Coliving startups revive expansion plans as Covid-19 second wave ebbs


New Delhi: Coliving startups are reviving their expansion plans, after three months of pandemic-induced lull, with a focus on providing WFH-like features in shared spaces.

“The major trend that we’re currently witnessing is the increase of people working from home and by extension, coliving places need to be more WFH-friendly,” said Nikhil Sikri, co-founder of Zolostays. “The second wave of Covid-19 is now in a sharp decline, and we are forecasting that with the rapid pace with which the vaccination is being carried out, we will be returning to business as usual very soon.”

Sikri plans to add 30,000 beds this year despite the disruption caused by the pandemic. The company, which had initially set a target of 150,000 beds by the end of 2021, has revised the figure to 85,000.

According to property consultants, the pandemic has given the residential segment of India’s real estate sector an opportunity to develop coliving, senior living, student housing and mixed-use projects, while incorporating WFH and other lifestyle trends.

“We are looking at expansion in areas and cities which come under the non-IT sector, and are working with both existing and new asset partners to launch assets that are well equipped to the needs of a post-covid world,” Sikri said.

Hive Hostels, which operates 1,500 beds across 16 properties across Mumbai, Delhi, Noida, Dehradun and Greater Noida, plans to expand to 5,000 beds in 2021-22. “We feel there will be greater demand as offices start reopening, and there will be demand for student housing as well,” said Bharat Agarwal, director at Hive Hostels. He aims for 12,000 beds by 2022-23.

Over 20 million students and working professionals migrate within India every year. Nearly 90% of the student-housing segment is unorganised, and coliving startups are hoping to fill the gap with better facilities.

“The expansion plan is intact but will be delayed by a few quarters due to the second wave of the pandemic,” said Abhishek, co-founder of coliving startup COVIE. “We believe that coliving will bounce back at a fast pace once things are back to normal.”

The company added 500 beds across three new properties—two in Bengaluru and one in Pune—just before the second wave. It plans to add 1,500 more beds in Delhi, Dehradun and Navi Mumbai, going ahead.

As migrant millennial workers move back to the major cities and higher education institutes resume physical classes, occupancy levels in organised setups are expected to go up and gradually return to 2019 levels by the end of 2021.

Olive by Embassy, the coliving and student housing arm of the Embassy Group, is looking to reach 10,000 operational beds in 2021. “As long as there is rising demand for affordable accommodation in cities, coliving will continue to be a lucrative business,” Kahraman Yigit, co-founder of Olive by Embassy, had said earlier this year.

Ankit Gupta, chief executive officer-frontier, Oyo India & South Asia, said the second wave of the pandemic saw a significant drop in demand for coliving spaces in cities that were put under localised lockdowns.

“However, post that, Oyo Life is seeing a very sharp recovery curve. On the consumer side, we realised that working professionals are increasingly looking for flexibility. We’ve launched unique prepaid rental plans where customers can pre-purchase a stay for a short period and later have the flexibility to extend it based on their needs,” Gupta said.


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