3 Unbelievably Simple Steps to Starting Your Own Co-Living House Spending Less Than $10

Co-living spaces are the future of Co-Working. Providing location independent people with communal living accommodation. Some people even believe co-living will become mainstream across cities worldwide, with potentially even families living in specialised Co-Living communities.

Many people across the world are currently looking to jump into this hot niche and start their own Co-Living community.

Normally starting a business requires making a plan, building the product and then trying to sell it. In lean startup methodology, you try to sell the concept before you have made the finished product.

The good news is, building your own Co-Living community using lean startup methodology is possible with less than $10 of investment. You should focus your efforts on the 20% of things that create 80% of the returns. Then iterate based on what is working.

In the case of Co-Living the 20% of actions that lead to 80% of the results are building your concept, team and trying to get an audience interested in your community and willing to book your first ‘popup’ Co-Living retreat.

Joe Sharp Co-Founder of Co-Work Surf in Sagres, shares his advice on using the methodology he learned from corporate life teamed with a surfing lifestyle.

“Initially don’t worry about the logistics of it. If you have a space already, that’s great but if not don’t get stuck, by worrying exactly where you’re going to set up or buy. Take the smallest thing you can do to take your idea to the next step and validate your concept, without risking capital or too much time.”

Reality check

This is a low capital approach but like anything in life there is always a time and skills acquisition cost involved. So partnering up with people who can get behind your vision can be helpful. Usually digital nomads have 1 or 2 of the skills necessary themselves to start something like this so finding a co-founder or team with complementary skill sets can really help. The process will throw up some unexpected barriers but through careful thought and a creative approach you should know which ones to tackle and which ones you can just avoid entirely.

1. Decide on the vision and the concept ($0)

Set your goals, what you want to get out of your Co-Living house, what have you heard other people talking about that aligns with your interests and vision? The best way is to think about the kind of vibe and community that you would like to surround yourself with as it’s going to be an extension of your lifestyle, to allow you to do the things you do anyway, just with other interesting people.

The concept will be highly dependent on the type of people you are trying to attract. For example if your target clientele are software developers, lot’s of coffee, strong internet connection and probably free use of large screen monitors, would be attractive. Whereas, for a surfers Co-Living house, use of surf boards, outside space, a BBQ and hammocks are probably more enticing.

Therefore the first step is defining the concept. Who is the target clientele? Then, brainstorm what would really appeal to this market.

2. Validate the concept (~$10)

This is where you put your ideas to the test and establish if there is actually a market for your concept. Testing if your concept has real business potential.

There are countless ways you could do this.

For Co-Work Surf, Joe validated the concept with a simple video that he pushed on his personal Facebook group and a few Digital Nomad Facebook Groups.

This video is how Joe Sharp and Nick Mattia from CoWork Surf validated their idea.

Depending on how technical you are you could create a landing page with details of your Co-living concept and post this out in relevant places to see if there is demand.

I have allowed a $10 budget for this section to pay for a landing page platform like Weebly or Squarespace. Or potentially for running a small scope targeted FB ads campaign.

Using Facebook Groups like this one could also help you to validate your concept very easily and without spending money.

Obviously you could spend a lot more money validating the concept. But with some basic technical skills and a bit of creativity you could validate your concept with effectively no money.

Whilst most of the validation section should be focused on generating interest from potential signups and getting them to actually sign up to an email list or even putting their money where their mouth is. There is also room to do some market research to understand your market even better.

Joe has shared some of the market research he did for Co-Work Surf. After interviewing people working Co-Working spaces in Bali. Joe says the number one priority that kept recurring for a Co-Working or Co-Living space is having a quality community. Those not interested in the community aspect will arrange there own Airbnb or rental options usually anyway. He also captured the survey results below.

So the key learnings here is to test your concept thoroughly by trying to get actual customers to make bookings or at least sign up to your mailing list to be updated about your concept.

3. Organise the logistics — Just do it ($0)

Now you have some bookings or at least solid interest from clients. It’s time to organise the logistics.

Depending on your area, this could be as simple as finding a house on Airbnb renting it for the month or even a week or a few days if you really want to keep risk low and hosting your first ‘popup’ Co-Living retreat there.

With Co-Work Surf, Joe says they were lucky enough to find a villa, which the owner would rent for them for just two months, so they could test how their concept worked in practice.

One of the biggest focuses for this first month should be on building solid community spirit. Providing group meals is usually one of the best ways to do this and so is offering some free stays for a week or two to people who are passionate about helping out

Throughout this process, you should collect feedback from your clients to help you in the future. A simple way to do this is with a + and — board and some post it notes.

From here use this feedback and follow an iterative process of improvement and refinement.

Final words

Depending on how the ‘popup’ Co-living retreat went, you will know whether you want to go forward and make this into a real business. If you do, then you can look into a long-term lease, purchase or getting investment. With the confidence that your concept has a sound business proposition.

Some extensions for your business could be team retreats or a franchise model if you really feel that the rest of the world needs more of what you’ve created.

To prove this approach works We’re going to organise a retreat in the exact same way. If we get enough interest we’ll book a place. Join us in Lisbon to start your Co-Living concept in just 7 days. Our Co-Living Mastermind Retreat, will host several sharing economy experts that will help you get your space up and running in just 7 days. Register your interest here.