I visited 3 co-living spaces in Singapore and think it's more worth it than renting a HDB flat

First, we had co-working spaces sprouting up on our island, boasting exclusive membership perks and workshops, and the flexibility of hot-desking in cool locations around Singapore, sharing the same space as other professionals and companies.

More recently, co-living is a trend that's picking up in Singapore. For the uninitiated, a co-living space is quite similar to the concept of co-working space, where the kitchen, living room and other facilities are shared with residents in the compound. 

What's the difference between co-living and regular HDB room or home rentals? Co-living is designed to promote interactions among residents, where they are involved in fostering a community through communal spaces and events.

It's the millennials' or hipsters' equivalent of home rentals, and it usually comes with cool amenities and an aesthetically pleasing interior design.

The entire process of shifting in is seamless and convenient with the help of community managers and residents. 

I visited three co-living spaces in Singapore just to find out if it's more worth it to rent a room in a co-living space or to rent an HDB flat.

HMLET CANTONMENT

Hmlet comes from the word 'hamlet', which means little village, and stepping into its new co-living space in Cantonment felt very much as its name suggests.

Even though it's located near busy Tanjong Pagar, Hmlet Cantonment feels like an oasis; it's almost a home away from home, where I could feel my stress melting away upon walking through the gates.

PHOTO: AsiaOne/ Melissa Goh

The premises is quite self-sustaining, sort of a thriving ecosystem on its own — it consists of communal kitchens on the second floor of both its blocks, a spacious cafe named The Cantonment Canteen to host community-led events and functions, outdoor patios, a plunge pool and a wellness studio with in-house yoga classes.

PHOTO: Hmlet

Whilst modern, the two buildings boasting 150 rooms retained some of its 1950s old school charms, such as the windows, grilles, and original staircase with terrazzo handrails which added character to the co-living space. 

The weekly rates start from $870 for The Small to $1,920 for the Two Bed With Kitchen. Members who book a three-month stay and above will enjoy rates from $3,240 a month, or about $810 a week.

I had the opportunity to spend a night in The Extra Large room in Block A, away from the communal space and found it to be very tranquil. 

The room comes ensuite, with a double bed, kitchenette, a washing machine and a small round table. It's roomy enough for two people and if I were still waiting for my three-room HDB to be ready, this would have been a great place to temporarily call home.

PHOTO: Hmlet

During my stay, I joined a community-led event held in The Cantonment Canteen, which helped in making me feel warm and welcome. 

I can see how Hmlet Cantonment will resonate really well with younger individuals and couples who like the idea of balancing between having privacy and socialising. 

LYF FUNAN SINGAPORE

Lyf, located in Funan Mall, is obviously made for millennials in mind. Its decor is very IG-centric, littered with neon signs, a GIF machine, a ball pit and witty quotes hidden at every corner of the space.

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Lyf Funan shows us how co-living works
Lyf Funan shows us how co-living works

You'll find the laundry room right at its doorstep, named the 'wash and hang' out area. We heard that the first Tiger beer vending machine is going to be housed here too; it's possibly the coolest laundromat in Singapore to chill out at.

The co-living spaces include the communal lounge where tables can be shifted around when you work, or put aside for movie screening nights or events.

Its social kitchen is large enough to host a cook-off. There are separate kitchen spaces at the back, which is handicap-accessible and another to prepare halal food.  

The social gym has minimal equipment, but what stood out was the human-size hamster wheel that's used as a treadmill. 

Lyf is the only co-living space out of the three we visited that allows one-night staycations. Starting from $150 a night or S$3,060 a month, the One-Of-A-Kind studio room comes with an ensuite, offering a little privacy for couples. 

PHOTO: AsiaOne/ Melissa Goh

If you share that cost with your partner, it works out to about $50 a day to rent a room for a month in the heart of the city, which is rather affordable, all things considered. There'll be no utilities to pay, no cleaning to do, and no need to apply for a gym membership. 

Housekeeping services are only kept to once a week if you're living here on a long-term basis, but can be requested for a fee if you require it to be more frequent. 

The All Together apartments sleep up to nine guests starting from $290 per night or $5,500 a month, which comes with a kitchenette and living area that's great for families and business trips or friends who'd like living together.

COMMONTOWN

Unlike Hmlet Cantonment and lyf, Commontown does not yet have its own facilities in Singapore. Instead, it has 45 rooms available across five properties in various locations of Singapore, with expansions in the pipeline.

I visited its newest listing at Sixth Avenue, which includes two Standard Rooms ($1,700 for one person, per month), one Master Room with ensuite ($2,300) and one Junior Master with ensuite ($2,200).

PHOTO: AsiaOne/ Melissa Goh

While Commontown has no qualms about their residents having relatives or friends stay over for a short period as long as their housemates are informed, I found that limiting only one occupant to the Studio Rooms restrictive. Granted, its price is about half that of Hmlet's and lyf's smallest room.

Its communal room features a ping-pong table, bean bags, a study area and living area that's inspired by the HDB void deck, the real example of co-sharing spaces in Singapore.

Themed rooms, such as the reading room, dining room and entertainment room are set up on four different floors of Urbana, a condo in River Valley, where only members living there will have access to all four shared living spaces via a keycard. 

PHOTO: AsiaOne/ Melissa Goh

Group chats are also set up among the members living in the same neighbourhood, and activities are held once a month for the entire Commontown community to mingle and hang out.

IS IT MORE WORTH IT TO CO-LIVE THAN RENT A HDB FLAT?

Having visited these three co-living spaces in Singapore, I've grown to like the flexibility it offers.

Even though the rental cost of co-living can be a little steeper than renting a room in a HDB flat located in a prime location, it's still slightly cheaper than renting an apartment in the city. 

And what you're paying for is the comfort convenience and services including 24/7 air-conditioning, housekeeping and wifi, omitting other hidden costs of renting.

The rooms and communal spaces are tastefully decorated and are ready for moving in immediately, taking away the hassle and stress of house viewings. 

At Commontown, you'll be spending about $56 a day if you rent the standard room. And if you're sharing the rental cost of the studio room with a partner at Hmlet or lyf, it'll cost you about $50 to $55 a day in the Central area of Singapore, which seem like a viable option to consider if you're looking to shift out on your own, or are looking for a place to put up temporarily. 

melissagoh@asiaone.com