Whether you own a business or are employed at a remote company, working outside of the office has innumerable benefits. But if you work remotely from home, networking opportunities and making friends typically aren’t among those perks.
That’s why digital nomad coliving is becoming a booming industry.
By living where you work and working where you live, you’ll have the chance to meet your next business partner, make like-minded friends, land new clients, and find travel companions.
I’ve been a digital nomad since 2017. So, I’ll share my top tips for digital nomad coliving based on personal trial and error.
The Low-Down on Digital Nomad Coliving
Are you short on time? No worries.
I’ve put together the nifty chart below so you can make sure your colive-to-be checks off the most important boxes.
|Choose between a pre-organized or independent coliving experience
|Know what you want to get out of your time from coliving
|Decide what timezones you're willing to work in
|Avoid the off-season if networking and making friends is important to you
|Determine the room arrangements you're comfortable with
|Ask about the activities the coliving experience offers
|Understand the rules for phone booths and conference rooms
|Check if the colive offers extra benefits
|Know what you can access according to the colive's location
|Read reviews to hear real-life stories of other digital nomads' experiences
10 Must-Knows Before Choosing a Digital Nomad Coliving Space
Are you ready to pick the digital nomad coliving place of your dreams? By the time you arrive at the end of this article, the only hard decision left to make will be where in the world you want to work.
Tip #1: Decide If You Want a Scheduled vs. Independent Coliving Experience
Digital nomad coliving falls into two categories: An organized, pre-scheduled experience or a self-driven, ultra-flexible booking.
Let’s start with the scheduled option.
Several companies offer all-inclusive coliving experiences ranging from a couple of weeks to a year.
Yes, you read that right—a whopping 12 months.
In some cases, you might stay in one place the whole time. That’s often the case for theme-related retreats (such as yoga/wellness) or colivings that include business/remote work-related seminars.
Examples of coliving digital nomad companies include:
The benefits of an organized coliving experience are just what you’d think—stress-free travel, great WiFi, and the opportunity to make deeper connections since you’ll be with the same group of people for a set amount of time.
There are some drawbacks though.
For starters, you have to apply and get accepted into a program; availability can be limited, and they want to ensure they form a digital nomad group where you have the highest chance of vibing with your coworkers.
The programs are also expensive. Depending on the type of room you book and the country you’re in, you could arrange a similar trip on your own for a third—or less—of the cost.
That leads us to the second digital nomad coliving option you have to choose from—going at it independently.
Independent coliving is my personal favorite. While cost plays a role in this preference, I also enjoy having full control over where I travel and how long I stay.
My favorite company for an independent coliving experience is Selina.
Selina is an upscale hostel company boasting beautiful cowork spaces at many of their properties. Generating long-term digital nomad stays is a huge part of Selina’s marketing efforts, and they’ve had impressive success.
You can even book a Selina CoLive package, complete with housing (ranging from a dorm room to a suite, depending on your budget), access to the cowork space, and daily wellness activities.
You can read my review on Selina’s CoLive package for more details on the pros and cons of this option.
Tip #2: Know Your “Why” for Coliving
Do you want to do digital nomad coliving to make friends?
Party it up between emails?
There’s no right or wrong way to colive, but it’s crucial to know in advance what you hope to get out of the experience.
Some colivings are more business-oriented, with seminars and mingle events to help you expand your business. Others have themes such as community service or yoga.
If you sign up for a pre-organized coliving, you’ll know in advance the kind of people you can expect to encounter.
In contrast, an independently booked colive may introduce you to remote workers from a wider range of work experiences and interests. On the flip side, you may not encounter as many people that you vibe as well with.
So, considering the colive’s location can help.
If you love a good late-night outing or party atmosphere after a hard day at work on your laptop, then finding a coliving with an onsite bar and evening activities will likely be up your alley. Colives near the beach tend to have a more party-oriented vibe.
In contrast, colives in city centers may attract digital nomads that are more interested in culture, art, and museums.
Tip #3: Consider the Timezone
Do you have set office hours? How about clients in certain parts of the world that expect you to tend to them during their waking time?
Depending on the nature of your remote work, the location of your coliving space can have a huge impact on your experience.
Allow me to use myself as an example.
Before I became my own boss, I worked at a company with set office hours from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm EST.
For my early bird self, that meant I could start working in California at 5:00 am local time, finishing my day at 1:00 pm.
But since I was set on exploring countries that weren’t mine, I spent my summers in Europe, working as far east as Jordan at one point. That meant my work hours shifted from 3:00 pm – 11:00 pm local time.
It was totally worth it. But for me, it wouldn’t be sustainable in the long term.
So, if time zones matter for your job, decide in advance what sections of the world fit well with your personal waking hour preferences. Then make a list of those countries so you can explore their digital nomad coliving options.
Tip #4: Seasons Matter
Let’s face it—one of the biggest perks of coliving is meeting other remote workers.
So, if you’re looking for independent digital nomad coliving experiences, traveling to a country during its off-season can put you at a disadvantage.
Yes, you might be able to snag some cheaper colive prices.
But the tradeoff is a potentially empty or near-empty colive space.
Aside from booking your colive during the higher season for tourism, where you book your stay within that country is also important.
Let’s use Mexico as an example.
