We’ve discussed co-working places as a vital part of a digital nomad’s lifestyle. Today, we are going to examine the concept of coliving spaces, which obviously demands more involvement and commitment compared to merely sharing a location with other digital nomads for a couple of hours.
As with most things revolving around the digital nomad lifestyle, co-living requires a lot of thinking and weighing of advantages and liabilities before fully committing to it. It’s perfectly fine to doubt if this is the next logical step for you. However, it’s good to know that there is a predicted 40% of employed people who will likely be working remotely by the year 2020. Co-living digital nomads would probably make up a considerable percentage of them.
So you see, you aren’t alone in this endeavor. But to help prepare you for the possibility of being in a co-living situation with other digital nomads, consider these five practical tips first.
Determine if it’s really for you
So many factors can influence the decision to share a working and living space with someone long-term. It is a unique situation that could require constant adjustment. For example, you might be introverted, but you likely will have to interact with other people at some point during your stay (which could turn out to not be your particular cup of tea). On the other hand, if you are the outgoing, extroverted type, being part of a community of remote workers might just prove to be exhilarating for you.
Sit back and ruminate on the concept of shared living before making up your mind. Take as long as you can, and rest assured that there is likely a tailor-made coliving situation for your particular needs and wants at the end of the day (more on this in a bit).
Study the pros and cons carefully
Coworking and coliving have both disadvantages and benefits. It’s wise to know most (if not all) of them before deciding to embark on a co-living situation. Based on experience, the main pros of being in a co-living space include the camaraderie, the absence of commute and traffic-related situations, a flexible schedule, and being inspired by other digital nomads to become more productive. At least, those were the biggest reasons for me to even consider it and why I managed to complete my contract for shared living and working spaces in the past.
On the other hand, coliving spaces can also bring about some pretty vexing situations. Privacy and personal issues could be violated. For instance, in one of my previous shared living situations, we had a big house all to ourselves with each participating remote worker having their own private room. However, the kitchen, living area, and the bathrooms all had to be shared. And because there were some of us with hygiene and orderliness issues, there were admittedly some disgruntled feelings and arguments thrown in the mix, as well.
Map out your short and long term personal plans
When I first tried out a coliving arrangement, there were not many spaces dedicated solely for it yet. So what some of my freelancer and remote working friends did was to rent a house for a year. We agreed to divide the rent, Internet, and utility bills among us while using the house as a coworking space. We decided to try it out for a year because most of us had contracts that were either done after twelve months or needed to be renewed annually. Because I couldn’t see myself staying in one place for too long surrounded by the same people, I decided to pack my bags and say goodbye to my roomies after the first year was done.
Based on your personal values and how you see your career in the next couple of years, you will have to consider the kind of coworking and shared living situation you’re willing to take on. This means mapping out both short term and long term plans with every critical personal and professional issue considered.
Know where to look
Search engines like Google are your friends when it comes to choosing the ideal co-living situation. I found a good place in Thailand which was just a short distance away from the street food hawkers and stalls just by typing a few select keywords. There is one I frequent in London, as well, which is set up like an elegant inn complete with amenities and conveniences. To give you an idea where to look, I made a list of ten of the best cities all over the world that’s digital nomad-friendly, and they meet most of the requirements I have for co-working and co-living with others.
Consider alternative coliving spaces
If you think physically (and emotionally, psychologically, and even spiritually) sharing a space for long-term with other people isn’t for you (or at least not yet), consider the alternatives. I already made a full article on the five best work and travel programs to try today, so that’s an excellent place to start. This option is best for those who want to give their digital nomad careers a boost by way of networking with professionals in an idyllic, recreational setting (without committing to a full year of shared living). There are also camps and retreats for digital nomads where mornings are spent working, and evenings are for socializing and mingling with others. And, as I previously mentioned, you can always opt to participate in a rooming situation with other flatmates you are comfortable being around, just as long as ground rules are laid and followed.
Jumping into a co-living situation without some prior self-examination is a dangerous thing to do. It’s a lot like getting assigned a dorm room in college and being forced to live with rowdy, uncouth roomies for the rest of the term (or worse, for the duration of your college stay). The difference, though, is that you have a choice to get into it, as opposed to being dealt with some seemingly random lottery ticket for people you need to spend a lot of time with (and not having much of a say in it).