🏡 living spaces giving connection 🤝
Coliving takes many forms, from commercial serviced micro-studios with restaurants, all the way to grassroots collaborative houses sharing potluck dinners. Every coliving space has its own character, yet shares the fundamental principles and benefits of:
⭐️ facilitating exchanges encouraging comfortable proximity amongst us
⭐️ improving quality of life with better facilities collectively
Some spaces have a community facilitator, in others events and activities are ad-hoc with everyone participating. Whether communal meals, accountability standups or laundry discos…
Coliving is most often offered inclusive of linens, utilities, and housekeeping. As a single cost, without a long-term contract so it's easy to not only move in, but also move on.
In purpose-built properties the coliving format enables operators to invest in better collective facilities by achieving higher occupancy with smaller private rooms.
The use of coliving spaces can span beyond being a mere home, even whilst welcoming us as one, to include work, learning, wellbeing and impact. 🤩
For a more general backgrounder we recommend this article by Outsite.
What are some types of coliving spaces?
- coliving homes
Most often houses within metros and commuter belts, providing typically longer-term housing with the like-minded, frequently using their common spaces for interaction. Also known as residential coliving.
- coliving retreats and workations
Generally in holiday and escape destinations, emphasising activities and location. Often used by digital nomads, and city dwellers escaping for a few weeks or months. Also known as destinational coliving, and sometimes functioning as popup spaces or with programmes as retreats.
- coliving hubs and complexes
Oriented around dedicated workspaces, mixing non-residents and local professionals, combining aspects of both homes and retreats. Multiplying collaboration and camaraderie! Complexes are large-scale with many common facilities, maybe even fully serviced spaces such as a restaurant, coworking…
Let's be clear, coliving is not…
A stereotypical flat or house share, in which anyone is simply thrown together by chance and circumstance — as opposed with purposeful reason.
A landlord advertising a property as coliving but unable to describe how they facilitate interaction or whom their community is, most certainly is not housing a community. Facilities do not define coliving, a purposeful and welcoming community does. Even though members of a houseshare may create a community of their own, it can be a bit of a clique no?
Since its conception in the 2000's coliving has stood for community–living. But with many new landlords and property developers seeing the benefits of using layouts that reduce unit size to improve revenues, the need for community and common spaces can be missed.
We encourage the use of the coliving community label to identify properties having purposeful connections amongst their members, and not simply using a coliving layout.
Is coliving intentional?
There are similarities between coliving and intentional communities in that both bring people together as a community, yet a distinction in orientation is worth considering…
- with intention, members are attracted to and follow closely related approaches to life based around what we seek to do or believe
- in purpose a commonality of why we want to share and participate together is prevalent, amongst diverse approaches to life
You're more likely to share philosophical approaches with those in coliving spaces, than specific beliefs or pursuits. In coliving we most often see a why simply being the wish to avoid isolation, loosely sharing amongst diverse independent lifestyles, as opposed intentional communities in which we more tightly enact a shared lifestyle.
An effect of this differentiation, is that intentional communities (including cohousing) tend to have long-term involvements and membership criterion to ensure community consistency, whilst coliving is more flexible and open.
Approaches blend and can combine, so every community should be considered unique. We each may suit one more than the other, there are of course also pros and cons. In a purposeful space there is more diversity and thus opportunity for connections and ideas, whilst in an intentional space there is more immersion and potential for deeper learning.
What of engagement?
A community in which some members are not participating, is a broken community. One does not move into a coliving space simply to use its facilities—we join with the purpose of being part of the community, and investing effort to support and improve it.
In a houseshare it is common for housemates to not participate, everyone is really just there for accommodation. Nonetheless this does also happen in coliving spaces, and let's not overlook that we all need some time alone. However when recurring it requires remediation as otherwise it harms the community as a whole. This is where coliving significantly differs as everyone is invested in ensuring the well-being and involvement of each other.
In so doing we find ways to include and draw-in new members without unduly imposing. As coliving is flexible, should one find oneself not fitting so well within a specific community, we all have an easy way out. Giving each other some opportunity to try is essential to our openness.
Obviously the larger a space is, the less proximity there is with others, thus social groups may organise around floors or apartments, rather than the whole community, yet still gather and bump into each other.
Some operational variations
Common with coliving homes and complexes, run by a management company, albeit one that has invested in community by either having a live-in manager, or someone who frequently drops around to facilitate and encourage!
- lifestyle business
Typical for retreat spaces but less so in homes except the more intentional, their hands-on founders enjoy sharing the journey.
These are spaces that exist only for a short time, typically by taking over a rented villa. May be organised ad-hoc amongst a group all sharing the desire to spend some time in the same place, and benefit from doing so together (as a community!), or by a business, whom offers it as a service.
Rather than utilising a single property, their operator has multiple individual facilities which they link together in some manner, such as through a coworking space or events circulating the buildings. These communities tend to be much looser as the principle of proximity doesn't always apply, or only with subgroups.
This is a legal and structural distinction. As with a housing co-operative, they are owned by or operated for the benefit of their members. They may be organised around rental members, and/or owners, however equity ownership arrangements vary.
Is there a difference with cohousing?
Coliving brings people closer together by virtue of proximity across many aspects of life. Living under the same roof engenders more collaboration, than simply by virtue of being neighbours as in cohousing, where common facilities or coworking are not integral components of interaction.
An example can be given through food—for independent units meals may be intentionally collaborative just once a week, whilst in a coliving space they will be participatory most of the time simply because the kitchen has to be used by all, thus encouraging interaction around it. The same for all other common spaces (workspaces, living rooms, even laundry).
Cohousing generally has some shared facilities in the same way as coliving, it can however instead be identified as the long-term financial commitment from individual purchase within a collective project, and/or the layout as a mainly independent dwelling unit.
On the other hand coliving is most often rented, and provides a layout of private space comprising only a bedroom (maybe an ensuite bathroom), therefore does not overlap with cohousing on either count.
There are always exceptions, indeed use or even ownership of studios within coliving spaces are an example of a segment that could grow—blurring definitions.
Launching your own space?
In the spirit of openness and connection there's a community of operators ready to guide you in the right direction! Two associations organise regular meetings and knowledge shares: Co-Liv (perhaps more oriented towards residential) and Coliving Hub (maybe a little more oriented towards destinational), both have their own online communities, but there's also some more groups on Facebook: Coliving (users and operators; mostly homes), and Coliving Space Founders (mostly destinational), not to mention various country specific ones.
Styleguide for editors
The correct use of the term coliving is without a hyphen, the same as for coworking and as endorsed by publishers. Whilst the English language generally hyphenates compound words during their early use, as time passes they are dropped. However for the words coworking and coliving, their hyphenated use actually has different meanings!
Co-worker is not somebody sharing a coworking space, but a colleague; co-living is not unrelated people living in the same space, but a couple sharing their home. Thus when referring to the new concepts of coliving and coworking, use without a hyphen is obliged to avoid ambiguity.
This page is maintained by the Coliving Identity Working Group, have suggestions or feedback? email@example.com