Singaporean co-living startup Hmlet ventures into Australia

Hefty housing prices and demand for flexibility gives co-living spaces a boost.

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Singaporean co-living startup Hmlet ventures into Australia

While novel to some, co-living is a concept reminiscent of student housing, with a spin to it – it’s communal living that comes with a range of add-on services like room cleaning, ironing, and in-house catering services. Co-living spaces are usually managed by a community manager.

In Singapore, co-living company Hmlet is a pioneer of the concept. It began with renting units from individual landlords before starting to manage entire buildings. Some examples of its properties in Singapore include “Hmlet @ Joo Chiat” and “Hmlet @ Sarkies” to name a few.

After acquiring Australian co-living operator Caper Co-Living, the startup is now set to foray into the Australian market, according to the Straits Times, beginning with Sydney as early as March, and later Melbourne and Brisbane. The goal is to leverage local expertise to provide co-living in the country.

Hmlet did a similar move in a prior international expansion. It took over Hong Kong co-living firm we r urban in 2018.

Founded in 2016 by Zenos Schmickrath and Yoan Kamalski, the Singaporean co-living provider has moved quickly, amassing more than 15 locations across Singapore and Hong Kong.

Costly housing in Singapore, Hong Kong, and in other cities, including in Australia, is one factor contributing to the popularity of co-living concepts.

In Hong Kong especially, the housing market has spiraled out of control and many proposals such as subsidized housing have been put forward. In Singapore, the situation is less dire, but co-living might become attractive as the tiny red dot is considered crowded in terms of population density (an average of 7,792 people living per square kilometre).

Real Estate Consultancy JLL says its research shows that co-living has been gaining traction in the region because buying a property gets increasingly harder. Asia’s millennials are now just as comfortable with shared housing like they are with sharing workspaces and transport.

More co-working space operators in the region are also adding the option of co-living to their services. Indonesia’s Livit Spaces and Thailand’s KoHub are some examples.

As for Singapore, the co-living market has seen a share of failures. Property startup 99.co closed one location due to suffering losses back in 2016.  So far, while Hmlet claims to be the biggest operator, the Shanghai-based Mamahome is another competitor. Above everyone looms WeWork, the global co-working giant backed by SoftBank, which has also ventured into co-living and it going global with the concept.

Hmlet has raised up to US$8 million to date over two financing rounds. Backers include Sequoia Capital India and Singaporean VC fund Aurum Investments.

Editor: Nadine Freischlad