Housing trend: flexible living

Flexibility is the new black. Think of housing contracts which allow you to move in and out in the blink of an eye, furniture which helps you to transform a room and its function completely, and tiny houses which you transport from the city to the countryside, and back. 

pic: New Frontier Tiny Homes

So there's less space available in both cities and on the countryside. It's getting more expensive by the minute. There are more single households (divorced people, elderly people, singles for life). And you never know what might happen tomorrow: a new job, a child, a lover. 

No wonder that architects, interior designers, urban planners, gardeners, real estate agents and governments start embracing a new reality, one in which we occupy less space, swap places and share spaces. 

Tiny spaces

The average one-bedroom new-build home in the UK is currently 46 sq m, the size of a metro carriage. All over Europe, houses and appartments are shrinking in size. It means we have less space to waste, so we get rid of clutter and we prefer flexible furniture (a bed we can turn into a table, a desk we can turn into a kitchenette). The apex of small and smart living are Tiny Houses, which are gaining popularity in the US. These mobile houses offer all the comfort of a modern home, while occupying less than 46 sq m. 

Swappable spaces

Living in your own three bedroom house for life, is a dream of the past. Singles, single households and parents whose children have left the house don't want, don't need or can't afford it anymore. Younger generations are getting used to a nomadic lifestyle, in which conditions change constantly. Three year hire contracts are an unconvenience, and real estate companies start experimenting with alternative and short term contracts. 

Shared spaces

Living together with your parents, even though you're all grown up. Living with friends, even though you're not studying anymore. And living with other families, even though you're no hippies. Communal living is here to stay, and property developers got the hint. Dutch real estate developer AM builds and sells apartments designed for starters (singles and couples) that don't mind sharing a living room, kitchen and bathroom. Their 'Friends concept' attracts twentysomethings mostly, and turns out to be a big hit. The 'Melrose concept', which allows five to eight people living together seperately, turns out to be equally popular with fiftysomethings.

More on communal living: Wonen in de 21ste eeuw by Peter Camp (dutch only)

More housing trends in our Youth Trend Report #Browsing The Margin