In the last couple of years, the coliving movement has gained ground among long-term travelers and people willing to spend more time in their desired destinations. Fast enough, since it was built to suit their needs, it became the go-to solution for a growing population of digital nomads and remote workers.
All of that just influenced that even more new coliving places open, as well as those following similar concepts and targeting similar audiences.
Keeping in mind that it’s still a fresh concept, at least in this new version of it, it is still hard to clearly define what should one coliving place have.
With this article, based on our personal experience of staying and collaborating with many different colivings places (as well as lookalikes), we would like to try to clarify the pillars of every coliving accommodation.
After gathering insights, working with coliving owners, and studying the movement, here is what we have found a proper coliving must have or be.
1) Have a purpose
A coliving is much more than only an adjusted travel accommodation for the working class. To truly provide a new experience as it should, coliving must have a purpose. A purpose is a bigger cause, an ideal, that a coliving promotes, an issue it wants to solve, or a philosophy it wants to spread.
The first goal of every coliving is to gather a community that will share ideas, learn from each other, and connect with like-minded people. In this sense, the community we find in a coliving is much different than that in a hostel.
Even though both establishments focus on gathering multiple people in one place, people come to hostels for financial reasons or for a short and fun experience. People coming to colivings seek to introduce something new in their lives, a change, or a new perspective.
With that in mind, a coliving should already offer an open dialog by introducing a purpose or a cause its colivers can connect around.
At the same time, to give an extraordinary experience, a coliving must show a face of tourism that has never been seen before. It should, above all, in one way or another, promote positive tourism, lifestyle, or travel opportunities.
Speaking of a more specific goal, this purpose can be anything from responsible tourism, collective learning, small city development, helping local communities, etc.
We believe that only with a purpose a coliving can truly provide something different, or at least a more profound experience that most colivers are, indeed, searching for.
2) Be resourceful
A coliving must be resourceful, in fact, much more than any other accommodation.
A true coliving must provide its colivers with an elaborate network of different insights and opportunities that would improve their experience. And not simply their stay but also offer solutions with possible long-term impact on their lives.
Even though these resources can include simple recommendations and connections, they must also be rich in the insights a person cannot find in a touristic agency.
Being resourceful for a coliving means acting as an open library with different assets, partners, and opportunities for its colivers, that a person would typically have to collect from multiple resources but can now access them in one place.
These resources include everything from local experience suggestions to learning and career opportunities.
3) Build and nourish a strong community
One of the most visible characteristics that a coliving needs to have to differ from a hostel or a hotel is a strong community. A community is also the first thing people interested in colivings look for, as that is something you don’t necessarily get in any other accommodation types.
However, many places pass “the community check” at first glance, even though they don’t have a strong community in reality. These places might get bookings at first, but what happens is that people don’t tend to return and often leave unsatisfied. The digital nomad community is also strong, so word spreads quickly. In no time, these places are not recommended anymore, and the bookings decrease.
Experienced colivers and nomads will look further than “happy group” pictures on your Instagram – they will look for proof of genuine connection and deeper relationships.
A strong community is not easy to build, but it needs your attention if you want to create a coliving. Hostels are for staying, and colivings are for living. Nobody wants to build their life on superficial relationships; and what happens inside a coliving is, indeed, life, not a vacation or simply a trip that one can easily forget if it goes badly.
4) Have an engaged community
Another important element of a coliving is an engaged community. A coliving must provide occasional activities and unique experiences for its guests to make their stay more valuable and memorable.
Your colivers expect an immersive experience because, otherwise, they would book an Airbnb.
So, to be a coliving, a place must organize entertainment, sports, arts & crafts, touristic, cultural, and other types of activities that will engage their colivers. The activities your coliving offers, should be thoughtfully crafted to make sense for your place and your unique purpose.
You are not only engaging your community with them but also telling your story, educating them on your purpose, and leaving something to remember you by.
