Co-Living and PBSA: Are They The Same?

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Hadeel Hossam

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19 February, 2021

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4 mins read

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Student Housing

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Many students aim to have a memorable university experience filled with academic achievement and social adventures. That’s why they put a lot of thought into their choice of university as well as the place they’ll call home for the next three to four years. With  a huge resource of information available on the matter, the terms co-living and PBSA have been used interchangeably in many conferences, articles and amongst students themselves. However, are they, in fact, the same thing? If not, then what is the difference between them? Here’s all you need to know about both co-living and PBSAs so you can make a more informed decision regarding your living situation while studying abroad.

What is Co-Living?

Co-living or purpose-built shared living space (PBSL) is the concept of sharing a living space with one or more other individuals. You would have a private room, but a common kitchen, utility space and a lounge area. This type of living option is ideal for those who moved to a new location to start a new job or study abroad

The Benefits of Co-Living

1. It’s Convenient 

One of the perks of co-living is how convenient it is when it comes to flexibility since you are not obligated to sign a lease agreement. “Co-living spaces offer flexible lease periods that can range from short-term to long-term”, says Abhishek Kulkarni, Chairman and Managing Director of Million Sqft Realty Pvt Ltd. That means you won’t feel trapped and can easily pack up and leave if you decide to. This is a huge advantage for those who are constantly moving due to their job or those who have wanderlust. Another convenient aspect is how affordable it is compared to the usual city living or shared housing. It may not be as cheap as a hostel, for example, but it definitely offers a lot of perks to make up for it.

2. Comfort Comes First

When people make the decision to move away from home, they expect to have to compromise when it comes to their comfort. However, co-living prioritises residents’ comfort with premium services and facilities to make it feel like home. Co-living spaces are fully furnished, and many include services like weekly cleaning, laundry service, and communal areas like workspaces, gym, swimming pool, and more! Several co-living spaces also hold events like yoga and festival nights, so you can socialise and get to know the other residents.

3. It’s A Great Social Experience

One of the best things about co-living is that you get to share your home with like-minded people and might even end up making lifelong friendships. The sense of community and belonging is definitely worth it, especially for new people in a big city who want to socialise and make connections. Your living companions are probably in a similar situation; therefore, you will share multiple experiences together as you get to know your new home.

What is PBSA

Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) is a type of private housing that provides apartments or studios as well as shared living spaces for university students. The services and facilities included in these living spaces are tailored to cater for students in higher education with communal study areas, 24/7 security, and laundry facilities. Recently, Purpose-built student accommodation buildings have added entertainment facilities like games areas, cinema rooms, spas, swimming pools, and even gym facilities. There are even some PBSAs that offer on-site cafes or grocery stores with some providing free breakfast for students.

Why is PBSA Important

Only a decade ago the concept of PBSAs didn’t even exist however they have significantly increased in number recently. Previously, university students only had the option to live in university-owned halls or converted Homes for Multiple Occupation (HMOs). However, that was not always the best choice for students’ needs. PBSAs offer many perks that meet every student’s needs. They have private rooms,  first-rate facilities, and some even have flexible payment options. Within a couple of years, PBSAs have become a very attractive option for university students, especially international ones, giving them a home away from home. 

The Benefits of Purpose-built Student Accommodation (PBSA)

1. They’re Usually All-Inclusive

One of the pain points for students before PBSAs was that they had to pay a separate fee for utilities. With PBSAs, student rooms are usually offered as a package that isn’t just the rental fee but also includes utilities like water, gas and electricity. Some even include r phone contracts. This relieves students from many responsibilities and explains the slightly higher rate than renting without inclusive utility bills.

2. They’re Close To Campus

Commuting daily to class can be a huge hassle, especially for international students who might not know their way around the area. One of PBSAs’ major selling points is how they are usually located within a short walking distance to the local university/universities. PBSA investors make sure they choose ideal locations with several academic institutions nearby that are easily accessible.. In the case that the accommodation is not within walking distance of campus, they are strategically placed close to public transport , and some even offer private shuttle buses to campus.

3. They Build Cultural Awareness

One of the best things about PBSAs is how they are filled with students from all over the world, bringing different cultures and backgrounds together. A student living in a PBSA will get to a unique social experience meeting all kinds of people and sharing their university experience with them. It can also help international students’ transition from living at home to living in a new city much easier by developing a sense of community with like-minded students.

So, Is Co-Living and PBSA The Same?

Technically speaking, PBSAs fall into a sub-category under the concept of co-living. While they are very similar, the key difference between them is the type of resident. When it comes to co-living, it can house students, families, couples, or individuals. PBSAs, on the other hand, are specifically made for university students. In fact, you can think of co-living as a natural next step for students who have lived in a PBSA for 4 years and want to start their professional lives without the huge expense that comes with living alone in a rented apartment.

In a nutshell, while co-living and PBSAs share many attributes regarding the wide choice of apartments, studios, or en-suites as well as the accompanying facilities and services, they are still not quite the same. Now you have the full intel on both concepts that can help you move forward as you choose your student accommodation, ensuring maximum convenience and comfort.


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