Coliving is a contemporary shared accommodation concept that Millennials and remote workers are adopting in the pursuit of flexibility and freedom.
With location independent jobs on the rise, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, more people are finding themselves free from the restraints of a 9-5 desk job and able to design their life based on new paradigms.
As the world prepares to find its new normal, trends such as remote work, digital nomadism and coliving will increase. If you find yourself looking for a new approach to work, life, travel and socializing, provided you’re able to work from anywhere, coliving may be for you.
In the following post, I’ll break down the difference between coliving and coworking in a single, fixed location versus the nomadic approach.
What is coliving?
While coworking isn’t a new concept, coliving is still quite a contemporary movement. Where coworking sees people share work areas, meeting rooms and resources at a discounted rate far less than the investment of renting private office space, coliving applies the same premise to accommodation.
Coliving is a housing trend toward community living where residents share accommodation, resources and experiences all the while continuing on their professional ventures.
Bedrooms are private while common areas such as kitchens, living rooms and bathrooms are shared. If your mind is conjuring up visuals of university dorm rooms, raging parties and late nights, think again.
The coliving trend is aimed at the working professional, typically, freelancers, entrepreneurs, digital nomads and full-time remote workers. Within coliving spaces, common spaces are designed to encourage interaction and connection, while workspaces are for productive and uninterrupted work. With some coliving organizations, team members may organize events and meetups for residents. Technically, coliving is like staying in a house or apartment with roommates, except you don’t have to sign a year-long lease and your roommates are ever-changing.
A response to the modern urban housing crisis, whereby people pay exorbitantly priced accommodation rates and face loneliness and isolation when living alone, coliving presents an attractive option to those seeking more affordable, flexible and interesting ways of living. Those in the younger generations, particularly Millennials, have embraced collaboration and sharing. From ride shares to coworking spaces and more, young professionals of today are disrupting conventions in the search for convenience, accessibility and experience.
If you’re someone who can work remotely, who is looking for new ways to experience the world, who wants to work hard but also have fun and make new connections, coliving may be for you.
Different types of coliving
Coliving can be divided into two different forms:
The first is ‘static’ or ‘stationary’ coliving. Here a ‘coliving space’ comes in the form of either a house or apartment, at a fixed location with a permanent address.
- Some coliving spaces have single residences, such as Sun and Co. in Spain or Mokrin House in Serbia. There is only one location that the brand offers.
- Other coliving spaces offer multiple locations within a city, state or country. For example, WeLive offers residences in New York and Washington, while Common offers locations in the top big cities across the US.
- Finally, coliving brands such as Outsite and the former market leader Roam present multiple coliving spaces across the world.
The second form of coliving, nomadic coliving, is what we at WiFi Tribe love. Truly remote, our form of nomadic coliving sees us slow travel across the world, settling in a new destination every few weeks.
With nomadic coliving, there is no fixed address or permanent location. Accommodation, either in the form of houses or apartments, are rented on a temporary basis. Once the travel period, or ‘Chapter’ as we like to call them, comes to an end, the groups move onto the next city and call a new destination home for a while.
Joining a nomadic coliving experience gives you the mobility that a permanent fixed coliving space doesn’t offer. With more freedom of choice in destination, you can decide which parts of the world you want to see.
Whether you want to learn Capoeira in Brazil or do yoga with the view of the jungle in Bali, you can base your remote work travel plans around the destination you want to explore – and not be bound to a single place. With nomadic living, the sky really is the limit to how much of the world you want to see.
Let’s unpack these two forms of co-living a little bit more.
Static coliving spaces
Static coliving is shared accommodation at a fixed location. Some companies may offer multiple accommodation spaces in their property portfolios, however, these dwellings are all permanent at set addresses.
Features of static or fixed coliving spaces
Generally, coliving spaces have several common features. These can vary from each space:
- Private rooms. In most cases, coliving spaces offer private rooms, each kitted out with comfy beds, storage space and some decorative features. In some coliving spaces, shared rooms for multiple person occupancy are available for lower rates. Depending on the brand, rooms can be basic and comfortable or more luxury and high-end.
- Shared living spaces. Communal spaces such as the kitchen, living areas and bathrooms are shared between all residents. Some coliving spaces have amazing entertainment areas and features such as gardens, rooftops, pools or gyms.
