Mélanie Larouche | Journalist
Change is afoot in entrepreneurial culture. All around the world, business people are coming together and innovating to strike just the right work/life balance. The result? Coworking's younger sibling: coliving.
Coliving is akin to online social networking, just in person. Entrepreneurs are sharing housing with common work areas for set periods of time in locations around the globe. In Quebec, Maria Kinoshita does double duty as trailblazer and ambassador for this nascent movement. She is currently working on a coliving project in Montreal.
Maria, what is coliving?
"Coliving is a form of shared living for entrepreneurs. They live and work in the same space with other entrepreneurs in a location they visit regularly for business. For many people, their coliving space is not their primary residence. Each person has their own private space, but everyone shares certain rooms such as the kitchen, living room and patio.
A variety of activities are organized around this community so residents can feel more at home and build relationships. It's a new 'all-inclusive' model for entrepreneurs."
Who's doing it?
"You'd be wrong to think it's just for young entrepreneurs. People of all ages are coliving. Entrepreneurs all have similar needs, like learning about the host culture and becoming part of the business community. Coliving helps them do just that.
Though entrepreneurs tend to have similar interests and are usually social and open to new experiences, they oftentimes move in very different circles."
What are the advantages of coliving?
"Coliving and coworking are usually offered together in the same space, so it gives you a fixed address in the country you're working in. It's also much cheaper than staying in a hotel and makes you feel more at home, even when you're on the other side of the world.
Plus, it facilitates social interaction and networking, which are important when you're trying to assimilate into a new place. There's usually also a community manager who organizes activities."
What was the genesis of coliving?
"Many entrepreneurs have to travel abroad for extended periods of time to learn about their target markets. But there are also so-called 'nomad' entrepreneurs who love to travel and want a pied-à-terre in attractive locales for business and leisure.
In some parts of the world like Scandinavia, where the cost of accommodations is prohibitive, coliving is a great option. But in Asia, it's the opposite. Coliving is expensive, so it's more for the wealthy. Coliving is well established in a number of European countries like Spain and Portugal where it's so popular there are waiting lists to get in."
Has it taken off in Canada?
"Canada is more traditional, so coliving isn't big here yet and politicians haven't really warmed to the idea at this point.
We've been working on our project in Montreal for over a year. It's geared toward both locals and international clients. Real estate has been a bit of a hang-up, but we're still optimistic that we'll be up and running around 2018 or 2019."
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