You’ve been researching the digital nomad lifestyle and you’ve come across this combo of words – coliving.
Sure it sounds cool but what is coliving, really?!
We’ve been digital nomads since 2018 and we believe coliving is one of the best ways (if not the best) to live + travel as a digital nomad. Every time we visit a new digital nomad destination or hotspot – we don’t run to Airbnb! We actually research for coliving spaces in the digital nomad cities we want to visit first.
We’ve stayed in our fair share of coliving spaces over the years and we can tell what makes one amazing and others not so amazing. There are so many benefits to joining a coliving space but it can be a hit and miss at times.
If you’ve never heard of the phrase ‘coliving’ or you’re just discovering the digital nomad lifestyle – you’re in the right place.
In this blog post, I’m going to define exactly what is coliving, who it’s for and why you should (or shouldn’t) join one.
QUICK ANSWER: What Is Coliving?
Summary: Coliving is the term to describe a group of like-minded people coming together in a communal space (house, apartment, complex) where everyone works, lives and explores together. Most coliving spaces offer:
- fully-furnished private bedroom or studio
- private bathroom
- basic household essentials
- shared coworking space
- social events, workshops or masterclasses
- reliable wifi connection
- utilities included
- community of like-minded people
- free weekly cleaning services
Digital nomads are the main target audience for coliving spaces as they travel the world and work remotely from anywhere. Since the boom of the digital nomad movement in 2021, there are more coliving spaces popping up in cities like Medellin, Bali and Spain.
What Is Coliving – Everything You Need To Know
Coliving has been around for a while but it’s become much more popular as people have taken up the digital nomad lifestyle.
Digital nomads enjoy staying in coliving spaces because it gives them a great work-life balance. You get to live with a bunch of like-minded people who you can learn from and do life with, plus you get access to a workspace.
Coliving combines the 3 things digital nomads look for:
- a good community of like-minded people
- a space to get your work done
- a comfortable house/apartment to live in
What more could you ask for? As digital nomads who move around constantly, it’s an amazing offer when you can have all of that as soon as you arrive at a new destination! Let me tell you…it’s not always easy to find a group of friends in a foreign city and/or a comfortable place to live in a good location.
But coliving isn’t for everyone. It might take some getting used to because it’s just a completely different way to live.
There really isn’t one way to define a coliving space but we are going to do our best to define it, who it’s for, how you can join one and why it doesn’t work for everyone.
How Does Coliving Work?
Coliving is pretty simple. It works just like you would book an Airbnb or hotel with a few minor differences.
You won’t find most coliving spaces on Airbnb or any booking platforms. They usually have their own independent site that you’ll need to Google and you can message them via email or social media to get in contact. Joining a coliving space may require more work to find, research and book. But it’s all worth the effort, trust us!
Once you’ve booked for usually at least a month, you’ll be welcomed into your new home and your new family. You’ll likely move into a private 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment or studio. You get access to all the amenities on the property like a pool, barbecue, rooftop, coworking space and cafe, for example.
There are usually weekly activities where you can join, mingle and make some new friends. You’ll also meet friends at the coworking space too!
What Defines A Coliving Space?
Coliving is very easy to define because there are usually specific things they need to have to be a ‘coliving space’ in the minds of digital nomads.
As there isn’t a proper definition and lots of spaces don’t all adhere to the same idea – here’s what we and our fellow digital nomad friends would expect from a coliving space:
- Weekly/Monthly Rental: Most coliving spaces will only offer a minimum stay of 2 weeks to 1 month. Why? A big reason to do coliving is to have a solid community – that’s a little hard if everyone leaves every couple of days.
- Coworking Space Included: From what we’ve experienced, coliving spaces always provided a place to work. It didn’t have to always be a full-out coworking space rather it could be a dedicated space with a couple of desks where you can get some peace and quiet.
- Amenities/Utilities Included: Like Airbnb rentals, coliving spaces usually don’t charge extra to use the facilities on the property or make you pay for any utilities.
- Social Events Organized For You: Lots of coliving spaces will organize a social event, workshop or masterclass for its members – some may be free or paid. This makes it easier for you to meet new people and do different activities.
A good coliving space will have all of these criteria included in your one price.
There are a lot of shared housing that are starting to use the term ‘coliving’ but offer almost none of the above. That’s why it’s important to watch for these things before booking! You might just end up in a shared housing space without the actual benefits of coliving.
Who Is A Good Fit For Coliving?
