living spaces🏡 for people
valuing openness and collaboration🤝
Coliving takes many forms, from commercial serviced accommodations with restaurants, all the way to grassroots community houses sharing potluck dinners.
Every coliving space has its own character, yet share fundamental principles and benefits:
1️⃣ bringing us together inclusively to facilitate exchanges through proximity with each other
2️⃣ improving our quality of life through shared facilities with reduced impacts and costs
Some have an official community manager, whilst in others everyone participates. Whether just for a weekly meal, or with more elaborate programmes and events from accountability standups to laundry discos…
The uses of coliving spaces can span far beyond being a mere home, even whilst welcoming us as one, to include work, wellbeing and impact. So we refer to them rather generically as living spaces for their flexibility, and multi-purpose potential. 🤩
What are some types of coliving spaces?
- coliving homes
Also known as residential coliving, these are most often houses within metros and commuter belts, preserving and creating great common spaces for interactions. Frequently used by professionals renting long-term. (Note that some spaces have minimum rental contracts of a year, so lack flexibility.)
- coliving retreats
Also known as destinational coliving, generally in desirable holiday and escape destinations, and again often being typical houses with a mix of rooms. Most often used by digital nomads, and city residents escaping on workations for a few weeks or longer. (These also exist as popup spaces e.g. repurposing a villa for their duration.)
- coliving complexes
Differentiated from homes as large-scale spaces with multiple common facilities, maybe even serviced spaces such as a restaurant, public-access coworking… Obviously the larger a space is, the less proximity there may be with others, thus social groups may organise around floors or apartments, less than the whole complex's wider community, yet can still gather and bump into each other.
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 simply advertising their property as coliving but unable to describe how they facilitate interaction or whom their community is, most certainly is not. 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's most likely a bit of a clique no?
Is coliving intentional?
There are certainly similarities between coliving and intentional communities in that both bring like-minded people together, a distinction is worth considering: with intention every member is attracted to and follows a similar approach to life based around what they seek to do; more often with coliving each is driven by their own independent purpose, thus amongst a more diverse group a commonality of why emerges.
As a result of the differing approach, intentional communities (including cohousing) tend to have long-term involvements, whilst coliving is typically more flexible.
By way of example, one will often find intentional communities focussed on something specific such as low-impact lifestyles, or shared beliefs — as the 'what' of intention. Whilst the 'why' of purpose often brings people together because they've noticed their lives lack effect, so seek to learn from other's activities; not yet knowing what might fit them, or simply preferring diversity. Both community orientations engage and benefit from all their members, and yet approaches can blend, thus all should be considered unique.
What about 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 maintain it.
In a houseshare it is very common for some housemates to not participate, everyone is really just there for accommodation. Nonetheless this does also happen in coliving spaces, yet let's not overlook that we all need 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. Failing this, and in the same manner as an intentional community, such members will be excluded and evicted. Yet coliving is flexible so if one finds oneself not fitting so well within a specific community, we must all have an easy way out. Giving each other some opportunity to try is essential to our openness.
Is there some 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 always 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—unhelpfully blurring definitions.
Some operational variations:
- lifestyle business
Typical for retreat spaces but quite uncommon in homes except the more intentional, their hands-on founders enjoy sharing the journey of building community.
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.
- coliving hub
These orient themselves around a significant dedicated workspace within the same property. No need to commute! Of you can always work from your room in most any space, yet collaboration and camaraderie are multiplied with a shared workspace, and especially if the coworking is open to locals too.
- coliving co-op
This is a legal and structural distinction. As with a housing co-operative, they are owned by and operated for the benefit of their members. They may be organised around rental members, and/or owners, however equity ownership arrangements vary.
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 together. 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? firstname.lastname@example.org