Could co-working change how we live?

While starting my business I’m keen to explore non-traditional options for living arrangements. I’m already pretty nomadic in terms of where I can work, but I’m curious as to whether there’s a better way of arranging my living options to fit in with location independent working.

Whether its adventurers or digital nomads, increasing numbers of people seem to be living out of little more than 2 bags, and getting by on AirBnB and charm alone. They’ve condensed their stuff so they can maximise their experiences - awesome!

But could I live like this? Do I want to live like this?

I’m more than happy to get rid of all the ‘stuff’ I own. Over the past couple of months I’ve sold off random things I’ve been holding on to including a washing machine that sat it a cupboard not being used for a few years, plus a massage couch from an aromatherapy course I took a few years back. And it feels great, exchanging the stuff I never used for hard cash. I think I get more pleasure out of selling it than I ever did buying it in the first place.

I’m keen to keep this up and take it a step further. I’m going to go through everything and really slim down via a car boot sale next month. I’m so up for this side of it (and here’s a great way of approaching this step - packing party anyone?).

But in terms of where I live, I know for a fact I’m not happy simply renting a flat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful, spacious, in a great location, good value and we have a lovely landlady who couldn’t be more helpful. But it’s not feeding the lifestyle I want. It doesn’t inspire me, if anything it makes me too comfortable.

Unlike most nomads, if I could own a flat/house, I would. I don’t see a mortgage as a burden, I see it as an opportunity. I love property and feel it brings me security through rental income, a growing capital value and opportunities to get creative in utilising it to further my lifestyle aspirations. It’s what I trained in, what I understand and what I know I could develop in the long term. And it doesn’t make me feel too comfortable like renting my lovely flat does. It’s fun and an adventure in it’s self that would provide me with some financial security. But that being said it’s not an option that’s immediately available to me right now, so I need to look at other options.

I like the idea of more freedom in terms of accommodation. I know I love more freedom when it comes to my time. Being self-directed is super important to me. But at the same time I don’t want to be constantly moving. The option to stay somewhere for a few months but with the flexibility to move on when the opportunity arises is probably what I’m after.

Working remotely throws up other considerations, not least, community. Finding a way to surround yourself with like-minded people is invaluable. AirB&B is an obvious option in terms of flexibility and variety of locations, but the community aspect is missing for me here.

Co-working spaces with hot desking on the other hand provide a great way to dip in and out of communities or stay longer if you like. Plus, there are now so many different options popping up across the country, and globally, that this approach to working gives you a lot of location-freedom. It would be wonderful if there was this kind of community for living accommodation too, that perhaps even combined/collaborated with co-working spaces.

A way to ditch the 6–12 month contract for a weekly or monthly rolling agreement with;

  • like-minded flat mates
  • all the furniture, kitchen equipment and bills included
  • great wi-fi, of course
  • perhaps on-site secure storage to leave larger or non-essential items when off travelling, and
  • a social space for everyone in the block, not just our flat, perhaps with events.

When I first looked into becoming less tethered to one place I considered property guardianship. It’s great value, all bills included and often with parking, and in some interesting buildings. But again, the community side is really missing here. It’s pot luck who you’ll share a flat with and the short 2 weeks notice from the landlord to move on puts too much control over where I live in someone else’s hands for my liking.

If there was a way to make the co-working model work for a residential option this would probably be just what I’m after. A great like-minded community, flexibility on my part as to how long I stay and endless locations to choose from.

Interestingly Dave Cornthwaite’s struck on a cool concept for providing a base for a community of like-minded people, looking to move from an old way of living to a new yes-based approach. He’s still working out the details but with ideas covering things like converted double decker buses or shipping containers, I’m sure this will be a lovely - hug-filled - space. Check out Say Yes More’s plans for YesHQ.

I wonder though, if there’s a real opportunity here to provide a new type of space in existing underutilised property. For example as pubs continue to close, their upstairs accommodation is perfect living space while down stairs could become a co-working cafe. Or perhaps there’s an opportunity to take a student accommodation institutional investment approach and shift it to create a digital nomad accommodation model?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. As a digital nomad, what are you after in terms of accommodation options? Or, as a property professional, could you see this working? What’s your take…


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