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The Work/Travel Trend of Coliving

As the digital nomad, long-term travel, solo travel, and expat retirement lifestyles have grown in popularity, a brand-new living accommodation trend has sprouted: coliving.

One of the advantages of a coliving arrangement is the customization it provides based on what you need and want. In general, coliving can be defined as an accommodation that allows you to build a community—however short- or long-lived—and make connections with others who share the space and lifestyle with you.

You can find a coliving arrangement that gives you as much or as little personal space as you need and fits your budget: there are bunk rooms and private en suite options out there. Beyond that, coliving offers fully furnished shared kitchens, shared living areas, and shared office/computer space in which to work. For those wanting all the amenities, there are also options with rooftop pools, access to a gym, yoga classes, outdoor living space, and/or ongoing calendars of optional events, like day trips and excursions you can take with your housemates. Coliving offers more community than a long-term AirBnB might, more amenities than a bare-bones boarding house, and a more work-friendly environment than a hostel.

Coliving spaces are run by companies like Nomad House, Roam, Selina, Unsettled, Common, and many others, offering a range of locations that include Sweden, the U.S., the U.K., Spain, Peru, Costa Rica, Tokyo, and others. The earliest companies, like Common, started up in order to make longer-stay travel to expensive cities like New York City more affordable. Most companies will not only help you arrange your stay in a location that fits your needs, they’ll also split up utility bills, make sure the Wifi works, keep the shared living spaces clean, and stock the spaces with essentials.

Sound like coliving might be right for your next travel adventure? Run through these pros and cons to make sure coliving stacks up for you.

Pros

  • Effortless, natural socializing—great for solo travelers and couples.
  • Reduced cost of living (usually). While it might be more expensive than some hotel and hostel options in the area, the dependability of amenities, conveniences, etc. makes it a better deal, usually, than trying to set up a short-term lease on your own.
  • Skillshares. You could participate in a skillshare, where you can learn about culture, culinary traditions, digital or travel skills, and more from your housemates.
  • No commute! You can pack in or spread out your work hours at any time of day without wasting time and money commuting, or fighting for a space in a café ,or hunting down a reliable Wifi connection.
  • Better productivity. You can sync your hours to clients around the globe when you have all of your gear in one place and a workspace to call your own.
  • Help getting settled. Your coliving buddies can help you get situated in a new country and to the coliving lifestyle. They’ll be able to show you to the best place to get groceries, share who serves the best coffee or beer, and inform you on local customs.
  • Peace of mind. Having your live/work spaces together and shared with a limited number of people you get to know well can give you more peace of mind.

Cons

  • Work and private life blend. Your housemates are now also your coworkers. You might not feel as relaxed when not working because your workplace is the living room, or kitchen counter, or desk in your bedroom. You’ll need to decide how much separation you need, if you’re a digital nomad, to enjoy your time abroad.
  • Decreased productivity. If you have a hard time creating boundaries and setting routines that allow you to be productive when working, the shared and combined living spaces of coliving—where your new friends might not be working and want to play ping pong instead—could harm your productivity
  • Shared living. Sharing common spaces with several other adults might not be your thing.
  • Sometimes personalities clash. You might not get along with all of your housemates. Coliving companies try to pair like personalities, lifestyles, etc. together, but that doesn’t guarantee coliving harmony.
  • Work schedules might not coordinate. Depending on the home time zones of your housemates, your working hours might not coincide. This will require extra work to keep quiet hours and respect when others are working and can’t join in for an outing or board game.
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