Having it All No Longer Means Owning it All

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Alternate title: Why Short Term Housing is the Future of Renting

There’s a movement happening, to own less, without having less. We see it as the sharing economy becomes indispensable to our lives, reducing the need to own tools, equipment, and even vehicles. We see it as media and content move almost online, as highlighted by this recent post on consumer trends.

We see it in generational trends, with some young people choosing to forego home ownership in favor of staying unencumbered (and, for a larger percentage, because they still can’t afford to own homes despite recent economic growth).

So where are all those young people living instead? Many are still living at home with parents. Those out on their own are renting apartments in urban areas, often living with roommates. They are delaying marriage and having kids later, which for most means that home ownership also comes later.

When home ownership is no longer desirable or doesn’t seem like a possibility, it changes the way you think and make decisions. For a growing number of people, that means no set address at all. 

In enlightened circles, the term “digital nomad” has been whispered for years. It’s the new take on long-term travel, an evolution stemming from a desire to see the world by those who don’t want to stop working, or who can’t afford to.

The Wireless Generation highlights people who have traded in the traditional 9-5 for the opportunity to live and work anywhere. Remote Year has grown tremendously in its first 2 years in business. There are Facebook groups for Worldschooling your children and house swapping/sitting full time. Airbnb now boasts over 2 million listings worldwide in more than 34,000 cities. 

What does it all add up to? 

What the tiny house movement is to real estate, short term, furnished apartment rentals are to the traditional lease. 

Having it all no longer means owning it all. This applies not only to owning your home, but also your furniture, kitchenware, and heck, even a kitchen itself. WeLive, a residential project offering furnished apartment rentals on a month-to-month contract, has helped shared office space company WeWork achieve a $16 billion valuation, making it the sixth most valuable private company.

Roam caters to digital nomads looking for a place to rest their laptops as they travel the world. They feature private, furnished bedrooms and bathrooms with shared kitchens and common spaces.

And those of us in less exotic locations like Seattle and San Francisco see endless demand from people wanting to experience life in a great city for a few months, without the hassle of enduring a move or setting up a household from scratch. Why invest in furniture, even Ikea, when you can instead move into a fully-appointed rental with just a suitcase, and feel instantly at home? 

Besides keeping commitments low, short term rentals are ideal for freelancers, which in just 4 short years, will include half the working population. They don’t require the same level of rigor regarding applications and outsized income to rent ratios common in urban areas, and they don’t penalize the same way for multiple income streams or unconventional rental history.

For a growing population, short-term furnished apartment rentals aren’t the bland, sketchy housing option to be avoided of old. They are a ticket to freedom, both location and financial. 

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