- Workspace. Ensuring that residents can maximize their productivity, most coliving spaces come with a communal workspace and blazing fast wifi. Some coliving spaces include access to a coworking space, but if not, a workspace in the form of a large table or similar will be on offer.
- Fully equipped and furnished homes. Coliving spaces come fully furnished and include appliances, amenities, utensils, linen and all the creature comforts you could ask for. Unlike renting, either individually or with roommates, in a coliving space, this is all taken care of for you, no restocking, replenishing or maintenance required.
- Laundry and cleaning services. Typically, each coliving space includes a washer, sometimes a dryer, so laundry can be done on-site. Also, communal spaces are professionally cleaned on a frequent basis, and often, private rooms can be cleaned for an additional fee.
- Events and social activities. Some coliving spaces offer their residents events, meetups and opportunities for social interactions. These are great for making new connections and friends.
Benefits of staying at a static or fixed coliving space
Offering residents convenience, flexibility and independence, coliving is a growing trend for a multitude of reasons:
- Cost. Big-city living is expensive. Especially in urban hubs like New York and San Francisco, accommodation prices are high and all-consuming of a paycheck. Coliving presents a more affordable alternative to those who may not want the responsibility of fully financing individual accommodation.
- Utilities. Another benefit of coliving is that furnishings, utilities and so on are all taken care of. Water, electric and other expenses such as wifi and sometimes cable or entertainment subscriptions are all built-in to the price of your stay. These costs are nominal as they’re shared between others, whereas kitting out an entire dwelling comes with a horde of additional expenses.
- Flexibility. At a coliving space, you can decide how long you wish to stay in one place. Whether you’re passing through a city for a few days or are looking for a medium to long term place to live for a few months, you can decide the length of your stay. Some coliving spaces have a minimum stay rule; some or as little as two days, others require a month minimum stay. Typically, there are no lease agreements or no agents in the formal rental sense, however some coliving spaces may request documentation, deposits and background checks.
- Connection. Living alone has its benefits, however, as more aspects of our lives become digitized and almost everything we do is via an app, our social connections dwindle. This, together with the fact that more jobs are remote, sees people live very isolated lives. Coliving spaces solve this growing problem by bringing people together in a form of community living, resulting in new friendships and potentially new business connections. Staying at a fixed coliving space, even for a few days, is great for someone who has just relocated to a new city and who wants to make connections while exploring their new home.
Examples of static coliving spaces
Coliving is becoming extremely popular, so you can expect to see more brands launching in this space over the next few months. Here are a few of the top fixed coliving spaces in permanent locations.
WeLive is the coliving extension of the international coworking brand WeWork. Despite the global footprint of WeWork, WeLive is only offered in two locations: New York and Washington DC. While both are available for long term stays, only the New York Wall Street location is available for short term stays.
At WeLive, accommodation is fully private, with studios or apartments of up to four bedrooms available for exclusive occupancy. Unlike other coliving spaces where you share a room in an apartment with WeLive, your living space is completely private. However, there are shared communal spaces offering a community feel.
Events are organized on a regular basis so you’re guaranteed to meet like-minded people and young professionals.
Next on the list is Outsite. Outsite currently offers 23 locations in total. A collection of these are in the US, with multiple residencies in popular cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are also several international locations, offering stays in digital nomad hotspot destinations including Lisbon, Bali and Mexico.
All Outsite locations come with great wifi and workspaces. Some locations include access to dedicated coworking spaces, however, for those that don’t include coworking spaces, there is a common working area, such as a large table to work from, as well as private desks in each room.
Outsite is a strictly members-only platform. Membership fees cost $149.00 per annum or $249.00 for a lifetime membership. The minimum required stay is only two days.
Each location comes with a community manager that assists with facilitating check-in, arranging events and generally helping out if needed. Membership comes with extra benefits, including access to the global Outsite community, access to industry experts who are also members and deals and discounts on various products and services.
Other popular coliving companies include:
- Outpost: coliving in Bali and Cambodia
- Common: locations across North America
- The Collective: coliving in London
- Roomrs: apartments and studios in New York
Note, each coliving space offers something different. Some require a membership to book; others are open to public members. Also, some coliving spaces require deposits and agreements for their minimum stays. If you’re looking for a coliving space to stay at, be sure to read each website’s terms and conditions as well as FAQ sections before booking.