Coliving in Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Puerto Escondido is booming during the winter months. In fact, these are hot digital nomad destinations even outside of their high season.
But during the same high season, places like Mexico City and Guadalajara often have a low to mediocre number of digital nomads working at colivings.
In fact, during my coliving experience in Mexico City, I was often the only remote worker at the cowork.
So, to avoid this kind of disappointment, ask the coliving company how many bookings they currently have or expect to have during your tentative travel dates.
Tip #5: Determine Your Budget
Colivings range in price, but even the cheapest options are much more than you’d spend if you were to work from a non-coliving accommodation.
The good news is whether you book a pre-organized or independent coliving experience, you’ll almost always have different coliving price points to choose from.
Unsurprisingly, the cheapest options are those where you share a room with one or more people.
From there, room options increase in price as they increase in amenities.
Some companies allow you to book a private room but with a shared bathroom, offering a balance between privacy and budget. Alternatively, if business is good, you can splurge on a luxury suite in between hanging out with your new coliving friends.
If you book through a place like Selina, you can get a dorm room digital nomad coliving package starting at $450 USD/month.
However, at both Selina and with pre-arranged coliving experiences, you can expect this price to reach well into the thousands of dollars.
Tip #6: Ask About Colive Activities
Thankfully, not all colives are the same, allowing you to choose one that caters to your needs and interests.
So, if participating in activities is important to you, it’s crucial to ask in advance the type of activities the cowork space runs. This is the case for both pre-arranged and independent colive experiences.
For pre-arranged stays, you should not only check what kinds of activities they offer but whether there’s an additional cost to participate in them.
In contrast, independent colive activities aren’t a given. However, many colives offer activities such as exercise classes, after-work networking get-togethers, free or paid seminars, and even parties.
If you choose an independent coliving, make sure to also check whether the activities require a minimum number of digital nomads. This is another example of when selecting your remote work coliving based on the season comes in handy.
Tip #7: Understand How Conference Rooms & Phone Booths Work
There are fewer things as heart-pounding for a digital nomad than having an important phone call without access to a quiet space.
If you booked a private bedroom, this is less crucial since you’ll know you can go there.
But we can all agree that having a designated phone booth or conference room is more comfortable than trying to keep your bed out of your Zoom call.
So, I recommend asking your colive company what the conference room and phone booth situation is like.
From my experience, one or more of the following situations typically apply:
- Free phone booths with a sign-up sheet
- Free-for-all phone booths on an as-needed (and available) basis
- Paid conference room with advanced booking required
Personally, back in the day when I used to take unscheduled client calls, I always liked knowing that I’d have the chance of hopping into a phone booth without a sign-up sheet.
I also appreciated those free phone booths with a sign-up sheet for scheduling meetings with my boss.
Tip #8: Look into Extra Perks
All digital nomad coliving spaces include the same basic needs:
- WiFi connection
- Comfortable working place
- A place to sleep (usually at the same site where you work)
But many colives offer other perks as well. For example, they might provide free yoga or meditation classes in the morning.
You might also be able to get special coliving discounts at their onsite restaurant or for tours.
Extra perks might not be an initial determining factor for choosing a colive experience. But knowing all that a colive space offers might help with your decision if you’re on the fence about a couple of different options.
Tip #9: Take a Look at a Map
Location, location, location.
If you want to spend your non-working hours hiking, don’t pick a flat destination by the coast. If museums, art galleries, and restaurant choices are important to you, choose a digital nomad coliving facility in a big city instead of a small town.
Ease of exploring is also important.
Can you get around on foot? Is there public transportation nearby? Will you need to rent a car?
Most coliving facilities are well-located for the destination they’re in.
But again, if “well-located” means being in the center of a small beach town, you’ll likely want access to a car rental or public transportation to take trips to neighboring destinations on the weekends.
Tip #10: Read Reviews
Does the WiFi really work as well as the colive says it does?
Does outside noise penetrate into the cowork space, phone booths, and conference rooms?
Are there enough seats or do people have to make mock desk spaces in the common areas?
These are some of the many questions you should find answers to in advance, and digital nomad reviews can help.
I’ve experienced all these issues and more myself. But what’s an issue to some might not be an issue for all.
If you don’t take calls, noise leaking into “soundproof” call spaces won’t be a big deal. If you run a drop-ship business, the occasional WiFi outing might be worth it in exchange for coliving in a cute mountain village.
The bottom line?
Reading reviews will give you a feel for the good and the bad. And what’s bad for some might not be so bad for your situation.
When You Need a Break from Coliving
Coliving is fun and overwhelming. It’s an excellent opportunity to network and a fast-track way to drain your energy with constant activities and people wanting to hang out.
So, when the almost guaranteed moment comes and you want a break from the beautiful colive madness, you don’t have to head home.
Instead, there are several ways for you to stay on the road while having that precious alone time to recharge.
For ideas on different accommodation styles abroad, check out my post on digital nomad housing.
Are You Ready to Experience Digital Nomad Coliving?
Coliving is one of my favorite parts of being a digital nomad. It’s introduced me to great networking opportunities and I’ve made friends in countries where I knew no one.
If you have questions about digital nomad coliving, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help. I’d also love to hear your take on coliving if you already have experience as a remote working globetrotter.
P.S.—If you’re trying to find banking options as a digital nomad, check out my guide on the best banks for exapts.