Every time I visit a coliving space, there is one question that operators ask me: “what are you learning that I can use to improve the experience and concept of my own space?”
After talking to more than 50 coliving founders, I realized they all face the same struggle: how to grow their spaces while maintaining a strong community.
To make it simple, there are currently two major types of coliving spaces:
On one side you find small, grass-root coliving spaces, often created ground-up with the intention to build life-enhancing living places. On the other side are the larger operators, who start their activity with the objective to make coliving a sustainable and scalable business.
But there is a link missing between the two: there are very few that manage to create both a strong business out of it while maintaining the feeling of community and life-enhancing user experience for its residents.
As a former coliving operator with spaces in Barcelona, Tulum, and Bali, I realized first-hand the value of coliving. The very reason I decided to focus full-time on this topic was to witness the impact it had on people’s lives — how my residents experienced among others “the best month of their lives” and “found meaning in their life again”.
It therefore shaped my perception of coliving as a human-centered activity.
Coliving is not solely a real estate niche industry focused on easy access to property — it is a movement that has the potential to change people’s lives for the better, to give its residents a sense of belonging, to offer affordable housing, and to push individuals to new heights of personal and professional growth.
So I now ask myself: how can we create coliving spaces that can run long-term and ensure financial sustainability while offering a life-enhancing experience?
That is the question that I want to explore. And that is the reason why I’m currently going on a world tour to interview leading coliving founders, community managers, and operators to share best practices in a real estate industry that, at its core, is focussed on the human experience.
Launching: the Art of Coliving
My goal is clear: to bring out, in one single manual, a collection of success stories, inspirations, and operational best practices that coliving operators can apply to their own spaces.
To meet this end, I partnered up with Co-Liv, the leading coliving association (of which I recently became a board member) to travel across Europe and the States in search for the brave and thoughtful coliving operators that are changing the way we live.
The Art of Coliving will have two parts: one focused on user experience, and the other on growth. Combining those two aspects is my own attempt to bridge the gap of knowledge in the coliving industry and make coliving an intentional business activity.
In my opinion, only spaces that foster a strong feeling of community will strive in the long run. We’ve already seen it in the coworking sector: it doesn’t suffice to offer a gorgeous workplace to satisfy people’s needs.
Those that solely focus on transactional experiences and leave the human aspect out of their equation will eventually struggle with retention and reputation — because at the end of the day, the entire “co”-movement is based on the idea of community, collectivity, and collaboration, and is being judged by residents that are seeking those experiences.
It is for that very reason that I now attempt to push the industry towards its fullest human potential through this upcoming book.
Part One: User Experience
The first part of the book will focus on the activities of coliving spaces. It will cover the leading challenges that coliving spaces face in that aspect and how they are being overcome today.
Among others, this part is going to
- Identify the role and activities of community managers to help coliving spaces structure their organization and offer a life-enhancing user experience to their residents
- Analyze best practices in space design and architecture to offer residents a feeling of home, community, and individuality
- Explain the use of technology to facilitate operations and offer a smoother user experience
- Share best practices on how to allow individuality and the feeling of ownership to create more stickiness with customers
- Showcase success stories on how to involve the larger neighborhood community to position coliving as a social value creator
- And portray strategies to create feelings of connection, joy, and surprise to surpass residents’ expectations when moving in
Applying those techniques and processes will have the outcome of creating a service that users love, or rather, fall in love with. The benchmark for success will be that residents will become die-hard fans of that form of living and eventually incorporate it as part of their long-term lifestyle.
Part Two: Growth & Scalability
The second part of the book will focus on the structure of the business. Here, we will be tackling the macro picture and how to work on the business, not in the business. It will explore different ways to make coliving a sustainable financial activity and deal with the current limitations that the coliving industry is facing.
Among others, this part is going to
- Offer an overview of how to incorporate in leading countries to allow growth and scalability for coliving concepts in financially interesting markets
- Portray the full business model landscape of the industry to understand how coliving operators can improve their business models and make their spaces more financially sustainable
- Showcase success cooperation with government entities to help other operators craft relationships with the public sector and push towards regulations and permissions that support the movement.
- Share best practices on scalability within coliving companies to contribute to the growth of the “small” players while learning from the institutionally backed ones
- And explore techniques to reduce operational costs while maintaining the same level of user experience and space quality
The success metric of this part will be increased financial viability and opportunities to scale. It will allow coliving operators to grow their company more quickly and efficiently, allowing more options for residents to choose from and eventually growing the movement as a whole.
How to Contribute
This research project is made by and for the coliving industry. It wouldn’t exist without the brave ones who dare to challenge the current real estate market and the way we live in a more human and connected way.
For those who want to support, I’d love your help and contribution in the following ways:
- As a coliving operator: share your insights and get your operational best practices featured in the book
- As an industry supporter: take a supportive role as book sponsor and get accredited for your help
- As a coliving enthusiast: follow the journey on social media and share the initiative with your network
We created a form for you to get involved. Even if it’s just for getting the news about the book — let us notify you right here:
Estimated publishing date is December 2019. Stay tuned!
And some last words…
I want to thank everyone who is making this project possible.
Starting with Co-Liv who joined this project as publisher and facilitator, to Antonin and all the people who are involved in its creation, to the sponsors that are making this project and travels feasible, and all the coliving operators that already offered their time and insights to this project, and
And lastly, to everyone that is supporting this book and turning it into reality. Without you, this co-creation would not be possible.
About the Author: Gui Perdrix is the founder of Coliving Diaries, a coliving media platform, and Global Ambassador at Co-Liv, the largest coliving association. You can find him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
PS: I’ll also be organizing coliving meet-ups in major cities (check it out) and document my journey. You can follow it here.