Coliving in 2021 & Beyond

What will 2021 be like for coliving residents, operators, developers and investors?

What is possible for coliving in 2021?

Last year took a significant hit on the world, and of course, the coliving industry was impacted too.

As we take new steps and 2021 unfolds, we choose not rush into things in order to give space and curiosity to innovate ways that can empower us and enable us to integrate all the lessons we have learned.

In this article we share with you what we envision for coliving in 2021 and how Conscious Coliving and our partners can support you in your journey ahead.

Let’s begin.

Coliving 2021: Table of Contents
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    2021: No Mud, No Lotus

    coliving 2021

    This saying by Thích Nhất Hạnh has served a useful mantra during many tough moments. 

    It basically means that there cannot be happiness without suffering. 
    There cannot be growth without learning. 
    There cannot be blossoming without embracing the darkness.  

    2020 was a hard year for just about everyone and the coliving sector felt it too. 

    While some coliving spaces managed to stay afloat and thrive, many were forced to drop their rates, reduce occupancy, and in some cases even close down, inevitably leading to suffering at many levels. 

    However, the year was not without lessons for the industry. 

    Perhaps one of the biggest lessons learned is that attempting to scale without placing an equal amount of effort into facilitating authentic community and connection within shared living spaces is a recipe for failure.

    At Conscious Coliving, we envision that by the time December 2021 comes around, the coliving sector will be in full bloom again. 

    Not only do we envision this, we are taking concrete steps and actions towards making this become a reality. 

    Our mission at Conscious Coliving is to make the coliving sector thrive through a very impact-oriented focus on facilitating spaces that foster connection with self, others, and nature

    And we do not take our mission lightly. 

    The Conscious Coliving consultancy is our shared baby, our shared purpose, our shared passion. And we know that this alignment enables us to relate and perform in a highly collaborative, cohesive, and effective manner. 

    In mid January, the Conscious Coliving team regrouped after quality time off that allowed us to slow down, regenerate, zoom out, integrate and get really excited about the future. 

    Before jumping into 2021 with full steam, we decided to organise several envisioning sprints for us to reflect on and map this very pivotal year for us and the coliving sector at large. 

    In this blog post, we share some of the highlights from our sprints, including plans around our services, research, partnerships, content, and impact.

    We hope you will find our reflections useful. 

    And, we have packed this article with resources to make your coliving thrive in 2021! 😉

    Supporting the Coliving Industry in 2021

    We see our clients as allies in our mission. Coliving operators, developers, and investors are the players co-creating the new living paradigm we envision. 

    During our first and second envisioning sprints, we dove deep into exploring how we can optimise our services to each of our client sectors (developers, operators, and investors) in order to best enable them to thrive.

    Coliving Developers

    Coliving developers are the people and companies who convert ideas about coliving into real shared living spaces. In 2021, we will support developers bring coliving to life through the following services:

    • Concept Development 
    • Industry/Market Research 
    • Financial Modelling
    • Architecture & Spatial Design 
    • Neighbourhood Engagement

    Coliving Operators

    Coliving operators are our heroes and biggest teachers- living, breathing, and facilitating the coliving experience!  In 2021, we will support coliving operators create thriving communities via the following services:

    • Impact & Sustainability Implementation and Measurement
    • Spatial Design & Wellbeing
    • Business & Financial Model Optimisation
    • Resident & Community  Experience

    Coliving Investment

    In 2021 we will be expanding our client base to include those who wish to invest in coliving as well as those who are seeking investment. 

    We will be offering industry insights and connections with aligned and relevant investment opportunities. Check out our coliving investing page. Of particular interest is the rising trend of impact investing, defined by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) as investments “made with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return.” 

    Impact investing can be applied to coliving through relevant KPIs, inputs, and outcomes such as those related to affordability, resource efficiency, social benefits, and smart design.     

    Our upcoming Impact Framework, which we describe in more detail later in this post, will support the movement of impact investors into the coliving market.

    Coliving Industry Partners

    Our vision for coliving would not be nearly as ambitious and forward thinking if it were not for our partners. Our partners help us to do things we wouldn’t be able to do on our own, expanding our skillsets, resources, and offerings and reaching a greater audience. 

