‘Parramatta is a place we need to be’: co-living moves to Sydney’s west


Singapore-based coliving operator Hmlet has expanded to Sydney’s western suburbs as it attempts to tap into the region’s expanding professional workforce and pitch the concept as a solution to Sydney’s rental affordability crisis.

The move is the result of a partnership between Hmlet and Sydney-based developer Revelop, which saw Hmlet add a recently-built boarding house at 16 Rees Street in Mays Hill – which was developed by Revelop – to its local portfolio. The company says Hmlet Mays Hill is the first coliving property in western Sydney.
The deal also sees an additional three properties in Harris Park, Petersham and Balgowlah, added to its future development pipeline – a boost of 110 beds in total (including Mays Hill).
The partnership, the value of which remains confidential, was brokered by JLL’s NSW director, sales & investments Dylan McEvoy, and his colleague Thomas Madigan, JLL’s associate alternative investments Australia. It follows Hmlets takeover of Caper Coliving earlier this year.

“The partnership JLL facilitated between Revelop and Hmlet will assist in Hmlet’s expansion in Australia and its goal to redefine housing particularly for young people, whose views on where they choose to live are changing,” Mr McEvoy said.
A representative for Hmlet confirmed that the company currently did not acquire or invest in the underlying real estate at its properties, instead partnering with developers and capital partners to “activate coliving assets”.
“Having Hmlet as an operator is appealing for landlords because it minimises vacancy risk and reduces operational costs while also improving the property value,” explained Mr Madigan.

Hmlet’s arrival in Sydney’s west marks a significant departure from the coliving operator’s current base in trendy inner-city suburbs such as Marrickville, Newtown, Paddington and Alexandria, but Australian managing director Chrystan Paul said it was strategically important for the company to have a presence in the rapidly expanding employment hub of Parramatta.
“You cannot ignore the fact that Parramatta is a place we need to be within the next 10 years,” Mr Paul said.

Rooms at Hmlet Mays Hill start at $330 per week. The cheapest room in Hmlet Mays Hill, which features 31 rooms over four levels and a communal rooftop, starts at $330 a week. A “full apartment” costs $525. Prices for the company’s western suburbs “flagship” property in Harris Park, which will feature 41 en suite studios, a communal kitchen, rooftop terrace and two ground-floor food and beverage outlets, are yet to be confirmed.

Educating the community

Along with attracting tenants, Hmlet also has the challenge of ensuring that the local community is onside. So far that hasn’t been a problem for the company, according to Mr Paul.
“And the simple reason is we are actually very engaged with the community, we let them know what we’re doing. The last thing we want to do is launch a building and put our logos up and nobody knows what we’re doing. A lot of people understand that what we’re doing is a new way of living.”
One of the more common obstacles the company finds itself combating is distinguishing the coliving sector from the short-term accommodation industry.
“Our minimum stay is three months but our average stay is 13 months,” Mr Paul said.
“We actually have open days so people could come in and see what it’s about. We want to hit assumptions on the head straight away and say we’re not doing short stay, we’re not Airbnb. We’re very careful of that and we are a community business.”