Selina isn’t a coliving space in the strict sense of the word but it’s worth mentioning here as it is a good option for remote workers and digital nomads to explore.
Selina is a backpacker brand with accommodation locations all over the world – namely in Central and South America and Europe. A collection of the locations include coworking spaces, so they’re perfect for those looking for a place to stay and work, with flexibility in their travel dates. Like coliving spaces, these locations are fixed at permanent addresses.
As Selina is primarily backpacker accommodation, you’ll also meet travellers who are on vacation and aren’t working. There are events and tours offered via the front desk and management, so in terms of socializing, you’ll never get bored. This can be great if you’re also looking for others to explore the city with or make friends. Even though backpacker culture can appear loud and rowdy, the Selina coworking spaces are quiet and peaceful, and you’ll be able to work without distraction.
You could opt to stay and work at Selina, or simply make use of the coworking space. Accommodation and coworking space passes can be purchased via the Selina website.
Digital nomad coliving
With nomadic coliving, accommodation isn’t fixed at a single location; instead, the world is your oyster, and you choose which destinations you want to explore. There are nomadic coliving travel programs for freelancers, entrepreneurs and remote workers. This is a form of community living that takes work and play on the road.
Features of digital nomad coliving
- True location-independence. Opting to cowork and colive as a digital nomad as part of a program means that you won’t be tied down to a single location or handful of locations. Here you’ll have the flexibility to choose which parts of the world you’d like to explore, and can base your travel itinerary around where you’d like to go.
- Member application. Most nomadic travel programs will have some form of membership structure with an application process to ensure that participants meet certain criteria.
- Shared accommodation. Similar to static coliving, bedrooms are private, while communal spaces are shared. Each house and apartment is fully furnished and equipped with all of the necessary utensils and appliances.
- Workspaces and workability. When travelling with a digital nomad program, the program facilitator will ensure that you have an adequate workspace and that you can work with ease. If you were to travel the world and stay in hotels, hostels or Airbnbs, good wifi and a workspace is not always guaranteed.
- Events and social interactions. Each program or chapter will have at least one facilitator that will take care of running daily operations, offering assistance and creating social activities. There are generally program welcome events and weekly get-togethers curated by the facilitator. Independent to the program, participants quickly make connections and arrange social activities with each other and on behalf of the group.
Typically, most digital nomad coliving programs function in a somewhat similar format. There are slight differences between each brand’s offering, typically in price and travel program style. For example:
- Unsettled offers ‘retreats’ in several destinations around the world. Retreats range in length from one or two weeks, or a full month. Shorter experiences are ideal for a digital detox or downtime, while the longer programs are great for immersive work and travel experiences.
- Hackers Paradise offers a handful of programs throughout a year. These are generally one-month long, but participants can choose to enter a program one week in or halfway through.
- Remote Year has a more strict approach to their travel programs. They offer either four, six or twelve-month programs in set destinations around the world. Groups can include up to 70 people. Bundled into the price, the Remote Year team will take care of all of your travel arrangements such as flights and transport from destinations.
Curious about the differences between these and other digital nomad coliving programs?
Read our blog post What to consider before joining a remote work travel group.
WiFi Tribe is a little bit different from the brands mentioned above in that we offer multiple chapters taking place simultaneously. At any given time, we could have up to four chapters running concurrently, so our offering is more widespread than the brands mentioned above.
Depending on your travel plans, joining WiFi Tribe, you could hop across the globe following the sun or slow travel across South America for a year, one city at a time. Bali, Thailand, Portugal and Colombia; you could find yourself in a new digital nomad hotspot each month of the year, making new friends and new memories.
But do you want to know what really makes the Wifi Tribe coliving experience extra special?
Benefits of digital nomad coliving with WiFi Tribe
Beyond a place to sleep and a place to work, our digital nomad travel experiences focus on connection and friendship in community living. If caipirinha masterclasses and cuddle puddles sound like fun, keep reading.
- Membership application. Our member application process is a little different from other travel programs. We want to ensure that all of our members share common values and that these align with the values of our company. Basing our membership entry on shared values means that all of our members will have some form of common thread in their outlook, intention or intrinsic nature.