    Some of our main partners currently include Co-Liv, Art of Co, Coliving Insights, Salto, and Coliving Hub.

    Here you have our latest coliving partnership announcements and the benefits these provide for coliving developers, operators and investors:

    Not only do our partners support us in creating tailored packages for our clients and the wider coliving ecosystem, we also collaborate to generate truly insightful, relevant and useful resouces for coliving spaces – you will find a few of these below.

    Back in 2018 when we decided to bring Conscious Coliving to life, we made a conscious and intentional mindset shift:

    We moved from competition to coopetition. From scarcity to abundance. Radical collaborations are needed in 2021and beyond. 

    Together, we can change the world (and create great businesses while at it!).

    Stay tuned for upcoming partnership announcements and their benefits for the coliving industry. And if you feel we should explore future collaborations get in touch.

    Resources for Coliving Communities in 2021

    In 2021, we will also continue to provide high-value content to the industry. Some of the key areas on which our content will focus include:

    • Coliving apps and tech
    • Community building and facilitation
    • Coliving architecture, design, and floorplans
    • Boundaries in coliving, and
    • Measuring impact and social value

    We share a bit more about these below:

    Coliving Apps & Technology: Leveraging Co-Tech

    co-living apps

    Across the coliving sector, we see apps and technology in general playing a significant role in enabling operators to offer a high quality experience for residents. Make sure to explore the Coliving Apps & Tech Guide

    Apps for instance can facilitate many elements of coliving including onboarding, communication, bookings, payments, sustainability practices and much more.

    The Coliving Apps 2021 Guide serves as a comprehensive overview of the main coliving apps currently on the market and we will constantly be updating it to maintain its relevance.

    The Guide also serves as a great introduction to the next edition of Coliving Insights, coming out in March 2021. UX/UI, PropTech, ConTech, FinTech, PMS, ERP, IoT and customised apps are just some of the topics that will be explored in Coliving Insights N°5: Co-Tech: Innovating Coliving with Technology. 

    Get ready for a journey into the depths of technology for the coliving industry!  

    Community Building & Community Facilitation

    In November 2020, Conscious Coliving, in collaboration with Gui Perdrix of Art of Co and 15+ contributors, published The Community Facilitation Handbook v1.0:

    A holistic guide that details how to leverage the role of a community facilitator to help shared living spaces develop authentic communities that thrive.

    So far, The Community Facilitation Handbook has been downloaded by more than 500 members of the coliving ecosystem, and we are happy to say it has garnered a lot of positive feedback. 

    We are especially thrilled that people are finding it useful, sharing it, implementing it and even printing it 🙂 

    You can access and download The Community Facilitation Handbook v1.0 here, for free.

    We have several plans to continue supporting coliving communities on leveraging the power of community building in 2021. 

    In a few weeks we will be announcing a Community Building Webinar that will cover not only topics such as coliving in the time of Covid-19 and market trends, but also the business case for community building in 2021 and tools and approaches for facilitating community from the bottom up. 

    Stay tuned!

    We also want to share with you a fantastic resource for community building in 2021 and beyond: “Together Resilient: Building Community in the Age of Climate Disruption“. 

    We take this opportunity to show-off our signed copy from the wonderful Ma’ikwe Ludwig 😉 Here a very relevant quote from her in 2021:

     Real hope comes from looking unflinchingly at our current circumstances and then committing wholeheartedly to creative action”

    Oh, and just one more on community building resources for 2021: our upcoming Community Building and Community Facilitation Online Courses! 


    You can find our more about the Community Building Courses here!

    Coliving Research, Trends, Statistics & Insights

    Research is one of the most fundamental methods for innovating and for bringing evidence-based input into any development process.

    A research-based approach has been one of the key ways in which Conscious Coliving has supported the coliving sector since the beginning and we have collaborated with several research partners to carry out and publish research on a variety of coliving topics. 

    For instance, last year we collaborated on all Coliving Insights editions as Content and Research Partners:

    As mentioned above in the “Coliving Apps 2021 Guide” section, make sure to sign up to get notified as soon as Coliving Insights N°5: Co-Tech: Innovating Coliving with Technology.

