Over the past few years, the term ‘co-working’ has become quite popular. For the startup crowd and freelancers who miss the social environment that’s often provided by working in an office, co-working is the solution. But what about co-living? I never thought it would be possible to combine both: live with a community of people while also having a co-working services available in the same building.
I’m originally from Slovenia, and I have been living in London since 2010, working as a freelancer. Anyone that has hunted for accommodation in London – like me – knows that it’s really hard to find a great place to live. Apart from high rent, dodgy places, plus plenty of extra costs (I’m looking at you, council tax!), finding a flat in London is tough, to say the least.
As a newcomer to the city, I didn’t want to deal with these pitfalls. I also wasn’t subscribed to a 9-5 work lifestyle, so I wanted to move in to a place where I could have easy access to everything and retain a social life – something that can be a challenge as a freelancer. With this in mind, it was clear that a co-living and a co-working environment was the perfect solution for this stage of my life. So I decided to move into The Collective Old Oak.
What it’s like to co-live and co-work in one place
Co-living and co-working in the same building has proven to be quite the challenge, with plenty of advantages. A few things I’ve learned about this experience during my year here:
1. One is a lonely number, but 500 isn’t.
I’m an extroverted introvert – while I enjoy casual conversations and getting to know people, I also love spending time on my own. But as a freelancer, loneliness can easy creep up on you and when you get swamped with work, it’s not as easy or simple to take the time to socialise. The solitude of self-employment is one of the least talked about challenges freelancers face, but nearly 40% of people reported that loneliness is a huge issue for them. By choosing a co-living building with more than 500 neighbours, I find that there’s always someone around and willing to listen, as they’re probably in the same boat!
2. Everything is a work in progress.
I entered The Collective with an open mind and it’s proven to be the best decision I’ve made.
Living with a lot of people is an ongoing challenge. Although sometimes I need an extra meditation session to calm mu nerves, knowing that hundreds of people live at the same place gives me comfort and plenty of opportunities to network. This experience can draw in a lot of benefits later on in life, especially in situations where you have to work with a lot of people, and I’ve made lasting friendships within these walls.
3. Stepping outside of my comfort zone has helped me grow.
One awesome thing about living in a co-living space is that there’s always something going on. The best way to have unique experiences in an environment like this is to make effort to get out of your comfort zone, which bolsters the ability to adapt to changes in life faster, and with more confidence. As an example at The Collective, I once decided to try out a full moon meditation session in the cinema room and it turned out to be totally awesome! I tried something new and learned a new skill, while challenging myself to try something different.
Social relationships and making friends can lead to a longer and healthier life – and with 500 neighbours, you’ll definitely have plenty of chances to communicate.
Having so many facilities in a single place can be a little overwhelming at times, but the best way to experience a co-living environment is to try out everything. It’s very easy to get comfortable with your lifestyle and work too much – especially as a freelancer. In the mornings, I normally head down to the co-working office and grab a seat at a table full of freelancers. While as an introvert, it’s tempting to just work all day and head back to my room, I also make sure I take the time to stop and attend some of the events that happen in the building daily. Since everything is in the same place, this means I can definitely take the time off work (and reduce travel expenses!) and enjoy an event or two along the way.
4. Communication is key.
One of my biggest pieces of advice for anyone moving to a co-living space is to communicate – with your flatmates, and the on-site team. If you have a problem with something, address it. By living in a co-working environment, you’re forcing yourself to develop communication skills, which is an essential skill that will help you in your personal as well as professional life. But communication isn’t just useful for others – it’s also healthy. A 2010 study noted that social relationships and making friends can lead to a longer and healthier life – and with 500 neighbours, you’ll definitely have plenty of chances to communicate.
Co-living and co-working in the same building can be a challenge, but it’s definitely one you should experience at least once in your life. I’m so grateful that I did!
To try co-living and co-working at The Collective, book a tour to find out more.