Length of stay Most people stay in a living space for at least a month, if not longer. Today I'll share how I set up my first living space. Until now, I have hesitated because now, a few years and several spaces of coexistence later, I have high expectations regarding living spaces, including the spaces with which I work. But it's a story worth telling.
Not because we were able to create the most legendary living space in history, it's not about that. These are two children who had no idea what they were doing and yet they managed to live an experience that for many is still one of the best moments of their lives. This post is not an example of how to create lasting brands of coexistence, but it is a story that will teach you a way of thinking, namely, how to think about opportunities and how to think about coexistence. With that said, let's dive into it.
This is the real, naked story of Gui Perdrix's story of living together. And my bank account didn't look good ???? The concept was ready. Now we needed to find a name. Luckily, Renat founded a group called Lifestyle Engineering, of which he has been a member since its inception.
In short, it's a tight community of lifestyle designers who support and educate each other on how to approach life. Now that we had a website, we could promote it. We wanted to create an experience that would improve lives and provide our residents with affordable housing. We decided that we would be happy if at least we could live in space for free.
In addition to the fact that people paid in different currencies and that we had to pay commissions, it was a big mess to know who received exactly how much over the course of 48 hours. So two days before flying, Renat and I emptied our bank accounts, received the help of some friends who also issued a big check and flew to Barcelona hoping that nothing would go wrong. But for me, buying this apartment was the biggest deal (and commitment) I had undertaken so far, and that made me relive some German trends. When the real estate agent didn't return the contract to me, he signed and wrote: “Don't worry about that”, I did start to worry.
That experience was a great learning experience, since I realized that the concepts of trust and personal relationships had totally different meanings in Spain than in Germany, and that the colloquial and unstructured attitude of my landlord was actually the best way to make this project a reality. He showed me the house, signed the contract, gave me the keys and his WhatsApp number and left. Renat managed to print a few large motivational posters and brought them by plane from Russia. We quickly prepared the spaces and the bedding, rearranged the furniture to create a dedicated living room and co-working space, and we started to live.
In the beginning, we started organizing family dinners. These were intimate events and outsiders could only come if they requested it. Renat organized a half-day workshop on your inner purpose, I organized a movie night and we organized an open day where the entire community of Mindvalley University could come and visit it (in case you don't remember, that's the name of the big event that all the residents of a house in Barcelona attended). From one of our residents who organized a training session, which brought 30 people to the house, to races and improvised self-organized sessions, all these events were emerging and making the space magical. One day, someone organized an outside speaker to give a talk.
That day, more people came to our house than we could accommodate. It became the biggest outdoor event I could ever dream of. From the beginning, we defended “democracy” as one of our core values. Our residents knew that they were encouraged to use the space, without any permission, as long as it was aligned with our values.
And we let them judge for themselves. If you want to allow a community to exist, you must allow it to build on its own, and this starts with giving members trust and power. This learning persists to date and is one of my most fundamental conclusions regarding coexistence, and I will delve 10 times deeper into this topic in my next book Art of Coliving. Over the weeks, we tested several decentralized collaboration initiatives.
Our main pillar of communication was our Facebook chat. We tried it with a Facebook group, but people weren't actively participating in it (most likely, we didn't have a critical mass and it's not the best platform). The best thing about Messenger is that people are active and that it allows you to create surveys. Therefore, all of our collaborative decision-making took place there. Living in a community cannot be without problems.
What sets a successful community apart is how members make sense of each other's differences. In our case, we made the quick decision to outsource cleaning and hold people responsible for cleaning. So we created a simple collaborative budgeting spreadsheet that worked. The key is to create the right systems and processes that eliminate friction and improve people's ability to contribute to their own stay.
As you've seen with living together, I didn't know either. But with the right company for the trip, an agile approach and the right questions in mind, we were able to take the first step on what became a lifelong journey. If you have any questions or are thinking about creating a living space, contact me at Coliving Diaries (where this blog post was originally published). Are you thinking of staying in a living space? These are some of the reasons why you should choose to live together instead of an Airbnb, a hotel or a hostel and some disadvantages why you shouldn't live together. If you travel frequently for work, or maybe you have flexible hours during part of the year, a living space is likely to be useful to you.
This was my experience, but then, as I visited other living spaces and talking to other operators, I learned that the areas of working together are almost always there underutilized. Many living spaces are located right in the center of the city and some are located in rural and remote areas. Obviously, you are free to do what you want, but the mentality in a living space can consist of doing some activities together. Living spaces are also very flexible: some offer multiple rental options and night, weekly and monthly residents all reside together.
Living spaces offer a unique experience where you live with other people who share similar interests and objectives. Many people choose not to worry about these details and that's why most small living spaces fail. Think of them as if they were renting an apartment month to month, but that apartment is a room in a living space. I know that boy.
Do your part and do your part to keep the living space clean, tidy and pleasant to live in. You can use it however you want and it's another easy way to meet people who live in the space of coexistence. Together, these three factors (demographic changes and lifestyle factors, an evolving definition of work, and a responsive real estate market backed by investors who are capitalizing on reduced risk and quick profits) have made the business models behind these coworking and coliving spaces much more attractive and able to meet the demand for physical locations where single workers can connect with others, achieve their professional goals and live the life they want.