    This edition includes 140+ pages of insights from 25+ contributors that dive deep into the significance of technology solutions that we find within the real estate industry. 

    Some of the topics covered are:

    UX/UI, Proptech, Contech, PMS platforms, IoT solutions and, of course, customised apps.

    Also, it explores how to integrate digital transformations to innovate and enhance your coliving space, experience, operations, profitability and sustainability.

    Coliving Architecture & Design: 2021 Coliving Floorplan Guide

    As part of our coming Coliving Architecture & Coliving Design series, our Head of Spatial Design, Tom Manwell, will be taking the lead on putting together a Coliving Floorplan Guide.

    This Coliving Floor Plan Guide will include several case studies to support operators and developers with this elemental aspect of coliving architecture and design in 2021.

    In the meantime, you can explore some of our previous articles from Tom and expert contributors for insights on coliving architecture & design:

    Boundaries in Coliving

    In November of 2020, Conscious Coliving in collaboration with Co-Liv and …And So Forth hosted: Sexual Assault: Addressing issues of boundaries, violation and harassment in coliving

    The purpose of this roundtable was to help break the stigma surrounding the topic of sexual harassment and assault in coliving, and provide awareness, education and ultimately prevention. 

    We plan to continue exploring this very important topic this year. 

    "What is Coliving?" - A Definition for 2021 & Beyond

    Globally, the concept of “coliving” (also referred to as “co-living” and “co living”) has evolved over the past few years as more and more people and organisations joined the market (or better said, movement).

    So, at this moment in history, what is coliving?.

    What is the most empowering and useful definition of coliving for 2022 & beyond?

    You can explore this and more in the Coliving 2022 guide.

    What is Co-living?

    The Conscious Coliving Manifesto v3.0

    How can coliving truly fulfill its full potential?
    And what would be the impact if it did?

    Back in 2018 Conscious Coliving came together to explore these questions, creating the first version of  The Conscious Coliving Manifesto, now on its version 3.0.

    Connection with Ourselves, Others & Nature
    can be achieved through:

    The Conscious Coliving Manifesto v3.0

    What makes this possible? Strong foundations: Financial Models, Spatial Design, Policy & Regulation Alignment and Wise Management & Operations

    Explore The Manifesto v3.0 as we continue to update it. We will also be offering a free online course in the coming months to help you implement aspects of the manifesto into your own space 🙂

    The Art of Coliving

    In his upcoming book, our partner Gui Perdrix (founder of Art of Co and Director of Co-Liv) explores one of the most relevant questions coliving developers, operators and investors must hold in theirs journeys:

    “How can coliving operators succeed in creating transformative communal experiences at high scale?”

    Over the years Gui’s passion for fostering human connection has lead him to visit more than 100 coliving communities around the world. He has even been a coliving operator himself! 

    You can learn more about Gui and The Art of Coliving here. 

    We look forward to our continued partnership with Gui this year! 

    Measuring Coliving's Impact & Social Value

    Throughout 2020, the Concious Coliving team began to develop The Coliving Impact Framework, a user-friendly impact framework designed specifically for coliving.

    We have been refining this framework through research, data collation and focus groups with industry players such as Venn, B-Hive Living, and Gravity Co-Living as well as impact investing experts, including Yihana Ritter from Align Impact

    The Coliving Impact Framework will be ready for release in 2021 and will include a ‘Social Value Metrics Database’ with indicators pulled from existing frameworks such as GIIN, the One Planet Living Framework, and the GoodHome Report

     We are in particular excited to be aligning our framework with several of the indicators from the UN Sustainable Development Goals, perhaps the most recognized impact framework in the world. 

    These 17 goals were ratified in 2015 and agreed upon by 193 countries, with the aim to achieve a better and more sustainable future by 2030. They are designed to tackle the world’s greatest challenges. Each of these goals breaks down into further subcategories and targets, some of which are relevant for coliving.

    While she was at UN Women, our co-founder Naima supported United Nations Member States integrate gender-responsive measures into the SDG targets, and as such she is quite familiar with the indicators. 

