Important Differences Between Co-Living And Shared Housing

Singapore Mar 27, 2023

Same, but vastly different — not only in terms of benefits but also price. Always wondered how co-living and shared housing differ? Then you’ll want to read on.

What is co-living?

Co-living refers to a group of people who live together in a space that was designed for that purpose. Occupants of co-living apartments would have their own private rooms (and sometimes toilets) but share common spaces like the balcony, kitchen and living room.

The co-living apartment provider would also be your one source of contact should there be any issues with your rental home’s fixtures (e.g. tap leaks, air conditioner maintenance, etc.), roommate disputes, etc. To add, they would also be responsible for ensuring that your needs are attended to.

What is shared housing (or flatshare)?

Shared housing (or flatshare), on the other hand, is made up of a group of people sharing a traditional home that wasn’t designed for sharing. Should there be any issues with the rental home’s fixtures or roommate disputes, you are pretty much on your own as landlords usually do not get involved with these ‘trivial’ matters.

To cut through the noise, here is a list of how co-living and shared housing differ, complete with a list of benefits you can expect with co-living apartments.

Dining area at Hmlet Tiong Poh Road, Singapore

Differences between co-living and shared housing

Space and amenities

Co-living residents will each have his or her own private room of varying sizes, built around shared communal areas that may include indoor or outdoor living areas (e.g. bathroom, laundry area, balcony, kitchen, living room, etc.).

You can think of co-living as modular homes that give you the option to pay for only what you really need or want. Prefer a small space? Consider a smaller no-frills room like the Pocket that’s perfect for one who is looking for short-term stays. Require a larger space with your own kitchen? Not a problem, go for the Studio or 1-bedroom apartment that comes with a kitchen and big enough for two.

In contrast, shared houses are your typical homes that were built to provide accommodation for families. Similar to the co-living concept, each resident would have their own private rooms while bathrooms and kitchen are shared throughout the house. However, most bedrooms are the size of a study with only one ‘master’ bedroom available; that may or may not include an ensuite.


Unbeknownst to some, many co-living companies offer rental fees that include furnishings and basic utilities like Wi-Fi, water, electricity, maintenance, weekly room cleaning, etc. This means, you won’t have to worry about monthly utility bills, setting up of a Wi-Fi mesh or fixing the water heater when it breaks down. Simply call the hotline or log a case, and a professional will be sent your way to fix the issue as soon as possible.

For shared housing, monthly utilities (e.g. water, gas, Wi-Fi, etc.), additional fixtures or furniture, replacement of appliances and maintenance are excluded from the rental price, and have to be paid for by residents. This means, should any appliance break down, the onus falls on you and your roommates to figure out which company to go to and split the cost.


Location, location, location. As one of the most important factors when choosing a home, this could mean an additional 30 minutes of shut eye before a work day or morning commute.

Shared houses tend to be located in suburban parts of a city while most co-living apartments are found in the heart of the city, trendy neighbourhoods or business districts.


Although not always the case, demographics of those who reside at co-living spaces and shared housing differ. At co-living spaces, most residents are working professionals, digital nomads or long-stay travellers. At shared homes, it is common to share the unit with local residents of all ages and professional backgrounds.

Living area at Hmlet Zion Apartments, Hong Kong

Benefits of co-living

As a modern form of communal living, co-living apartments take care of the nitty gritty that comes with owning your own home, while providing opportunities for making personal connections.

Shared experiences

Putting yourself out there and meeting like-minded people in a whole new city can be daunting — we get that. That is why we ensure opportunities to connect are never too far away. Whether it's a rooftop barbecue, an indoor movie night or just exploring the neighbourhood with a new-found friend, there are many curated events you can look forward to.

A sense of belonging

Community and forming meaningful connections through curated events is at the heart of co-living.

More than just apartments or rooms for rent, co-living affords individuals a beautifully furnished apartment along with great company. The anxiety of moving to a foreign country like Singapore or Hong Kong from the other side of the world wouldn’t be as daunting when you have co-living housemates to help ease the transition.

Flexible living

One of the best perks of co-living is the flexibility it affords.

Gone are the days of being tied to a rental room or apartment for a minimum of one year, oftentimes there are no lease agreements at all! So, while individuals will be afforded a stable living arrangement, they’re never trapped or bogged down by long term rental leases.

Lower initial costs

Co-living apartments come fully furnished with everything that you would need for a comfortable stay so you won’t have to go through the hassle of investing in furniture. This alone can save you a good sum of money that you could invest in things that really matter  — especially when you don’t know if you’ll be living in the city for the long haul.

In addition, rental costs are transparent and all-inclusive of overheads (e.g. Wi-Fi, utilities, maintenance, etc.) so you only pay a fixed amount every month.

Hmlet community event in Hong Kong


As a way to live, co-living and shared housing couldn't be more different. While traditional renting options like shared housing may seem like the only option, co-living is fast becoming a good contender (and one that offers more benefits at an affordable price).

So, if a fully-furnished home or room, flexible lease and forming meaningful connections sounds like your next dream home, then get started with Hmlet today.

Search for hundreds of co-living apartments or rooms at Hmlet. We’ll help your next dream abode without pesky agent fees (and even furnish it!), so you can focus on doing more of what you love.


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