Why Digital Nomads Are Choosing Co-living

UPDATED: June 28, 2024
PUBLISHED: July 6, 2024
group of friends having coffee in a co-living space

Remote work options and the gig economy have created an increase in digital nomads, people who have location-independent work. Social media tends to paint the life of a digital nomad to be a thrilling adventure of flexibility and freedom. However, the reality can often be lonesome and overwhelming. Making friends on the road is challenging, and the impact on one’s mental health can be a lot to take in. 

Two big struggles that digital nomads often run into are finding community and finding appropriate housing. Digital nomads often prioritize flexibility, affordability and a sense of community in their living arrangements. While solo living such as Airbnb can offer autonomy and privacy, it can also lead to isolation—especially for those constantly on the move. Alternatively, hostels can be a fun experience for a short amount of time, but don’t typically have the infrastructures to support working professionals. 

This is how co-living spaces have emerged, a type of communal living designed for digital nomads to help address these issues with a supportive environment where individuals can live, work and socialize together.

A built-in community

One of the key factors driving nomads toward co-living is the desire for a sense of belonging and connection. Traveling to new destinations can be exhilarating, but it can also be lonely without a strong support network. Joe Hallett runs the co-living space at Balu Living in Medellin. He says he’s noticed a growing trend of digital nomads being drawn to a slower travel lifestyle. 

“We are finding that nomads are now tending to stay for longer in Medellin,” says Hallett. “We always do a minimum 30-day stay, but we are finding that many people are staying for two to four months.”

High-speed internet, dedicated coworking spaces and social events are common features of co-living spaces, making them a good option for remote workers who rely on reliable connectivity and a conducive work environment. Many co-living spaces also offer local volunteer opportunities, communal dinners, networking events and game nights that can foster natural connections. 

At Balu Coliving, guests enjoy the best of both worlds: the privacy and comfort of their own rooms with ensuite bathrooms, alongside communal spaces where friendships can be forged and memories made. 

“It’s about different nationalities coming together, exploring Medellin and making memories,” says Hallett. 

A soft landing

Co-living spaces can also be a good starting point for those who are just beginning their digital nomad journey. It can be intimidating to figure out all the logistics required to work in another country remotely. 

“Co-livings are a great way to take a soft leap into your new chapter,” says Hallett. “It takes out the awkwardness of moving to a new city and having to find ways of making new friends.”

Aléna Carré is a digital nomad based in Galicia, Spain. Her experiences with co-living have been positive, although she tries not to return to the same one again. She’s found that it puts too much pressure to recreate those special experiences, especially when she’s made such close friendships. 

“I struggle having to say goodbye to people I just met after one month or two months of co-living,” says Carré. “We live very intense moments and out of the blue, it stops.”

Choosing a co-living space

However, not every co-living space is a great experience, and choosing the right one requires some additional insight. Carré says that word-of-mouth recommendations have always worked best for her. 

“More than a co-living, you need to feel the vibe and anticipate if it’s gonna be a good fit for you or not,” says Carré. “You always gamble when you choose to go in a co-living.”

Carré says she always looks for co-living spaces that offer communal dinners, as she’s found those to be a key factor in building relationships with other members of the co-living community. For those who are planning to stay in a co-living space for a longer period of time, she also recommends looking for co-living spaces that have more intentional community building led by the owners of the co-living space. 

Some resources that Carré uses are Coliving.com and Mapmelon. Social media is also a good place to find out more information about co-living spaces, and there are multiple Facebook groups dedicated to sharing co-living experiences and information. 

As more digital nomads extend their stays and as co-living grows in popularity among digital nomads, it signals a shift toward more community-oriented and sustainable ways of living and working remotely. By fostering collaboration, shared resources and cultural exchange, co-living spaces can offer a glimpse into the future of digital nomadism.

Photo courtesy Shutterstock/Carlo Prearo

Ionna-Brannon

Iona Brannon is a freelance journalist based in the U.S. You can read more of her work at ionabrannon.com.