    The coliving industry has the potential to support the world meet targets under:

    Coliving has the potential to support the world in achieving several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
    You can click on each of the Goals above to read more about their specific targets and indicators.

    We see this Framework serving as an industry standard for coliving operators and developers to measure and report the impact they contribute to their residents, neighborhoods and cities and beyond.

     We really look forward to sharing it with you.

    2021: The year of Sustainability in Coliving

    Environmental sustainability
    is no longer a nice-to-have for coliving spaces,
    it’s a must-have;
    and there is an increasing appetite
    from both customers and investors

    Over the past few years real estate professionals have been putting impact and sustainability at the core of their company’s values, cultures, KPIs and developments.

    In 2021, this (necessary) trend will accelerate even more.

    This is neatly aligning this year with countries such as China and US making bold and ambitious climate targets as well as companies mainstreaming more sustainability practices across their operations.

    Coliving has the potential to lead the way in pushing for innovations in social impact and environmental sustainability. 

    We already see several spaces adopting sustainability certifications including BREEAM, GRESB, and WELL.

    Coliving Business Models: Doing Good is Good Business

    coliving business models

    In January 2021, our co-founders Penny and Matt gave a presentation at RE:Connect called:

    Doing Good is Good business; How Coliving can Become and Impact-Oriented Industry

    In this presentation, they highlighted the ways in which coliving is showing its potential to be a more environmentally sustainable way of living.

    Penny and Matt present several frameworks that can directly integrate with your coliving business model and make it more resilient and sustainable.

    You can watch the full presentation for free here, (sign-up with your email address/LinkedIn account required).

    A Helpful Choice Moving Forward: Stubborn Optimism

    As mentioned earlier in the section about partnerships, the difference that made the difference was a mindset shift.

    2021 can be an exciting year if we move into that belief. 

    However, it will certainly hold unprecedented challenges for us in our personal and professional areas (or better said, for us as humanity).

    As we shift into 2021, another base mindset that we feel essential is:


    Sadly, optimism as a concept has been often overused and reduced in the sense of its potential. However, it can be the difference that makes the difference moving forward in 2021.

    Let’s upgrade it:

    Stubborn Optimism.

    The best person you can hear an explanation about “Stubborn Optimism” and its benefits is most likely Christiana Figueres, former United Nations Climate Chief and main architect of the (before it happened, considered imposible) 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. 

    We invite you to watch the full 8 min TED Talk.

    This talk about the power of Stubborn Optimism was part of the TED Countdown Global Launch back in October 2020, alongside talks and strong stances from global brands such as IKEA, Amazon and Apple.

    Here you have a few lines from her TED Talk:

    “Faced with today’s facts, we can be indifferent, do nothing,
    and hope the problem goes away.
    We can display and plunge into paralysis.

    Or we can become stubborn optimists with a fierce conviction that,
    no matter how difficult, we must and we can rise to the challenge.

    Optimism is not about blindly ignoring the realities that surround us.
    That is foolishness.

    It is also not a naive faith that everything will take care of itself, even if we do nothing. 
    That is irresponsibility.

    The optimism I’m speaking of is not the result of an achievement –
    it is the necessary input to meeting a challenge.

    It is in fact, the only way to increase our chance of success.

    Optimism means envisioning our entire future and then actively pulling it closer.
    Optimism opens the field of possibility.

    It drives your desire to contribute, to make a difference.
    It makes you jump out of bed in the morning because you feel
    challenged and hopeful at the same time.

    But it isn’t going to be easy. We will stumble along the way.

    That is where stubbornness comes in.

    Our optimism cannot be a sunny day attitude.
    It has to be gritty, determined, relentless.

    It is a choice we have to make every single day.
    Every barrier must be an indication to try a different way.

    In radical collaboration with each other, we can do this.”

    Supporting Coliving Communities in their Sustainability Journeys

    As 2021 unfolds Concious Coliving and our partners will be increasing our focus on supporting the coliving industry to become sustainable – and therefore, to thrive in the long term.

    If you are curious of what is possible, get in touch.

    (And if you are a Coliving Hub member, you can access our exclusive sustainability support offers.)

