In Part 1 of this article, we looked at the burgeoning trend of co-living and coworking spaces for expats and digital nomads abroad. The concept is picking up steam across the world, as remote workers with a passion for travel are realizing that these spaces allow them to work, play, and interact with like-minded travelers in a more productive, economical, and efficient forum.
According to Deskmag’s Global Coworking Survey 2017, there has been an increase of 5,500 coworking spaces around the world (up from 5,800) to 11,300 since 2014. The 2017 projections are estimated at 13,800. Clearly the excitement is not slowing down.
Where to Find Co-Living and Coworking Spaces
With the ease of travel between EU states, the universal regulations across these states, and the popularity of pan-continental travel in the region, it’s no wonder that Europe is the mecca for these kinds of shared working and living spaces.
Some of the most popular locations for coworking spaces abroad are Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. These countries have sort of led the trend, with many other countries now following suit.
Eastern Europe is a region where shared living and working spaces are expected to really take shape, as expats and digital nomads tend to travel extensively between the countries in that area – spending a significant amount of time abroad in one chunk.
Portugal is also a country that is rapidly gaining popularity among overseas travelers. The country is safe, English is prevalent, it is the closest European country to the U.S., and it is still relatively inexpensive compared to other Western European nations. Expect the shared living and working space trend to pick up greatly in Portugal in 2018.
With the boom in Europe, Asia and North America have also begun to adopt the concept. In fact, some of the most lavish and beautiful coworking spaces in the world reside outside of Europe.
Crew Collective in Montreal, Canada, is 12,000 square feet and occupies the former Royal Bank location. The royal theme is still prevalent, with marbled accents and chandeliers.
WeWork Weihai Lu in Shanghai, China, occupies the space of an old 1930s opium factory. According to Ashley Couch, Senior Associate & Director of Interior Design at the company (as reported by Forbes), “There are plenty of brass fixtures, heritage wood paneling, etched glass partitions, and terrazzo tiling functioning as dividers without building actual walls; warm seating options upholstered in velvet and leather…plus a stunning steel staircase painted in ivy green to complement the red brick.”
Clearly, the concept has gone beyond pure function and has entered the realm of high luxury in some locations. While the price tag is reflective of the amenities, it is clear that there is a market across all income spectrums for such a service – it’s not just for the budget traveler or the wealthy.
As property prices rise among popular travel destinations around the globe, the idea of shared living and working spaces becomes more and more enticing. Even for the pricier coworking/co-living spaces, the value is still immense compared to traditional apartment rentals.
With shared spaces, however, you get the privacy of your own bedroom, the human interaction of having an office, the amenities of a hotel or large home, and a price that greatly undercuts the alternative option of renting a private apartment.
With living arrangements that extend from a few days to a few months, you aren’t locked into a long-term contract either, giving you the freedom to remain as nomadic as you’d like.
Recent News in Shared Living and Working
- Medici Living Group, a large German development company behind many shared working and living spaces in Europe is planning major expansions in the U.S. market in 2018 (under the Quarters brand name). With a development already in place in New York City’s Lower East Side (which filled up within 30 days of opening last April), the company plans to overhaul its American co-living and coworking space development in New York and across the country in the coming year.
- While coworking spaces are surging in Beijing, China (around 3% of office space in Beijing belongs to coworking locations), the city is implementing a ban on virtual office registration during efforts to clean up what the government considers a messy and poorly-regulated industry. The main source of contention involves discrepancies in companies’ registered addresses and working addresses. More on this to come in future articles.
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Tyler Sorce is an American writer and digital nomad currently living in Lisbon, Portugal. In a past life he was a chef in Manhattan and Paris, follow his travels and favorite dishes on Instagram.