make new connections, and learn about this world around us – in its essence, co-living is an economical, community-centric style of serviced accommodation, generally without brokerage or security deposits, that covers the cost and hassle of furnishing, maintenance, and utilities under one reservation.

Let’s start with the basics – what is a co-living space and how does co-living work? The name gives it away, at least on a surface level, almost immediately, with the pre-fix “co-” meaning together: so “living together.” But there are lots of ways to live together – so what differentiates the co-living lifestyle from a PG, backpackers’ hostel, or lease agreement with some flatmates?

Lighting up our little corner of the Himalayas as dusk falls on Playground.

It may not have been obvious, but you’re probably already much more familiar with the concept than you’d think, thanks to how prevalent the sharing economy has become.

Think about the last time you took an Ola or Uber, took a rental cycle off of a Public Bike Sharing rack in your city, ordered a bed from Rentomojo, or heard your friend talk about their rented office space at WeWork. You still get the same service as if you had your own car, cycle, bed or office – except at a fraction of a cost and without any liability, maintenance, or overhead expenses. Co-living is just one step further in this direction.

There are a few angles to understand co-living from, including level of commitment, community, amenities, and services provided.

Starting with commitment – unlike with leasing a flat or PG for a fixed, contractual period of time with brokerage, co-living spaces often have a very flexible contract system, allowing guests to come and go with relative ease, without any finder’s fees or joining fees.

Some spaces (like ours) don’t require any contract at all, and simply have a booking system that you’d expect from a hotel or hostel, with the option for flexible redemption stays, monthly recurring payments & discounts for long-term stays. While you can technically stay at co-living spaces operating under the traditional reservation system for short periods of time, most people spend a longer time here in a slow travel style, settling into the community and space for weeks or months at a time.

A day trip out of Playground for a picnic!

That brings us to our second point – community, one of the hallmarks of co-living versus other shared accommodation styles. Co-living is centered around the idea of engaging with others sharing the space, and often involves organized community events and activities.

The architecture of our space, for example, is literally designed around three common spaces (a cafe + co-working spaces, library loft + game room, and a movie lounge) where our guests spend time with one another. Backpackers hostels share this sense of community as well, however the short-term nature of hostel stays limits the time available to form deeper connections with house-mates.

A window-facing workstation at Playground Manali with power backup and 100mbps wifi.

Another characteristic of co-living is the pre-existing amenities waiting for you when you walk through the door. Unlike leasing a flat, or getting nickle-and-dimed at a hostel for essentials like linens or heating deemed as “extras,” co-living spaces are move-in ready. Fully-furnished, a wifi system in place, linens, toiletries (and in our case, also 24/7 power backup, in-house cafe, library, fire pit, Netflix, heating, co-working stations, etc.) mean that co-living is a way to experience everything without needing to own anything.

The 4-bed dorm at Playground Manali.

A final major co-living space perk is the maintenance + housekeeping services provided. It may be your house, but when the lightbulb goes out, it’s the space’s responsibility to purchase and replace it. Essentially, the most mundane and time-consuming parts of maintaining a living space – calling the plumber, laundry, cleaning under the couch, paying the electricity bill – it’s just not your problem anymore.

Why do People do It?

You may have been able to guess by now, why so many people are shifting to this shared accommodation model of co-living. It’s essentially where affordability, community, and convenience intersect, and allows those of us who value experience over ownership an accessible path toward that lifestyle.

Quick stop in the forest to try some slackening on a guided weekend hike from Playground Manali.

Of course – as does any decision in life – the choice to join a co-living space is a very personal decision and depends on an individual’s needs, comfort zones, and predispositions – a choice that can only be made by weighing the pros and cons of this lifestyle:

Cons of Co-living:

  • Less privacy than a flat
  • Less customizability + pre-existing rules of the house
  • Potentially more expensive than PGs or hostels due to extra amenities

Benefits of Co-living:

  • Affordability
  • Built-in community
  • Amenities (WiFi, furnished, workspace, kitchen access, Netflix, power backup, etc.)
  • No household hassels (paying utility bills, maintenance, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, etc.)
  • Shared accommodation is more environmentally friendly

Co-living Spaces in India

If you’ve gotten this far – the idea of co-living is something you’re curious about, or even a lifestyle you’re seriously considering stepping into. The next step is to see what co-living looks like in real life, and decide where you want to take it to the next step.

At Playground, we’ve gone the opposite direction of most other co-living spaces in India, and run far away from the cities, taking our location to the literal end of the road so that our guests have the chance to get back outside and into nature.

A morning chai on the balcony at Playground Manali on a snowy day.

Of course, mountainside co-living isn’t for everyone, and some want to be closer to home. Some notable co-living spaces in India’s major cities include:

Have more questions about co-living? Want to know more about co-living at Playground? Take a look at our amenities and long term stay plans here, or give us a call at +91 98057 84277. See you outside!

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