Coliving impacts after one year of pandemic crisis

It’s been more than a year now. 

In the 3rd month of 2020, we went lockdown, started working remotely and travel was banned. And as virtual became the reality, we have resisted and adapted to the point of keeping the momentum going for Coliving.

For us, it has always been critical to have a deep understanding of the people and community and their perspective facing this crisis that we are (still) going through. So, we wondered over the current and near-future impacts on digital nomads and remote workers’ lives – one of the main targets for Coliving. 

In our analysis, we conducted several interviews with the target to understand, firstly, how they are coping with Covid-19 and what’s likely to change in the future, and secondly, how “shared living operators/enthusiasts” can readapt and redesign the overall experience in the space and community to make sure these new needs are met.

Last year we had the opportunity to discuss these topics in the Co-liv roundtables series, exploring the impact of Covid- 19 and how it will shape the architecture, services, and demand profile for coliving and other build-to-rent strategies to pivot towards a sustainable future.

And one year later we believe it is still a very current and highly relevant topic to share with all of you.

Before diving into the main insights, when asked the question – Do you consider continuing the digital nomadic lifestyle, and is there anything you might be changing in that lifestyle? – this is what we got from our survey to Digital Nomads – all inquiries stated they intend to continue the nomadic lifestyle: 1/3 remaining as it was pre-covid and the rest with the following needs/changes:

  • Maintain/have a remote job – “Remote Work will scale up like never before” – The trend of remote workers and digital nomads was on rising over the last 5 years but has accelerated dramatically due to the pandemic
  • More planning and research vs going with the flow/impulse
  • Be more selective based on overall safety & health systems of the country as well as consider proximity to home base country/family
  • Look for “destination/more remote” places; close to nature and with more space
  • A shift from “constantly on the road” to staying longer periods of time in the same place, slow down – “I realize now that freedom means a lot to me – likely to be slow(no)mad style though” and “I’ll travel more slowly, longer in each place”, just to quote 2 interviewers
  • Health as a priority – demand for well-being activities
  • Create a home base – they want to create a home base to return to during their journey

So here are the main takeaways from our research on digital nomads in Portugal and some of the key findings and changes it may trigger for the coliving market:

  1. Community-driven concepts can provide safe harbor  – Sharing accommodation with others doesn’t seem to be a concern during this phase or for the future (60% of the interviewers are doing it). Coliving communities may be better positioned to handle a pandemic while balancing a sense of normalcy and connection with others. This is even more true for already established communities. In fact, longer lengths of stays, which also mean more business predictability and less hybrid with short term, are crucial to creating authentic communities and therefore more resilient spaces.

  2. Socialization is paramount, which reinforces the value of community living. As we know some people went living with relatives or friends to overcome lockdown loneliness and we observed different ways of people staying connected, especially via video calls/virtual meetups during this period.
  1. Curated space & services. To cope with the new routines & activities enrolled during the pandemic period, there should be a service package offer that meets these needs, such as more on-demand services, incorporating online activities (virtual yoga), partnering with food/groceries delivery companies and health institutions and investing in well-being activities, mental health and skills development/sharing, just to name a few. Including a wide range of services that are valued by these targets is also a way to differentiate from the traditional rental market. On the other hand, spaces will have to readapt to the new restrictions, with design tricks and more rigid sanitary measures. Here are some ideas discussed:
  • Create micro-clusters within the community, instead of having rooms/studios, have accommodation solutions that allow smaller communities for friends, project teams, and even families in the same unit
  • Play with smaller spaces in large common areas – to accommodate smaller size gatherings but eye-watching at distance the larger community – adapt with furniture, plants, etc (social distance syndrome will definitely continue for some time)
  • Separate spaces for living and working, to maintain some mental sanity. As we know, we have witnessed a high increase in remote work, especially working from home (around 80%), so it is fundamental to have different and designated areas for each phase of the day
  • Invest in cleaning supplies and higher standards and frequency of cleaning services – more hands-free features/free touch automation to avoid touching doorknobs, light switches, taps, etc.
  • Outdoor space will be crucial the demand and need for an outside area and green/nature spaces are amongst the top 3 most important criteria when choosing spaces to share at home.


  1. Affordability and Flexibility. With so many professions impacted, price sensitiveness will increase as there is less purchase power. Also to compete with the potential lower prices in the traditional rental market, it is crucial that spaces deliver a value proposition that is affordable with services integration. Moreover, the pandemic uncertainty reinforces the importance of flexibility in Coliving models

As an area of opportunity,
we know there is a concern in giving back to the society/country where they are (the longer they stay the longer they care about this). So there is an opportunity to actually work on a give-back culture; measuring your coliving by the impact it has in the ecosystem, the social value it can create, can be a good starting point


To sum it up:

> The Nomadic lifestyle will continue, although at a slower pace as geographic mobility will reduce 

> Shared living solutions can represent a safe home when deciding where to stay, because people will be craving for these new ways of living, with connection

> Finally, Portugal can be very attractive in a post-pandemic scenario, as it is usually a destination to which digital nomads return, specially slowmads that choose to stay longer and also because Portugal gathers key conditions to meet the new needs: the advantage in geographic terms, the positive safety & security measures, integration policy towards foreigners, the convenience of services, just to name a few.

So we believe we are going in the right way to create true coliving concepts, based on long-term relationships, and hence more community-driven.

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