- Global network. Once you’ve joined the WiFi Tribe, you’ll automatically be added to our Slack team. Here you’ll be able to chat with any of our 800+ members, post questions to connect with your community, and share resources with others. Before your chapter starts, you’ll be added to a chapter-specific Slack team so you can ‘meet’ the friendly faces you’ll be travelling with.
- Friendships and connection. Bringing together a group of people with shared values is a recipe for success. Friendships are sparked almost instantaneously, and are guaranteed to last a lifetime. Even after traveling on one WiFi Tribe chapter, you’ll have a network of nomads that you can arrange to meet up with anywhere in the world. You may also meet your next business partner, client or collaborator via the WiFi Tribe.
- Organized events. Each chapter is assigned at least one facilitator who is responsible for operations, assistance and seeing that everything runs smoothly. At the start of a chapter, we host an introduction evening for everyone to meet. Tribal Tuesday takes place each week for potluck dinners and get-togethers.
- Flexibility and freedom. While we do organize some events for each chapter, we don’t curate daily activities so that you can set your schedule. Your work and productivity levels are important, so we let you design your days based on your to-do list. Lunches and dinners with Tribers are always fun, and if you have plenty of free time during the week, you can explore more of the city.
- Social events. We let our community suggest and plan social activities so that the group can explore together. Cities such as Medellin, Lisbon, Thailand and Bali have thriving nomad and expat communities, and there are plenty of meetups and events to join.
- Weekend trips. One of the best things about settling in a new place for as long as four weeks is that you have enough time to see the city and its surroundings. Each weekend, you have the option of exploring a nearby town or country, so maybe add a few extra destinations to your bucket list before you join a chapter.
- Coworking. Some nomadic coliving groups include passes to coworking spaces within their fees. We like to keep things flexible and let you work the way you like, so we won’t lock you into a fixed coworking space at a higher cost. Feel free to explore the city and work from cafes, libraries and botanical gardens. If you want to sign up for a coworking space, it’s up to you, but we’ll always provide ample workspaces within our houses and apartments.
- Wifi and workability. We take care of internet and connectivity issues so you can work without any downtime. We always travel with multiple mobile wifi devices in case there is a problem with a residence’s connectivity.
- Professional development. Our community is filled with industry experts ready and waiting to share their skills. From financial planning to SEO and biohacking, each chapter’s skillshares and masterminds will bring you face-to-face with experts ready to share their knowledge with you. If you’re lucky enough to be on a chapter with Diego, you’re guaranteed a caipirinha masterclass too.
- Extensive travel destinations. We offer chapters in several destinations around the world. We particularly love frequenting the digital nomad hotspots of Bali, Lisbon, Medellin and Thailand, but are constantly on the lookout for new and exciting places to explore. Our Make It Happen chapters let you, our community, vote for where we’ll go next.
- Affordability. Our chapters can range anywhere from $1200 to $2300 per month-long chapter depending on destination and choice between private or shared room. Discounted rates are available for those who wish to travel longer, for example, opting for three chapters a year decreases the per-chapter rate to only $1000.00 – a steal in comparison to the rental rates in New York and the Bay Area districts. Need more info on our pricing structure? Get the details here.
- Security. Sometimes, navigating a city alone can be tough. Staying in an Airbnb alone can be isolating, even more so if the city you’re in doesn’t have a large nomad community, or there are language barriers. If you’re a bit cautious about travelling to a city alone or you’re concerned about safety issues, with WiFi Tribe, you’ll have a group of up to 25 friends with you, exploring and making memories together.
If you’re tired of staying in the same place, seeing the same faces and going to the same bars on the weekend, it may be time for a new adventure. If you’re looking for an exciting new way to see the world while you’re making money, nomadic coliving is the way to go.
Get work done, make new friends and fill your passport pages. Apply to join WiFi Tribe and enjoy a new way of working.
We hope this article helped you get more familiar with the amazing possibilities available to remote workers. We hope that you’re clued up on the difference between static and nomadic coliving, and that you have a good idea of what the different travel programs are like. If you have a job that you can do from anywhere, static or nomadic coliving are easily within reach.