The closest to coliving I did in my adult life was when I tested the teaching waters in Vietnam and became a volunteer teacher for three months in Hanoi back in March-May 2017. I found this opportunity on Workaway, a famous website for cultural exchange and volunteering programs in many countries. In return for my teaching hours, I got a free bed in a four-bed room and food. Most of my “flatmates” came from different walks of life and different countries. While I didn’t like the idea of sharing bedrooms with others, that experience was something for the books. But this is so far from coliving around Europe, I learned from Dorothee—a graphic designer and Youtuber who has significant experience coliving in Europe. Learn her story. And say hi to her on her YouTube and Instagram.
I always loved to travel and realised quite early on that the time of a vacation is not sufficient for me to explore a place. I’m not into visiting touristy places and discovering things in a city or place within a short time frame, I love to just start living in a place and see how it feels and what I can learn.
So when I thought about how to integrate this into my life, the digital nomad idea became intriguing, because it would allow me to stay longer in one place and it became a part of my decision to be self-employed (I did that before the pandemic hit and remote working was just imaginable as a freelancer – today that already changed and you can be a remote worker as employee, too).
Coliving is an opportunity to live the nomading lifestyle with being less lonely. I have always lived in shared flats and enjoyed the company of different people. And when I did some reading about the pros and cons of nomading lifestyle, loneliness was one of the biggest cons. So it was very clear to me that I want to live in places where I can meet people with a similar mindset and share my experiences with them even if its strangers!
Some places are very anonymous because either companies or people rent out airbnbs and label them as Colivings – there’s no community concept behind it. And there’s places where people put a lot of effort into creating spaces to connect people and are also taking care of the places personally – that was the places I was looking for—Dorothee
My first Coliving space was Sunago in Ericeira, Portugal, and I loved it there (Shoutout to Samara and David, they did an amazing job rebuilding this house!). I went there in March 2022 and after living in Austria – a landlocked country – working at the sea was eye opening.
Suddenly nature was around me and I had a big inspirational playground for my videos, illustrations and designs. Moreover due to a coincidence during that month we where mostly women in the house and I had beautiful connections to these people with meaningful conversations and shared adventures.
The main factor for the decision of staying in a Coliving was my profession: I work as an illustrator for environmental topics and am currently working on a project of combining field trips and making illustrations about the natural processes I see. So it had to be a geographically interesting landscape and cities were not an option for that. The next point was of course the pricing.
Some Colivings can be quite pricy and I would say often times it’s more expensive than living in a permanent flat. But some had breakfast or yoga included and often times there’s even cleaning so you so you can focus on working.
Another big factor is that I wanted a Coliving that is run by a real host. Let me explain that: Some places are very anonymous because either companies or people rent out airbnbs and label them as Colivings – there’s no community concept behind it. And there’s places where people put a lot of effort into creating spaces to connect people and are also taking care of the places personally – that was the places I was looking for!
The main factor for the decision of staying in a Coliving was my profession: I work as an illustrator for environmental topics and am currently working on a project of combining field trips and making illustrations about the natural processes—Dorothee
In Vienna, I’m part of an artist studio, so I was already used to work in a communal space with other self-employed people. While I was used to coworkers working in the creative field, my colivers worked in different areas that I was never in contact before. I met software engineers, online marketers, writers and all kind of other professions I could learn from and be inspired.
Honestly: not so different from what I did at home! I was able to maintain a pretty good morning routine out of coffee drinking, journaling a bit and doing some yoga (even outside in many colivings), then I’d start working in the Coworking space of the office had lunch, worked a bit more in the afternoon and in the evening I tried to get outside, did some activity with my colivers or just chilled.
I guess its about what you make out of it, I was very happy I had people around me who wanted to concentrate on their work on projects as well so I enjoyed the productive atmosphere and the possibility to be out in the nature in the evening.
I’ve been in different colivings in Europe from Tenerife to Lofoten and of course the cultural influence of the country is recognisable in a Coliving. I enjoyed this a lot because it gave me the feeling to experience a daily life in these cultures.—Dorothee
Absolutely! Of course you have to be realistic, you have a very close relationship with the people for a certain amount of time and then will be apart again. But I met some people in other colivings again (so we became flatmates without a flat ;)) and I’m still frequently in contact with other people who shared hobbies or passions and of course you’ll have to put some effort in meeting again, but I’m sure that will happen!
I tried to stick to traditional working hours. It helped quite a lot that many of my colivers where employed and had the traditional working hours, so I didn’t have much trouble to just go with the flow and work at the same hours. I would even rather say that I tend to work too much when working remotely, because I have less fear of missing out than at my home base – but everybody is different!
Oh absolutely! I’ve been in different Colivings in Europe from Tenerife to Lofoten and of course the cultural influence of the country is recognisable in a Coliving. I enjoyed this a lot because it gave me the feeling to experience a daily life in these cultures.
While I basically lived of mojo picon and patatas bravas in Spain, I realised that Norway had an insane choice of taco products in their supermarkets – so you have surprises everywhere! On the other side it’s of course the people are homogenised because we nomads make the culture of a coliving and nomads are quite similar to each other because of their mindsets.
First of all of course how it is accessible, then if I like the space and the house and if it’s likely to be a real community. Of course internet and working space have to be included. For houses, I do value enough light and of course cleanliness.
Of course things like breakfast and yoga are amazing, but I personally realised I don’t necessarily need that and also value a community of colivers that organised activities like this on their own.
As many different cultures and people come together in one place, there might be conflicts once in a while. But honestly, most of them are about cleaning the kitchen or being a bit loud in the morning or evening – problems that I experienced exactly the same in shared flats or in our studio in Vienna.
I personally try to stay patient and not to be triggered by small things. If a real problem comes up its important to address the person openly and calm and reach out for a mediator when you’re not feeling safe. I didn’t experience bigger issues, but I think some hose rules about Colivings being safe and tolerant place for anyone are highly recommended!
I’ve only been pomading for a year, so I can’t really say anything about trends yet. But I think that the community will grow and I hope that more great Colivings will open to make it possible to get to know different communities and cultures while working remotely.
Book a week longer than you’d think you want to stay – in the end it was always hard to leave for me and I wished that I could stay a bit more.
Oh my, I don’t think I’m a good example because my private life and my work are extremely close. But it wasn’t always like this, so I’d recommend traditional working hours and actually maybe even recording the time, no mails on the phone and going to the working place to work so you have a spatial separation between your private time and your work time.
Currently I’m back in Vienna, because I bought an old Land Cruiser in Spain (with the amazing help of my Coliving there) and am restoring it for a cross-continental overlanding trip by car which might take me a couple of years. As I’m planning to make illustrations and videos for my little community on Instagram and YouTube on this trip, I’ll definitely stay at Colivings whenever possible to work and to enjoy the company of fellow nomads. I already miss the community a lot!