What is a sharing economy? Is it the future? We believe that there is evidence that Toronto and many other major urban centres are beginning to trend towards becoming a sharing economy, and we’re going to spend all of May 2016 discussing it on our blog!
First of all, what does it mean to have a sharing economy? Simply put, it’s a social system that is structured around the sharing of both tangible and intellectual resources. Another term for it would be collaborative consumption.
There are two reasons why we think Toronto, especially downtown, is trending towards becoming a sharing economy, but let’s get one thing straight first; we don’t believe that a large city can ever fully rely on sharing, but it can definitely become more prevalent.
The first reason sharing may become a more popular alternative to purchasing and owning things is because millennials don’t have as much money as their parents did at this time in their lives. Homes are more expensive, school is more expensive, and salaries are low. In some cases, sharing may be the only option.
The second reason is because of high density living. When it comes to downtown condo living, there isn’t enough space to have many possessions, so having communal items, spaces, and appliances just makes sense.
So what kind of evidence will we be exploring this month? Forward thinking condo developers like Daniels are including innovative amenities in their new projects. At Lighthouse Tower, there will be a kitchen library where you can rent out appliances that you either can’t afford or you don’t have space to store properly.
The popularity and use of car-share is growing quickly. Is there a parking garage or lot in Toronto that doesn’t have a ZipCar, Car2Go, or AutoShare vehicle? Even Uber is a good example of sharing economy. You don’t have a car? It’s okay, someone else does and they’re willing to give you a ride. Granted, in a real sharing economy, you would probably trade something other than money for that ride, but it’s still a good example of you using something that’s not yours and having access to it because someone else does have it.
Online sharing groups within condo communities have also started popping up. For Liberty Village, there is a “Buy and Sell” group on Facebook that allows residents to trade, buy, and sell goods. There are numerous postings a day for things of all sizes, from coat hangers to leather couches to Raptors, Jays, and Leafs tickets (all of which have to be sold below face value).
We already see friends teaming up to look for condo units and houses to rent all over the world, that’s common, but will it soon become more common for friends to purchase together? Maybe young couples will team up to buy a larger home than they could afford on their own. Would it be odd to see two full grown couples living in a four- or five-bedroom house?
Stay tuned - we will be exploring the complexities of a sharing economy and all this evidence in greater detail throughout May.