‘Co-living spaces’ and 'hacker houses': you’d be forgiven for dismissing these modern concepts as simple rebrands of what we once dubbed communes. Yet there's more to these typically small, sparsely furnished cooperative living spaces than meets the eye – and they’re surprisingly popular in high-demand cities with attractive tech scenes.
But why are hacker houses so sought after by entrepreneurial millennials?
As you might expect, given that hacker houses often squeeze eight to 10 people into hostel-style bunk rooms, the monthly rent is usually rather reasonable, especially considering the prime city districts they tend to occupy.
Hacker houses were initially conceptualised as low-cost micro apartments, meaning they continue to attract both long and short-term residents. As budding tech millionaires can rent a bed or a room for as little as $30 a night, they can afford to divest their remaining finances into launching the next unicorn startup instead.
Key, of course, to the high demand for these co-living spaces is their desirable location. Rental costs in city centres are showing no signs of decreasing as the demand for urban life and the amenities that go hand-in-hand with it remain sky high.
Entrepreneurs, in particular, are drawn to metropolitan areas. If you’re aiming to launch your own company with little investment, or make a breakthrough at a tech giant, you require close proximity to business and financial districts, as well as excellent transport links.
Hacker houses are not just about saving on rent, however. Interviews with entrepreneurs in the New York Times and Business Insider reveal the level of enthusiasm among the tech-savvy individuals who champion these micro apartments. Rather than living separate lives in a shared space, hacker houses are treated as creative hubs; the young professionals who call them home exchange ideas, practise presentations and team up to solve problems.
Some individuals even pay extra to live with more people. Rather than a downside, it’s seen as an unrivalled social and intellectual opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals – which really does epitomise the core ethos of cooperative living.
While sceptics may dub hacker houses ‘glorified dorms’, the average setup is far more complex than it may first seem. In spaces run by the now-defunct Chez JJ, a San Fransisco-based company, for example, each property was managed by a female chief who vetted the prospective residents. If applicants – of which there were plenty – weren't technologically minded enough, or lacked the correct attitude, they were discouraged from applying.
GrokHome in Seattle, meanwhile, carefully mixes coding experts with entrepreneurs from other tech or science backgrounds to cultivate a more creative environment.
While these melting pots for budding startups are currently more popular in the United States' most expensive and desirable modern cities than the rest of the world, there are plenty of signs of similar trends emerging in Europe and beyond. Discover how Engel & Völkers is staying ahead of the curve with our micro apartments project in Berlin.