    In the meantime, here you have a couple of insightful videos from Penny:

    Embodying Wellbeing in 2021

    Coliving Communities in 2021
    The Conscious Coliving core team @ "Envisioning Coliving 2021" Sprints

    In preparing for our third envisioning sprint, we decided to allocate a considerable amount of time to discuss what wellbeing looks and feels like for us as individuals and as a team.


    First of all, wellbeing is a core aspect of The Conscious Coliving Manifesto and as such we find it important to regularly check-in on what wellbeing means to us in order to make sure the whole team is aligned when we speak with clients about it. 

    Secondly, our team is currently working from different locations around the world: Penny and Tom are in London, Naima and Juan are in Costa Rica, and Matt just moved to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where he will be based for at least a year! This type of check-in helps us maintain a sense of connection, no matter how physically distant we may be.

    Thirdly, 2020 was challenging for us, as it was for so many people. All of us struggled with lockdown isolation and limitations.

    While in some cases, the pandemic enabled us to slow down and look inward, in other instances, we found ourselves going into work overdrive, almost leading to burnout.

    We do not want to fall into the same holes again and as such, during our discussions, we wanted to remind ourselves of what embodying wellbeing means for us. 

    At the individual level, we discussed that wellbeing looks and feels like:

    • Having quality time off and making time and space for wellbeing practices such as being out in nature, dancing, yoga, meditation, cycling, circles, reading, exercise
    • Slowing down and being able to say to NO to certain things in order to be able to say YES to our top priorities
    • Creating and sticking to routines
    • Having financial stability and long-term plans and strategies
    • Feeling grounded in ourselves
    • Feeling belonging and a sense of place in our physical environment
    • Practicing and feeling self love on daily basis
    • Knowing and setting our boundaries
    • Being aware of triggers / states of reactivity

    As a team, we discussed that wellbeing looks and feels like:

    • Having focus and clearly-laid out team strategies and goals
    • Having regular check-ins at the beginning of every group call to hear about personal updates and how everyone is doing emotionally
    • Connecting from not only a head-space but also a heart-space for all of our interactions
    • Feeling a sense of trust and goodwill between all of us
    • Having safe and open spaces for regular feedback
    • Bringing a sense of curiosity and play to our work 😀
    • CoCo Boogieing!

    The good news for us is that we fully support each other with taking quality time off and practicing whatever wellbeing practices work for each team member. 

    We were also pleased to see and feel how aligned we are on what wellbeing as a team looks and feels like. 

    We realised that sometimes we just need a reminder to realign and get back into balance individually and collectively. 

    Hopefully this serves as an inspiration for yourself and/or your teams to carry out a similar exercise!

    Taking Mindful Steps in 2021 & Beyond

    There is no doubt that we are experiencing and living through a very unique moment in the history of humankind. Despite all the challenges, we feel very lucky to be alive during this time of so much change and evolution. 

    We know that conscious and intentional coliving spaces will play a central role in co-creating the new living paradigm that we all want and deserve. We are here to support each other in making this happen. Mindfully.

    So 2021, here we go!!

    If you found this article useful and you think someone else might to, please go ahead and share it on your LinkedIn profile:

    Finally, feel free to get in touch and book a conversation – we are here to support you on your journey!

    This article has been coauthored for you by:

    Transformational Coach and facilitator. Trainer in mindfulness, sharing circles, and how to live and lead more consciously. Co-author of the Community Facilitation Handbook and the Coliving Apps & Tech Guide. Facilitates community engagement strategies.

    Matt is responsible for designing community experience and impact strategies and measuring the social value of coliving communities. Matt is also a founding member and current Head of Community of Co-Liv and has worked for The Collective on their Impact Team.

    Juan is a Communications Strategist, Project Manager, Systems Engineer, Team Coach and Executive Coach with an ontological/systemic approach. Co-author of the <a href="/coliving-apps-tech-guide/">Coliving Apps, Software & Tech Guide</a> and contributor of <a href="/the-community-facilitation-handbook/">The Community Facilitation Handbook</a>. He facilitates connection for individuals, teams, and communities.

    If you found this article useful, please consider sharing it with others 😊🙏

    conscious community facilitation

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