Pandemic Shifts Demand From PGs To Shared Accommodation and Co-living

Since it was difficult for many professionals to return to their homes safely amidst multiple lockdowns and due to work priorities, our latest survey indicates some insecurity is brewing in the PG accommodation sector

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As COVID-19 positive cases surge across the country, migrant bachelors staying in paying guest (PG) accommodations have started to feel increasingly vulnerable to viral exposure. Most PGs do not offer a single room and social distancing is not easy to maintain. Since it was difficult for many professionals to return to their homes safely amidst multiple lockdowns and due to work priorities, our latest survey indicates some insecurity is brewing in the PG accommodation sector.

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In a bid to ensure compliance with social distancing and health safety, as many as 36.2 per cent of respondents have stated that they are looking to switch to shared houses from PGs and 33.7 per cent have expressed their preference to move to co-living apartments. The survey clearly indicates that the pandemic has shifted priorities from ‘proximity to the workplace’ to ‘safe and hygienic stays’. Most of them are actively looking to shift to accommodations that not only offer enhanced safety but are also equipped with additional comforts and facilities comparatively. Apart from a pool of common amenities such as Wi-Fi, kitchen, laundry and housekeeping, among others, these spaces also offer more flexible terms of exit, choices, safety, security and social infrastructure at affordable price points compared with its traditional counterparts.

While choosing an accommodation, 73.8 per cent respondents considered safety as their top-most concern. 53.6 per cent put emphasis on room size and cleanliness, and over 47 per cent cited hygienic food and W-Fi as important factors, as highlighted by the same survey.

Apart from social distancing which was cited by the maximum number of people (29.8 per cent), reasons such as work from home (21.5 per cent), not finding the current accommodation suitable (16.2 per cent), and individual homes becoming more affordable due to drop in rent (14.1 per cent), were also factors that contributed to this shift.

Given the dynamic shift in consumers’ preferences, a lot of co-living players are redesigning their facilities to accommodate the needs of the current times. Many of them are redoing common utility spaces in a manner that would allow social distancing and reduce the risk of infection. Around 72.9 per cent of consumers have mentioned that they would prefer a single room to control the risk of infection and as a result many players are brainstorming on how to redesign the existing facilities as per their preferences.

Our data and the survey we conducted clearly indicates that the current situation has made the co-living, individual and shared accommodation segment more popular over PG accommodation. The trend is likely to continue as the rate at which community spreading is happening is quite frightening. Priorities have clearly shifted from ‘proximity to workplace’ to ‘safe and hygienic place’. At the same time, this segment is also seeing some migrant bachelors going back to their hometowns and would be coming back once the work-from-office resumes. Times are difficult but it is good to see that people are also acting responsibly and doing the best that they can to stay safe and stop the spread of the pandemic.

India is the third worst hit country with respect to COVID-19. The shift in consumer choices is therefore not surprising. Consumers want a safe and spacious stay in a good locality and with credible players.

The impact of COVID-19 will stay with us for much longer. Health and wellbeing will remain the two key factors for anyone and everyone to lead a safer life from now on. And considering the large pool of amenities that shared accommodations and co-living spaces offer along with ensuring enhanced safety protocols, this alternative will gradually become a necessity for modern migrants as they acclimatize themselves to the new normal.