Due to the general lack of face-to-face interactions with clients, colleagues and collaborators, digital nomads face unique challenges when it comes to communication.
As the age of the digital nomad is in full swing, the idea of working remotely via internet is a fast-growing lifestyle choice, and we as a collective group of people are adding to the demand of those willing to house us. Hospitality networks online have been given a new life with the number of digital nomads wanting to find their perfect home overseas.
There is certainly one idea that has seen a rise in interest: the pioneering co-living space. It‘s the new go-to for many freelancers and digital nomads planning their lives elsewhere.
What Are Co-Living Spaces?
Co-living spaces are a budding concept. Communities of freelancers have seen the exponential benefits of coming together and creating a co-living/co-working hub, saving money on living costs, working with like-minded, motivated freelancers and continuing to travel the world. This next evolution of the WeWork model has proliferated over the past five years.
Living and working alongside other freelancers and having an amazing social atmosphere within a comfortable environment may be just what you are looking for as you start your own nomadic lifestyle. It offers the complete digital nomad experience (i.e. living and working abroad) along with the safety net of having a relatable group of fellow nomads around as you make the leap into this new lifestyle.
Indeed, there are a growing number of communities forming around the world, giving every opportunity for digital nomads to flourish with one another.
These are some things you should look for based on your needs:
- Cost: What is total cost of rent plus electricity and water bills?
- Length of stay: Is it cheaper to book longer term, or does the group want to move on after a certain amount of time?
- Wi-Fi speed: Can the connection strongly hold download/ upload speeds for 10 to 20 laptops plus phones?
- Local amenities: Are there shops easily accessible for food, drink and other supplies
- Trust: Has the owner provided security locks and personal lockers?
- Living and sleeping space: How many community members can the place hold (comfortably) at one time?
- Transportation options: Are there bicycles, scooters, cars that are available for use? If not, is the locale walking-friendly?
- Surrounding area: Are there opportunities for discovery and amusement to keep the group engaged?
Where Can I Find a Co-Living Space Abroad?
There are a few ways to seek and nail down what you are looking for. If you have a location in mind, then you can search for co-living communities in that area. Each community will have a plan already drawn up well in advance, so that new and existing members can join or re-join the clan as they move from gorgeous home to gorgeous home.
For instance, if the Mediterranean coast sounds like somewhere you want to be for an extended period, you will find that there is a community called Sun and Co. If you want to move around, country-to-country, continent-to-continent, get in touch with the Wi-Fi Tribe. Outsite is a third company, newly-formed, which programs co-living houses across the California coastline, Puerto Rico, and even Brooklyn.
These are just three options within a mounting list of such, check out websites such as Nomad List, which both rank and review hundreds of amazing places where you work, explore and enjoy the co-living dream.
What About a More Private-Living Space Abroad?
Perhaps a curated, community-focused setup isn’t for you. I’ve personally enjoyed traveling alone, or with a small group of people, and I’ve found value in the following resources.
Airbnb is an ever-growing app and website that allows you to live like a local someplace you‘ve never been. Depending on availability, you can request to stay from one night to as many months as the local government or your visa allows. Costs significantly decrease in some cities based on your length of stay. Similar to a hotel, you can see all the amenities you have available during your stay.
A few tips here: First, make sure that the Wi-Fi is decent! Also, be sure to thoroughly read the reviews. If a location has very few reviews, proceed with caution. I also recommend thoroughly vetting the neighborhood and surrounding areas before booking. Finally, more often than not, the adage “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is” applies. Do your homework before booking, as it can be difficult to back out of these arrangements once they’ve been booked.
Couchsurfing is a free service that allows members of the nomad and travel community to “crash” at fellow members’ homes for free during their travels. Once you sign up for the app, simply create a profile (be sure to let your personality shine!) and request to contact a host. Though the service is free, I recommend paying the verification fee to ensure hosts feel safe hosting you.
Couchsurfing is a resourceful app because you can choose who to stay with depending on sleeping arrangements (private room, couch, etc.), select residences with strong Wi-Fi, and vet hosts based on their ability to serve as a guide should you wish to explore the area. You might also offer to help your host with their social media presence or website, or barter your professional serves in other ways that make sense. If the host is a business-owner, offer to pitch in for an hour a night so that you can maximize your length of stay and save a ton of cash on monthly rental fees.
In my experience, house-sitting is the best and most cost-effective way to acquire accommodations while living and working as a nomad. There are some fabulous places available that need your tender loving care, and most often come equipped with a friendly pet of some kind.
To get involved with services like Trusted Housesitters, you’d simply pay a small annual sign-up fee with the house-sitting website and set up an honest and approachable profile. After that, you’ll be able to apply to the awaiting house owners.
Determining A Fair Rental Rate
Renting apartments from the likes of Airbnb are a happy compromise for those who don’t want to spend their money on hotel rooms for long periods, but want more privacy than what is available in a hostel. You can spread yourself out, literally and figuratively, and have more of a chance to cook for yourself, spend an hour in the shower, and most likely have a much better internet connection.
However, in terms of determining a fair rate, you must first research the local cost of living. For this, I recommend Numbeo, a website that is constantly updated with the latest local prices of supermarkets, short/long-term rental costs, fuel and electricity costs, alcohol, and anything else you need to know. You can even compare two places to decide which one is more cost-effective.
You can really get to know a country or city this way, and it will certainly help with forming a monthly budget. For example, a rental apartment in Bangkok can be much cheaper than a flat in a European city, but Bangkok’s western food choices may be more expensive than in the actual west.
Another important consideration is the cost of transport. Again, using Bangkok as an example (I lived there long enough to know!), it is cheap to get anywhere in the city or indeed outside of it, whereas in Europe or America, the costs are much higher.
The Big Takeaway: Do Your Homework
If you find your accommodation through a private website, check Google for reviews. Fact-checking is vital if you want to know what you are getting for your money, especially since the first time you’ll physical meet your new home and/or host will be upon your arrival. If you are using hospitality networks and online databases such as Airbnb, positive online reviews are the lifeblood of their business, so it is in their best interest not to oversell and under-deliver.
Before confirming a place, make sure you are aware of what the local neighborhood holds. Ask yourself these questions before booking:
- Do you have shops nearby?
- Is it on a busy street or quiet area?
- Are there regular, accessible transport links?
- Are there security guards?
- Is there a neighbor you can contact in an emergency?
Lastly, to clarify that you are happy with the safety of yourself and your belongings, be sure to check the latest goings-on via My Local Crime, the world’s largest and most comprehensible map showing local crimes.
This post was written as part of our Digital Nomad series.
For more info on being a digital nomad, check out our eBook.