So, if your schedule consists only of dinners in different restaurants or popular activities, you are not truly providing any value, as those are available in any other place as well. You want to craft unique experiences that people will connect to your name and brand and use the popular ones only as fillers.
The activities you provide are one of your neatest marketing tools, so make sure to put thought into them. If you’re struggling to come up with ideas yourself, book a free consultation with us, and we’ll help you figure it out!
5) Provide learning opportunities
Following the previous three aspects, learning opportunities are one of the most beneficial elements of a coliving, but unfortunately, they are also most frequently left out.
Coliving is a perfect ground for growing and learning, as it gathers a group of people with different backgrounds, knowledge, and skills.
Not only that, but most people that went through a coliving said they would appreciate developing new skills through others. Most also said they would have loved more skills-sharing sessions, brainstorming together, or other educational opportunities during their stays.
In reality, most colivings don’t offer many learning opportunities in their activity schedule, but people often find a way. Many colivers say they would love for a coliving to provide a space for them to showcase their skills or learn from others rather than waiting for it to happen randomly.
When organized properly, learning in coliving and groups comes with other valuable elements such as fun, community, support, collaboration, etc. This inclusive experience will give a completely new value to your coliving.
6) Have a clearly defined and organized living space
A coliving house should have a nice balance between community spaces and private ones. The community aspect, being a central part of the coliving experience, is crucial when organizing your areas. There should be enough communal areas for people to hang out, inside and outside, and the spaces should be big enough to host most of the colivers without making them crowded.
Just as important, there should also be spaces where your colivers can have their privacy. Unlike hostels, colivings should be made for long stays and people with full-time jobs, partners, etc. For most people, a bunk bed in a shared dorm or a small bedroom without a lounge area will not provide enough comfort and privacy for a long period.
Even though the layout and the size of the rooms are vital, it’s more impactful which functions you give to your spaces and how well they answer these functions. In the end, the places and corners of the house people choose for certain activities – they choose organically. If you put a dining table in the bedroom – the table would probably lose its function.
Most basic interior design rules follow the organic paths of life. Since coliving is a new concept, created from elements of a home, a hostel, an office, a dormitory, a hotel, etc., it is harder to make this intuitive space without giving it a lot of thought and doing many tests and errors.
Taking examples from our own homes, we can agree that sleeping, eating, working, and hanging out in the living room, although we all do it, harm our routine. Now, imagine if you were sharing this space with ten more people, all free to choose what they want to use the room for. It would not work.
That’s why for a coliving, you must experiment and find this organic path of life and follow it to create clearly defined spaces.
Colivers need to know where to go if they want to eat, hang out, chill in silence, or work, without worrying that they will disturb someone or someone will bother them. Spaces need to speak for your colivers and help break barriers in social situations.
7) Provide a workspace
Lastly, but certainly, not least importantly, a coliving must provide free, easy access to a workspace to its colivers.
The workspace can be both internal and external, but it needs to be close and fully equipped. If you have the space in your coliving for a coworking office, then a definite suggestion is to build it there. But, if you do, you must assure that the standard is like in a formal office, and provide a spacious, luminous, and fully equipped room. This room should also be strictly used for work, as per the suggestion above.
If you can’t have an internal workspace, you can also provide your colivers with external offices. The closer they are to the coliving, the better. If not close, then easily accessible with public transport, but ideally, within the walking distance radius, or reachable in under 15 minutes.
Not having a clear identifier of working space in your coliving can cause unpleasant situations as people will not be sure where to work, where to hang out, etc. This can often result in colivers“hiding” in their rooms to avoid unpleasant situations.
My coliving doesn’t have it all – Can I still call it a coliving?
Don’t worry, most colivings don’t have it all, but the goal is to always work on it and always push to achieve it all. The effort you put into ticking all these boxes is also visible and will make a difference to your colivers.
If can’t check all the boxes at this time, you should sit down and make a project blueprint to decide which elements are your current priority. Solutions are everywhere! With a willingness to provide the best experience, good partners, and a clear strategy, there is no doubt you would be able to accomplish all of these.