Coliving will not suit everyone and that’s okay! It’s made for a specific type of traveler that needs very specific needs. While you can usually join even if you don’t fit the ‘usual’ type of members, here’s the kind of people that you’ll find in a coliving space:
- Digital nomads
- Remote workers
- Solo travelers
- Couple travelers
- Fresh college graduates looking for inspiration
- Professionals (usually a little older) wanting a fresh start
- Location independent entrepreneur
- Perpetual travelers
All of these people would thrive in a coliving environment. Why? They all have common goals, share similar values and all probably love travel! They also need a space to get their 9-5 work done, focus on building their new online business or just need a good community of people around them.
Now that you know what is coliving and who is a good fit – you might be wondering, who wouldn’t be a good fit for a coliving space? Here are some people that might not enjoy coliving:
- Students on their gap year (with no work to do)
- Travelers on holiday or vacation
- People looking to stay only a few nights
They might not like coliving because it might be too serious for them (in the work aspect) and not enough fun for them. It really doesn’t suit people that only want to stay a few days because it’s hard to truly get into the community the coliving spaces are building.
Why Are Coliving Spaces Popping Up Everywhere?
According to the latest digital nomad statistics, the movement for remote work + location independence + digital nomadism has grown significantly since the pandemic. Working from home opened people’s eyes to the opportunity of working remotely from anywhere in the world.
These location independent people that work online need a space to live and gain an awesome community of like-minded people. Enter coliving spaces!
Coliving spaces cater to this exact audience and with the boom, there are more and more people looking into staying at coliving spaces. Naturally, they are going to start popping up everywhere in the world.
Coliving vs Coworking – What’s The Difference?
Now you know what is coliving, there’s another term you should be familiar with if you’ve researched the digital nomad lifestyle before and that is…
There’s a big difference between coliving and coworking. The main one is probably that you can’t live at a coworking space (unless it’s open 24/7 then we’ve seen people spend the night several times lol don’t recommend).
A coworking space is a dedicated place where digital nomads, remote workers and/or location independent entrepreneurs can work. With a coworking membership, you get access to a hot desk, amenities such as free coffee, water, tea, etc and events, workshops or masterclasses they organize.
A coliving space usually has a coworking space included as part of their facilities. You can use it as you please and it’s another easy way to meet people that live in the coliving space.
Is Coliving Basically A Hostel?
A lot of people confuse coliving with hostels…
…and they couldn’t be more different!
I just had to say that before we begin as people associate a shared space with a hostel which makes sense. Hostels are mainly for backpackers on a word trip or students doing a gap year. Whichever it may be, it’s a great way to travel cheaply and for an extended period of time.
The reason hostels are so cheap is because you have to share everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. When living in a hostel, you share:
- your room
- your closet
- your bathroom
- your shower
- your kitchen
and all the in-between! Most people stay in dorm-like rooms with up to 20+ bunk beds and this is fine if you are tight on a budget without needing to get some consistent sleep. Again, there’s nothing wrong with hostels but it might not be the best way for digital nomads to live full-time.
Digital nomads have responsibilities to keep working online – having a comfortable place to lay your head is pretty important. Most coliving spaces are created with digital nomads in mind – this means you have a private spaces like a bedroom and bathroom, a co-working space to get work done and a community of fellow digital nomads!
How Much Does Coliving Typically Cost?
It depends where the coliving is located!
When it’s in a more affordable country, you can expect it to be less. When it’s in a more affluent country, it’s going to cost much more which makes sense. That’s how it normally works with Airbnbs too.
Here is roughly what the coliving spaces we’ve looked at cost:
🇮🇩 Bali, Indonesia: $560 USD
🇵🇹 Lisbon, Portugal: $1,225 USD
🇨🇴 Medellin, Colombia: $600-$800 USD
🇲🇽 San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico: $630 USD
Hopefully, that gives you a better idea of what they can cost. We think it’s more affordable to do coliving than the Airbnb + coworking combo. Coworking spaces in Europe especially cost so much – around $200-$300 per month. If you take a coliving space, it already includes coworking which is why we went with coliving in Lisbon over booking an Airbnb ourselves plus finding a coworking space.
What Is Coliving – The Benefits & Disadvantages of Living Together
Considering staying in a coliving space? Here are some reasons why you should choose coliving over an Airbnb, a hotel or a hostel and some disadvantages of why you shouldn’t colive.
5x Benefits Of A Coliving Space
Coliving spaces offer a unique experience where you live with others who share similar interests and goals. It’s like having roommates without all the hassle of living together!
