Blog – The History Of Coliving

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The History Of Coliving

We already know that shared living within a community is a sustainable, social and fun way of living, but where did it originate? It may be a surprise to some but communal living has been around for centuries.  Get ready for a small history lesson.

Shared living out of survival

We go all the way back to when we were hunter-gatherers, living in big mobile camps. Stay with us as our human history is actually quite fascinating. Back in that time, humans relied on each other for all basic human needs. When the situation became unsustainable, we moved to a different place where we could achieve that as a group or “community” you could call it. This living scenario went on for many years until around 10.000 BC when we humans started to build permanent settlements. When humans began living in these hamlets, people started to rely on each other less and less, kind of boring but what can you do? (wink emoji) However, they still lived with each other because of 1 big reason; Humans are social creatures in nature. Our bodies work better when we are not isolated.

Early depiction of shared living Source;

The housing impact of the industrial revolution

Later on, during the middle ages, we started living with family and friends in one or two rooms while sharing other communal spaces with other townspeople and tenants. In a way, it was the first version of a shared housing environment. This way of living went on for a long time until the industrial revolution was initiated and we started living in individual houses.  People began commuting to work in the city, which in return, created a demand for accommodation closer to people’s workplaces. After the industrial revolution, in 1958, the first official cohousing concept resurfaced in Northern France. In this concept, farmers worked for themselves on land owned by themselves. At the same time, they were living in shared houses with their own private room. This concept was called Utopian Phalanstère communities.

The rise of modern coliving

At the same time, around 1970, a shared kitchen concept came about in Denmark. Everyone had their own homes, with a shared kitchen. They even had maids working in the communal kitchen to serve the owners when they came in. Almost as if they were in a hotel! Fun fact: the TV show Friends motivated many people to move into rental houses and live together with friends because it looked so fun.

Around the same time, Americans started to rent out rooms. Children left their homes to explore the world and parents could rent out the rooms to boarders. This way, the parents could still take care of someone while at the same time earning some extra cash. Who doesn’t want that?

At the same time, in the 1970s, the Danish took their cohousing initiative a step further. They’ve built their houses around all communal areas instead of only the kitchen. This concept was born out of the desire to interact with each other during the day. Fast forward by a bit over a decade, the birth of the internet brought hacker houses into the scene. These were houses where computer engineers lived and worked together to build tech start-ups. The first actual ‘modern coliving’ building was official and it was a place where people wanted to be surrounded by like-minded others and where working remotely was a key aspect.

Photo of Skråplanet, the second oldest cohousing community in Denmark. Source;

Coliving now

Modern co-living spaces are temporary, society’s view of the cohousing format is that it’s here to stay. Therefore, coliving is interesting for travelling people seeking more than just housing, but a community wherever they go in the world. What makes coliving so popular nowadays has many reasons; remote working, rising housing prices, or the unwillingness to settle.

This generation of young professionals have children at a later age, desire to see the world and meet people to learn more about cultures and different lifestyles. Recent trends show that, in general, people between 20 and 40 are willing to give up a portion of their personal space in return for more communal areas if that means they can achieve this lifestyle and live abroad.

 Now, these homes nowadays are very modern, technologically advanced and simply brilliantly designed. Where in the middle ages, there would be one bath for the entire building, present-day coliving facilities come with multiple bathrooms, toilets, gaming rooms and coworking stations. Some even have resort-like facilities such as swimming pools… Now that’s what we call living the right way.”

The collective coliving in London


And what about you? Don’t you want to see what coliving can offer you? How can you meet people, live abroad, and feel part of a community all while working on your (remote) career? At these are all possible. Check out our destinations all over the world and you might find out that shared living is the perfect lifestyle for you.

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