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Coliving: for 3 months or for 3 years?

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

When Swiss Escape opened its doors in 2016 there were almost no other coliving spaces around to talk of. Six years later, colivings are popping up a little bit everywhere. Or so it feels.

When you live, sleep and breath coliving, you sometimes forget it is still a rather niche concept and we are getting more and more questions around what coliving is, exactly.

Definitions of coliving are all over the internet but as the industry grows we feel what becomes important is to start segmenting (for visibility, clarity and residents expectations purposes).

We currently observe two main segments leading the industry (and a bonus newbie at the end).

Destination Coliving

USP: Beyond Community of course, destination is the unique selling point of these spaces (hence the name).

Residents: These spaces market themselves, and consequently attract, digital nomads, freelancers and entrepreneurs. People who can work from anywhere and usually on their own, who are looking for a sense of community and share a passion for traveling and exploring new places.

Size: The spaces usually have up to 20 bedrooms with communities between 10 and 25 residents at once. Length of stay: The average stay is around 1 month. The minimum stay usually starts from 1 week and goes up to 3-4 months. Events & activities: The fact that people stay for a definite period of time creates a slight 'sense of urgency'. The team running the space has to facilitate a feeling of community with the added challenge that people come and go on a regular basis. That prompts them to organize many regular events to tighten bounds quicker. That is why we usually find more weekly and recurring activities in destination colivings than in residential ones. (Monday barbecue, Wednesday wine tasting, Friday skill share, Sunday brunch every week).

A few words on the Community: We notice that the word of mouth is really strong among digital nomads and that small communities form within the larger digital nomad community worldwide. People who met in one space and click, often wish to meet again and somehow follow each other to the next coliving space and back again, somehow creating a kind of Digital Nomad Grand Tour.

Residential Coliving

USP: Beyond community of course, affordability as well as access to space and amenities you would not be able to afford on your own, is the main selling point of residential colivings. In addition to the traditional bedroom and coworking space, they often include gyms, lounge areas, movie rooms, outdoor spaces etc. Residents: Residential colivings are mostly located in urban areas where their residents are a mix of locals and expats. We also see coliving for students a common phenomenon in this segment.

Size: Their size vary a lot depending on the set up and operator but they often are home to between 30 and 150+ people. Length of stay: As it attracts people with jobs or some kind of roots in the city, people normally stay a minimum of 6 months, up to several years. Events & Activities: Even if many residential operators still have community events calendar, residential colivings with the most organic communities tend to see more unplanned and spontaneous events, based on the residents needs and a will to engage at a particular time. As people stay longer there is less of a need to fit a lot within a week and events can be more spread out. Finally, because people live together for a long period, the type of events and activities you would see in a family setting start to rhythm the year (birthdays, Christmas, easter, weddings...).

A few words on the Community: Being more sedentary, residents have the opportunity to create very deep bonds with each other that will usually last beyond moving out of the space. Because of the length of stay, conflicts and challenges around decision making might arise more frequently than in destination coliving.

Hybrid hotel coliving

A woman having breakfast in bed in her hotel room

As we write these words we cannot ignore this new emerging segment in the industry. These spaces welcome everyone from really short stay (tourists in town for a night or two) to medium (nomads) and long stay (expats). It is definitely an intriguing concept that we need to keep an eye on. For us the main question that arises is: what kind of community will such space develop? We cannot wait to find out and keep on learning!


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