I am part of the German speaking online entrepreneur community Citizen Circle. This is a wonderful community if you are interested in meeting like-minded people about new work, financial freedom, and innovative business ideas. And a bunch of people of said community are interested in the topic of coliving and coworking.
Fair enough, there are many people of this community who are working location independently and have hence the chance to wonder about where, how and with whom they would prefer to live.
HOW WE GOT TOGETHER IN THE FIRST PLACE
Since traveling was different this year than all the years before, regions such as South-East Asia or Latin America were not available without further ado. Those are the places that are normally the preferred destinations of the location independent workers of the northern hemisphere when winter time is rolling in. But yeah, there was no “normally” in 2020.
That said, I happened to be part of a coliving experiment in southern Portugal with a bunch of people that I only knew from some day events before, some of them I didn’t know before at all. 10 people, a decent villa at the Algarve of Portugal, a decent internet connection – let’s go!
WHAT COLIVING MAKES IT WORTH FOR ALL THE WHILE
It all depends on the people who you are with.
In my eyes, the real value of such a coliving experiment is that you will be exposed to things, ideas and people that otherwise you wouldn’t have done, heard or met. On the other hand of course, you are also confronted with challenges and organizational matters that you wouldn’t have to face if you rented an airbnb place by yourself.
Needless to say: in the end such a coliving situation stands and falls with the people who are part of it. Which agreements are necessary to implement? Who takes care of what? And where the heck is my charger cable again?
What really helped to make it a great experience in the end was that basically everybody involved was motivated and looking forward to co-live with each other in the first place. Secondly, we all had a similar everyday life which can make all the difference. We all were in need to have enough private time for our job, projects or whatever we worked on.
TO HAVE A GOOD TIME IT ALSO REQUIRES SOME WORK
So once such basic factors are sorted out it comes down to the more nitty-gritty stuff such as who is going shopping, when and what to eat, organizing communal events, how to share costs.
Yes, this is work. It is challenging and sometimes causes conflicts. Like in every environment where people live together. And it takes time and cognitive resources to find your own place in such an environment.
The rewards, however, are incomparably better in my opinion.
MORE EFFECTIVENESS IN THE PERSONAL WORK FLOW
First of all I am personally more motivated and structured when I have people around me who work. Also, sometimes I just need a little quick feedback or someone else’s opinion about a minor thing where I could get stuck for hours by myself. So I’m just asking that person next to me and might get a really good answer.
Also, it gets me streamlined that I have a certain deadline such as knowing that later today we are going to walk together to the beach for a sundowner. Since I don’t want to miss out I get my things much better done.
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Most of us are not able to do everything and have strengths in certain areas and weaknesses in others. In my case, I am not a tech-champion and often get quickly into trouble when I have to solve whatever technological stuff. But with 9 other people around chances are someone else is better in tech than me (which comes to no surprise). I can easily solve a problem that otherwise I would have procrastinated another 6 months until it had become so prominent that I would have called a friend of mine and trying to solve it remotely. Which often then ends up hours trying to do things over the phone or a zoom call.
So one thing that I realized more and more by the time: everything I needed was right here around me. It wasn’t necessary to look out for whatever answer in some Facebook group or calling an expert for a lot of money. Many of the things that I was in need of I could find an answer that really helped me within our group.
Everything I needed was right around me.
YOU GET A LOT MORE VARIETY IN MANY AREAS
During our communal dinners almost every evening I had a lot of great meals that I would have never cooked for myself. You know how it is: for yourself you don’t make the effort to cook whatever great meal. However, if 9 other people are sitting there and you want to keep up with the quality of food from the last three evenings, believe me you will do a proper job for the least.
And talking about which: sitting together at the table, sharing food and talking about how the day went is by far the best thing. I think nothing compares to that. Yeah, I wouldn’t have received such an ample and rich food. I wouldn’t be sitting in such a great villa with a lot of nature around by myself. Even if I could afford it, what would I do here by myself?
Oh and by the way, the best talks, decisions and business ideas had happened in our whirlpool under the stars. Again, would I have had a whirlpool by myself? Save to say that most probably not.
Especially considering the fact that I could have also spent this period of the Corona pandemic in a solitary apartment in my home country, I believe this coliving experiment is one of the best things I could have decided for.
MY PERSONAL TAKE-AWAYS FROM THIS PERIOD
Some people claim that you could have it all online. But there’s a gap between online and offline life that you will never be able to fill.
I got a lot of feedback about Economadia. I understood that some people understood something completely different from my website than I actually intended to communicate. I learnt to open up more to people. To talk about my challenges, issues and insecurities. I realized again that problems I have are part of other people’s life, too. I listened to people whose businesses are already further advanced than mine, asked them for advice and feedback. I got my eyes opened that I am getting lost so easily into things that might be fun but are unfortunately absolutely useless for the current state of my business.
Some people might argue that you could do it all online, that all the tools and advice are out there. Others might be more self-sufficient and auto-didactic. And again others would be just overwhelmed of so many people constantly around. Yet, my firm belief is that putting yourself in such a coliving situation is probably the fast lane for boosting your personal and professional development.
And while I got into the flow of writing this text it started heavily raining outside. It took me a little while to look up again and then all of a sudden it hit me… “Jeez, my laundry that was sitting outside on the rack!”
I quickly ran down just to realize that someone already got my back and dragged it inside into a dry place.
This, too, is coliving.
About the author
Jorin is co-founder of Economadia and loves to write articles for the blog. He’s working online since 2013 and has since then been interested in travel projects and creating great experiences for other people. He used to be a full-blooded backpacker and hitchhiker before he turned more and more into a location independent digital worker.
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