Is Shared Housing the Clap-back to Toronto's Rental Market?

It's old news - Toronto's housing market is prohibitive. Rent prices have skyrocketed and limited regulations have paved the way for the 'wild west' of rental markets in Toronto. This past summer, it was reported that the average cost of rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in Toronto was a whopping $2,300. Some quick calculations suggest that you would need a salary over $80,000 to comfortably afford that cost of rent while also being able to feed and cloth yourself. Given that the median household income in Toronto is only $72,830, with many 20-somethings bringing home less than $50,000, it seems almost impossible for most young people to get comfortably settled on their own.

So, what's the solution?

Enter the share economy. Brands like Airbnb and Uber have already shown us the potential to revolutionize and improve traditional industries by "sharing" property or spaces. Could shared housing be a viable solution to Toronto's housing crisis?

Sure, the term "shared housing" probably triggers memories of your college days, stuffed in a family home in your university town with 3-6 of your friends. Maybe your bedroom was missing a door, you all sucked at doing the dishes and your counter-tops were definitely littered with an assortment of 1/4 filled bottles of alcohol. We get it. But for many people starting out on their own for the first time in Toronto, the shared housing market may offer an affordable and convenient alternative to paying 1-bedroom rental costs or commuting into the city from their parent's basement.

Facebook's Bunz group offers the opportunity to find roommates or share short-term rentals, and many new renters pair with a friend to reduce individual rental costs, but there has yet to be a force in the market that works to pair young professionals and new grads with affordable living situations.

A new Toronto start-up is working to do just that. Soul Rooms is a new share economy brand that works to provide inexpensive housing options for young adults looking to 'live the downtown dream'. The brand offers fully-furnished, move-in-ready co-living rooms that feature included WiFi, cable and utilities. Soul Rooms targets its marketing at young professionals and new grads who are looking for affordable living situations downtown but who are also open and eager to meet new people. With room options as low as $1,290, Soul Rooms indeed offers a significantly lower option for living accommodations than the average apartment in Toronto's rental market.

Soul Rooms currently only offers a footprint of ~80 rooms, but as this industry disruptor expands through the Toronto market 'shared housing' may quickly become the new normal.

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