Coworking + Housing: Exploring the World of Coliving

You’ve heard of coworking - but have you heard of coliving? In this article, we’ll share with you everything you need to know about this trend.
By Kelly K
May 5, 2023
People in a communal co-living house

A new way of living has emerged in recent years, one inspired by the community-driven villages of our past.

It’s called coliving, and it’s growing in popularity in major cities around the world.

The concept is simple, but the benefits can be profound. And as a distant cousin of coworking, it could be helpful for you to understand exactly how these co-living spaces work and how they go often hand-in-hand with coworking spaces.

In this article, we’ll explain to you everything you need to know about coliving including the benefits, the business model, and exactly what it has to do with coworking.

What is coliving?

Coworking + Housing, also known as coliving, is a housing arrangement where people from different households live in a single shared space. They have access to shared amenities and live in a communal way, contributing equally to maintaining the household. 

Unlike a roommate, inhabitants do not split rent payments. Rather, each person has an individual lease which is managed by the coliving space owner. Typically, owners own the entire property or community rather than a single unit. 

Here is what coliving looks like in practice:

  • An individual applies to be a part of a coliving space
  • If accepted, that individual is given a room in a fully furnished household (either apartment, townhome, or house) that is shared with other people they do not know
  • They all live together, contribute to rent independently, and put the effort into taking care of the home
  • Some coliving spaces may have cleaning services, amenities, or events that the individual can take part in

Many people think of coliving as an “adult dorm” due to its similarities to living in a dormitory in college or at camp. While this may be the case, many coliving spaces are sophisticated arrangements with a lot to offer.

Who is coliving for?

Coliving is most popular amongst people between the ages of 18 and 34. It’s a good option for people who are:

  • Looking to save on rent costs
  • Seeking a like-minded community
  • Living in a big city
  • New to the area and wanting to meet others in person

Living in a shared space tends to work best when people are young and looking to live, work, and play with other like-minded individuals. Due to the lack of personal privacy, most people see their coliving arrangements as temporary and stay for one to four years.

Why is coliving popular?

There are two key reasons why coliving is growing in popularity: the rising cost of rent and a desire for community.

High cost of rent

The rising cost of rent has left many individuals wondering how they can live comfortably within their means.

Coliving can be a great option for those who want an affordable living arrangement and don’t mind living with others, but don’t want to go through the hassle of finding a roommate.

In most coliving arrangements, you simply apply for housing and the owner or operator will place you somewhere with a group of people who share your same values and have similar lifestyles. The cost of doing so is less than if you were to live on your own, plus there’s the added bonus of not having to find a roommate…a win-win.

Desire for community

Coliving is great for those who are looking for a community

Much like coworking, the community is a major tenant of coliving. Many people seek out coliving arrangements specifically to be a part of a larger community.

Because of this, there is a great emphasis placed on respecting the space, valuing others, and contributing your fair share to maintain the household. These shared values, along with organized events put on by the community, makes coliving a wonderful option for those looking for their tribe.

Types of coliving

Coliving is a somewhat new and unofficial term. However, the idea of coliving has been around for a long time, under a variety of names. 

  • Shared housing: where an individual finds another person (usually on Carigslist or Facebook Marketplace) to live with. They split the cost of rent and all housing duties fall on them.
  • Co-op: where a corporation owns a building and rents it at-cost to its tenants. In turn, these “members” contribute to how the building is run including keeping the building safe, clean, and maintained.
  • Co-housing: a planned community of small, private homes with shared community buildings. This concept originated in Denmark, where it remains most popular.
  • Communes: a part of the counterculture movement, where individuals move to an isolated part of the world to become completely self-sustaining, growing their own food and support their own community.

The modern coliving arrangement tends to be something a bit more luxurious than the concepts described above. However, coliving still exists in many forms, and can come in a variety of different shapes and sizes.  

Benefits of coliving

Although living with a group of strangers may not be for everyone, many people get a lot of value out of coliving. 

Some of the benefits of coliving are:

  • Saving money on rent
  • Being a part of a community
  • Meeting new people
  • Feeling a sense of purpose

Many people who choose to live communally feel that it brings them a sense of purpose or fulfillment that they were missing otherwise. This is what makes it such an appealing option for those living or working in a new area, who are hoping to meet other people. 

Coliving drawbacks

Much of the drawbacks to coliving come down to personal preferences.

Some of these drawbacks include:

  • Limited personal space
  • Rules on how you can use the space or operate within it
  • Limited investment opportunity

As mentioned, this type of arrangement isn’t for everyone so it’s important to consider this closely before committing to living with others.

Similarities between coworking and coliving

So what exactly do coliving and coworking have to do with one another?

Think of coliving as a distant cousin to coworking. Both revolve around bringing people together in a shared space, and both have the community as a core value. 

The difference is that with coliving, the space people are sharing and contributing to is their home. In coworking, that space is an office or workspace.

Coworking and coliving together

In rural or destination coworking spaces, coliving may be offered on or near the coworking space to make it an “all-in-one” solution for busy travelers. Some coliving spaces may even have a coworking space built into the community.

The two concepts go hand-in-hand so that where you find one, you may find the other close by.

There are even some similarities between the coworking and coliving business models, which we will break down below.

Coliving business model

Coliving business model and operations

As a coworking operator, you may be wondering about the coliving business model. Much like coworking, the primary way coliving operators make their money is by selling space, although the business model is more similar to that of a hotel than a coworking space.

Consider the situation below.

  • A man buys an apartment building with 20 units
  • He can rent each unit out to one person for $2,000 a month
  • Or, he can rent each unit out to two people for $1,500 a month each
  • He can justify this higher cost by supplying furniture, internet, cable, cleaning services, and regular community events, as well as shortening the terms of the lease to month-to-month

Here, the coliving space owner or operator can make 50% more on rent alone by operating in a coliving arrangement, as opposed to a traditional renting agreement.

It’s important to note that operating a coliving space will typically come at a much higher cost than a coworking space. You will need to account for the cost of regular cleaning, internet services, upkeep to the building and landscaping, any damage that happens in the space, and so much more.

Although coworking spaces need to account for these too, in a coliving space, these costs are much higher.

Coliving…a passing fad or here to stay?

The modern coliving space promises its occupants a thriving community and a host of amenities taken care of for them already. But is it here to stay?

It’s likely that coliving will continue to exist, but its popularity is yet to be determined. If you’d like to learn more about coliving by checking out one of these coliving spaces.

Looking for a software to help you manage your co-living and coworking space? ? Explore all of the features of the Optix platform and book a call with our team today