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Coliving: How to Create a Sense of Community

As a coliving consultant, people ask me all of the time, "What makes coliving different than having a roommate?" Coliving is different from traditional shared living in many ways, but the main one is...


When it comes to coliving, community is key. Coliving is about more than simply sharing living space with other people, it's about being part of an engaged community. With a well-run coliving space, there's typically an emphasis on events, authentic connections, personal/professional well-being, and creating compatibility amongst the group.

Building a strong community not only helps create a positive experience for your members, it helps you, as an operator, build a stronger business. Some of the benefits of creating a sense of community within your space are:

  • Increased Retention Rates

  • Enhanced Word-Of-Mouth Marketing

  • Higher Conversion Rates

  • Stronger Brand Overall

Building a strong community is core to any coliving business model. But creating that sense of community can be tricky, especially if you’re new to the co living industry. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Choose Your Event Structure: Top Down vs Bottom Up

Community starts by bringing people together, which means you need to create opportunities for them to connect. So, how do you create and structure events within your coliving space? Well, if you want to build community long-term there's a clear 'right way' and a clear 'wrong way' to do it. Let's dig in...

There are two different approaches to creating events:

  • Top Down

  • Bottom Up

The Top Down approach is strictly about event planning. The Top Down approach is typically used in more tourist-driven industries like hotels and cruise ships. There is a schedule of events, people know when to show up, and everything is done for them. This typically works well for short-term stays, but isn't great for building community.

The Bottom Up approach is about facilitating events, instead of simply planning them. With the Bottom Up approach, you are encouraging your coliving members to actively participate in building the community themselves. The focus is on community-led events and experiences, which keeps members more engaged in the experience. With the Bottom Up approach, your members are more personally invested in the growing the community, which makes for a much stronger, more organic community experience.

Note: One of the biggest mistakes I see coliving operators make is focusing solely on a Top Down approach. As a coliving operator, you're not meant to be an Event Planner, you're meant to be a Community Facilitator. The differences are subtle, but make a massive impact on your overall community-building strategy.

2. Decide On A Communication Platform

In order to build community, your members need to be able to communicate with one another. It sounds obvious, right? You'd be surprised how many coliving operators only have one-way communication with their members.

If you want to connect your members and start facilitating community-led experiences, you need a way for them to communicate with one another. Depending on the type of space you have, some coliving spaces use WhatsApp, others use a system of Facebook events and some have their own branded apps.

Whichever method you choose, make sure it's a platform your members will actually use. Spending time and money creating an expensive branded app often isn't the best method. Coliving operators tend to spend more time trying to convince their members to use the app, when that time would be better spent facilitating engagement on platforms they're already using.

3. Design Your Coliving Customer Experience

As a coliving operator, you've likely spent lots of time designing the space itself, but how much time have you spent designing the experience? With coliving, it's all about the experience. One of the things I do with coliving clients is to go through each stage of the Customer Journey and look for ways to not only enhance each touchpoint, but to create a sense of community throughout the journey.

Community-building begins long before a person moves into the space. Through proper branding, communication and community-integration, you can help new colivers understand the community values and feel part of it, before they even arrive.

A proper onboarding experience is absolutely critical for new community members. How do you welcome new members to the space? How do you integrate them into the existing community? What does move-in day look like? How do create a seamless overall experience? How do you make them feel like a local on Day 1?

If you're interested in having an expert take a look at your Coliving Customer Experience, you can book a 30-Minute call here: Book A Call

In conclusion, if you want to stay competitive in the coliving industry, you absolutely need to make community-building a priority within your business. It's easy for a person to find a roommate, but finding a sense of community is what makes coliving such an appealing product.

Community makes your coliving business infinitely more valuable. By following these tips, you can start to build a strong community and, in turn, a strong coliving business.

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