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In the past decade, we’ve seen a major increase in coworking spaces. But now, a new way of life is spreading across the globe that gives people another opportunity to thrive in a social, creative environment: coliving.
What is coliving, and why are people doing it?
Coliving brings people together into one living space where they can connect and experience life with a group of new people. The concept originated in the United States and has been spreading all across Europe, and trust us, it’s not as crazy as it seems. People choose coliving spaces because they are passionate about life or work and want a place to share their ideas and learn from those around them. When it comes down to it, coliving is all about creating and sharing new experiences, and we’ve seen a rise in coliving in recent years because younger generations are starting to value experiences more than possessions.
Since young professionals are flocking to the scene, coliving spaces are using short-term leases for residents to sign month-to-month agreements. This caters perfectly to millennials who seek temporary living arrangements in case they happen to move or switch jobs, and also to the majority who are more interested in spending money on experiences instead of with owning property. China’s coliving boom shows how quickly millennials are heading to coliving spaces and just how much investors are supporting that growth:
Mofang Gongyu, a coliving company in Shanghai, raised $300 million in funding in June 2016 and is now worth over $1 billion
Youke Yiji raised $22 million in November 2014
Mogu Gongyu raised $30 million in November 2014
Daniel Beck, 34, Norway, recently sold his previous company to join the coliving movement. He started Coliving.com and opened business online in March 2016 to make coliving accommodations more accessible to millennials and coliving newcomers, said Beck, in an interview for BCNewt blog. The website allows people to search through various coliving options around the world, and as of July 2016, the website features 29 countries and is still growing.
“I wanted to build something that would amplify the process of the coliving movement, seeing that accommodation like we have today is not suitable for location-independent millennials,” Beck says. “Everyone is betting that [coliving] will be the next big thing in real-estate.”
Beck’s research before starting Coliving.com showed that millennials were lacking the resources they needed to find efficient and shared spaces in various locations. The first thing we see on Coliving.com is the line: “Live with people that inspire you!”, which resonates with Beck’s eagerness to help these millennial nomads and young professionals find a place to live where they can learn from one another in a comfortable environment.
With a coliving search hub, young professionals can now easily find shared accommodations in cities worldwide. There’s even a wide variety of accommodations listed on Coliving.com ranging from houses to apartments and even some boats.
Is coliving as great as people say?
If you’re still wondering what all the hype is about, coliving has a wide range of aspects that draw people in. Emmanuel Guisset, founder of the coliving company Outsite, says coliving is possible by three factors: changing demographics and lifestyle factors, an evolving definition of work and a receptive real estate market backed by investors who are capitalizing on reduced risk and quick profits.
Lifestyle changes that millennials and Gen Y workers experience are ultimately changing their definition of work. There’s an increase in job flexibility with 18-24 year olds as they’re switching jobs more frequently than their parent’s generation did and not putting too much focus on job stability. In fact, it’s estimated that there will be over one billion digital nomads in the world by 2035 since the moving and working mindset is changing so much. Coliving spaces cater to people who belong to this group because instead of living or traveling alone, they can connect with community-minded people, meet travelers or locals, collaborate and share ideas and resources, all within coliving spaces.
As far as real estate goes, development and investment has been gaining speed in the past three-to-four years, and this has been pushing the growth of the coliving sector. Investors saw its potential, and young home buyers saw it as a cheaper solution to home buying, where it’s not as easy now to purchase a home because of unstable and rising prices.
Kim-Mai Cutler wrote for TechCrunch on her experiences with coliving and her experiment with Roam Co-living, which has international spaces like a historical building in the heart of Madrid, starting at $500 a week. After her travels, she found a few similarities between cities and coliving spaces. Cutler said she believes they “provide a kind of built environment that works for people who aren’t in nuclear families but are still seeking community.” In her first coliving space in Indonesia, she saw this form of community through events that happened for residents including language classes and watching local chefs to do pop-up dinners.
“In place of community, I would like to see co-living serve a simpler end: Camaraderie. Literally meaning “one with whom one shares one’s bedroom,” the term camaraderie allows for the possibly of friendship, trust, and common interest, but requires only shared space. Camaraderie acknowledges one’s relation to others within a group, but, rather than demanding unity, it accepts difference.”
Who runs the show?
Like Beck, many big companies notice the growing coliving trend and are opening businesses to support the movement. For example, the international coworking company WeWork started building coworking offices because more and more people were looking for a unique and collaborative work environment. WeWork expanded that same idea to coliving with its new sister company, WeLive. WeLive opened in late 2015 based on values like community, flexibility and good company, and some of its New York residents say their favorite part about being in a coliving space is the family or community environment that comes from being close together in shared, interconnected rooms.
“WeLive challenges traditional apartment living through physical spaces that foster meaningful relationships.”
Spain has been a big supporter of the coliving movement, too. Sende is a coliving and coworking company in northern Spain located 30 minutes from the border of Portugal, and it converts old Galician houses into creative spaces. Sende’s location is the perfect spot to bring out people’s natural creativity, too, because it’s a great region to go hiking or biking. One of its unique features is that Sende offers retreats and camping trips to residents and workers.
For a beachy area in Spain, the Hub Fuerteventura may be your best bet. Located in the Canary Islands, Hub Fuerteventura has two coliving options: a villa hub or an apartment, and offers coworking office spaces, too. The Hub Fuerteventura website says it’s dedicated to “tech and digital entrepreneurs, digital nomads, bloggers, travelers, surfers, digi-hippies, remote workers, designers, coders and all the free minded people like you.” It’s a place that mixes adventure and passion.
The Barcelona BCNewt coworking space also offers a similar plan to coliving. In August, we host a Coworking Holiday that connects travelers with local coworkers, entrepreneurs and like-minded leaders to show them the true Barcelona. The Coworking Holiday is a great way to experience the Mediterranean life and find local spots not overcrowded by tourists. Plus, the BCNewt House is located near the beach, a shopping center and numerous restaurants in Poblenou, so you get the full experience!
In London, The Collective also blends coliving and coworking ideas. The Collective built one of the world’s largest coliving buildings called Old Oak, which has over 550 rooms and provides residents with a communal lounge, dining room, kitchen, gym, terrace, garden, library, sports bar, cinema, laundromat and the list goes on. On top of that, it has spaces for rent for coworkers at three different locations in London.
The Collective’s current work in progress, The Stratford Collective, expected to open in 2018, will be a 112-metre-high skyscraper with 223 coliving apartments. The space is made affordable for young people, and coliving residents will share everything from their living space to their kitchen and bathroom.
Coliving has become a big trend in Europe during recent years, but China’s current coliving boom comes from years and years of coliving production. You+ is one of the best-known and largest chains among China’s startup community, and since its start in 2012, co-founders Liu Yang and Liu Xin soon established a nationwide chain of residences. You+ currently claims to house over 10,000 people across 25 branches, and many residents are startup founders or employees.
Based off similar principles of coliving spaces around the world, You+ lets young people in China live in an environment that’s more social than the average apartment complex. This makes it easier for young entrepreneurs to get tips and learn from other entrepreneurs around them. On top of that, residents in one part of the You+ chain can stay overnight at a different branch if they are traveling for business.