You’ve heard of coworking spaces. But do you know about coliving ones? An Upwork study revealed that by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, an 87% percent increase from pre-pandemic levels. And with that newfound flexibility come flexible lifestyle arrangements.
What Is Coliving?
Coliving provides remote workers with the opportunity to combine work and travel in a community-centric environment that comes with cool perks – and, most importantly, the opportunity to connect with cool people at the same time.
“Work anywhere. Live differently. Beautiful places to stay, designed for remote workers.” This is Outsite’s tagline – a coliving company that was founded in 2015 and has locations across the globe. Though apartments are available, the typical coliving experience combines the privacy of your own room with access to intentionally designed communal spaces (and reliable wifi, of course.) Rates vary depending on the destination and length of stay. In some cases, it can be cheaper than paying rent. In others, it’s comparable or slightly more expensive.
What a Remote Worker Who’s Done It Has to Say
“After being a self-employed writer/editor and working from home since 2014, in 2022, I finally realized my lifelong dream of becoming a digital nomad. I left my rental house, put all my belongings in storage, and hit the road – and the first place I went to was a pop-up coliving house in the Basque Country, where I stayed for a month,” says Jessica Grace Coleman, an author, travel transformation coach, and the founder of Flip The Script Travel Transformation Services.
Coleman opted for a coliving space called Sun and Co. “They’re all about building community and sharing your skills and knowledge with your fellow colivers. With this in mind, I started that month with a solid intention: to overcome my fear of public speaking,” she says.
As a shy introvert, that goal was way out of her comfort zone. But she volunteered to lead a skill-share session and give a presentation to her new housemates. “My fears were standing in the way of me progressing in my career – and being happy in my life in general – and I knew I had to do something about it,” she adds. She spent the rest of the month involving herself in social and professional events in her coliving community.
“After working on transforming myself for a whole month, I’m happy to say that my fear was more or less gone,” says Coleman, who believes coliving spaces offer a great opportunity for personal growth.
Besides challenging herself to get out of her comfort zone, Coleman says that the best part of the coliving experience was community and connection: “After living on my own and working from home for several years, not to mention all the isolating lockdowns, I was craving community and connection – and I got it in spades. I met some amazing people, whom I’ve gone on to visit and travel with in other places, and it has completely changed the way I travel, the way I work, and the way I see the world.”
The Potential Downsides of Coliving Spaces
Intrigued by Coleman’s experience? There are potential downsides to keep in mind. For one, Coleman says that it can be difficult to strike the right balance of work versus play, as people are on different schedules and want to socialize at different times. “FOMO is real in coliving spaces, and it can be hard to turn down a night out or a day trip if you need to work. You have to create strong boundaries and really commit to your working hours,” she says.
Sharing a room with other location-independent workers can be cheaper, but it can also be overwhelming, so you may want to factor the costs of getting a private room into your decision. “Lastly, there are the usual downsides that inevitably appear when you’re living with a large group of people – messy communal areas, unclean kitchens, having to wait for the bathroom – but they’re just small things, and I’ve been lucky to experience coliving with mostly kind, thoughtful, considerate people,” says Coleman.
Who Coliving Is Best Suited For
Coleman recommends the experience to any remote worker, but she warns that it won’t be the right fit for you if you’re just looking for a place to work and sleep. “Some people book coliving spaces as a cheaper alternative to staying in a hotel, and this is totally missing the point of coliving,” she says.
“As with anything in life, the more you put into the experience, the more you’ll get out of it – and that’s exactly what it is. An experience. If you do that, you’ll no doubt come away with some incredible memories and friends for life.”