1. Community 👯♀️
The best thing about coliving is the solid digital nomad communities you encounter! The chances are pretty high that you’ll meet fellow digital nomads who are on the road, working remotely just like you.
When you land in a new country, coliving allows you to make friends instantly. You won’t have to worry about doing things alone or going out alone. There’s usually someone down to do things with you!
Coliving spaces sometimes vet their members. This makes you feel more at ease that the people living there have common goals and responsibilities.
Are the friendships temporary? In our experience, no! We have made life-long friends through coliving spaces and it’s a great place to cultivate real friendships. If you know us well, you’ll know one of our close friends Dom. We met Dom at our Bali coliving space and we have seen each other at least twice a year, every year since we met. He also became Matt’s groomsmen at our wedding!
A coliving space is comprised of a much more intentional community, that’s for sure.
2. Coworking 👩🏻💻
Need a quiet place to focus on your work? Most coliving spaces offer a hot desk seat at a coworking, included in your price.
We enjoy coworking spaces because it gives us that separation between life and work. They usually have very nice desks and ergonomic chairs which make working so much more comfortable. With coliving spaces, you can usually be confident there’s a reliable and comfortable space to work.
This way you don’t have to rely on your Airbnb to have a ‘dedicated workspace’ as they like to claim.
Check out our posts about coworking around the world here.
3. Privacy 🔐
When compared to hostels, coliving spaces give you much more privacy. With a hostel, you might stay in a dorm room which is difficult if you like your personal space. With a coliving, you usually get a private bedroom and bathroom giving you that peace and quiet you need at times!
You don’t always need to socialize in a coliving space which is great! You can escape to your bedroom when you need some solitude or time to veg out and watch Netflix. We’ve stayed in coliving spaces where all the rooms were studios which meant we even had our own tiny kitchen that we didn’t need to share. We found this to be rare but possible! Otherwise, you’ll usually share common spaces like the kitchen, laundry and coworking space.
4. All-In-One Space ⚡️
Everything is usually within the same compound and if it’s not, it’s within 5 minutes of walking. For example, our coliving in Bali was one entire building with 40+ rooms, a coworking space, cafe and pool located on the ground floor and a rooftop terrace and small gym located at the top level. If we wanted, we never really had to leave the building.
As for our coliving space in Lisbon, everything was within 5 minutes walking. The coworking space is in a different building but across the street, if that makes sense!
5. Affordable 💸
As it’s an all-in-one space, we find it’s a pretty affordable housing option to stay at a coliving space. Especially if you need to combine an Airbnb fee + a coworking space fee, we’ve if you’re doing coworking you might as well pay a little more and get the coliving space instead.
The average price for a coliving space can be anywhere between $600 – $1,000 for a month which is very affordable living costs considering everything you get included in the price.
2x Disadvantages Of A Coliving Space
Coliving isn’t all rainbows and butterflies – there are some downsides to it too. Here are some things that might annoy you about a coliving space:
1. Location 🗺
This could be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on your preference. A lot of coliving spaces are either smack-dab right in the city center and some are in rural, remote areas.
It’s hard to find spaces that have a good balance of location. You want to be close enough to the city center for all the action but you also don’t want to be too far from the city that wifi could be an issue, you know what I mean?
2. Group Environment 🏘
Again, this is a personal preference thing! If you love being in a group setting for most of the things you do – you’ll love coliving. However, if you want to be super independent you might feel like you can’t be when you’re staying at a coliving. Obviously, you’re free to do whatever you want but the mindset in a coliving space can be doing some activities together.
If you don’t like group environments, it might be a better idea for you to stay at an Airbnb where you get your own space. You can easily go to weekly digital nomad meetups (if they exist where you are) to make some friends and meet people instead.
Our Favorite Coliving Spaces Around The World
Looking for some coliving options around the world? Here are the places we have stayed and/or where our fellow digital nomad friends have raved on about:
I could go on and on but that’s a whole other blog post! If you are curious about the coliving scene in Medellin, we’ve got a fully guide on coliving in Medellin. Let us know below if you have any favorite coliving spaces we haven’t mentioned.
You Know What Is Coliving, But Is It A Good Idea?
As a digital nomad, we think it’s the best way to live, work and play with like-minded people. Life on the road can get pretty lonely and community becomes more important the longer you’ve traveled, at least in our experience.
Coliving brings all the things we love about this digital nomad lifestyle together – affordable living, intentional community, private co-living apartments and a vibrant social calendar you can (or don’t have to) participate in.
We love coliving but it’s not for everyone. What are your thoughts on it? Comment below and let us know!