Successful coliving: finding the right fit
Coliving is seeing a huge boom and it seems that every flat share or micro apartment is being rebranded to hop on the trend. The choices are dizzying and often times overwhelming. It is therefore really important for residents to be very clear about what exactly they should look for when choosing their future home. Furthermore, with the pandemic many of our residents are choosing a room without having a chance to visit the house in person. Once you have checked on the usual criteria of location, price and lease terms, we have established a checklist we recommend for choosing your room wisely.
1. Who will my housemates be?
Maybe you are new to the city, or have come out of a relationship and want to make new friends, people choose coliving for a variety of reasons but they all want to get along with their housemates. If your future House Manager isn’t asking you about yourself – how can they know if you’ll get along with your future housemates? Be skeptical of a house that lets you sign up online without getting to know you. If you are a professional maybe you don’t want to live with students who have a different schedule to your own. Also check for languages. If you only speak English and German, you might feel a little left out in a house full of French speakers.
Tip: Ask what length of time most residents have been living at the house, high turnover is a red flag and disrupts community bonds.
2. Cleaning and maintenance
Most coliving homes outsource the cleaning and it isn’t done by the residents. If you are the one who ends up cleaning the piles of dirty dishes left in the sink and it makes you grumpy, choose a house with a frequent cleaning service eg twice a week for groups larger than 5. You might also check who takes out the garbage and brings the bottles to the bottle bank.
Tip: its not nice to find strangers walking into your room to clean or do maintenance, find out if there is a fixed maintenance and cleaning team for your house and how long they have worked there
3. The Wifi
Many of us are working from home during Covid so the speed of the wifi network is important. What was once a good enough connection when everyone was at the office, is no longer adequate when everyone is working from home on zoom and teams. You need a good ratio of people/ speed. At Morton Place we have 24 hour support for our wifi, and a back up line should the main wifi source go down, which does happen from time to time in a big city.
Tip: If you see wifi boosters in the electricity sockets of your future house and there are more than 5 people living there – chances are the wifi is not going to be strong enough. If you are really worried – ask for a speedtest done a laptop – a mobile phone doesn’t give an accurate reading.
4. The Kitchen
Often the most well used part of the house, and never more so then during covid times, all of us are spending more time in the kitchen then ever. So how many people do you share a refrigerator with? How about the freezer? The dishwasher? Do you have a clear, private space to keep your food? If you like to bake, is there an oven, what does it look like inside? If you like a tidy kitchen, have a look in the sink and in the refrigerator to see if your hygiene standards are met, find out who cleans the kitchen and how often. At Morton Place we clean the common areas twice a week by the same cleaning crew for many years.
Tip: if you see residents having to lock up their food or storing it in their bedrooms this isn’t a good sign of trust between the housemates.
5. The Room
Other than the general look and feel – what should you look for in your room? Does your bedroom have a secure lock which you alone can open? What is the bathroom situation? You might find some “bathrooms” are nothing more than a sink and a shower partitioned off in a corner of your room where the steam fills up your bedroom, and the toilet is down the hall and shared with other housemates. A Morton Place our houses are purpose built, so our bathrooms are fully equipped and ensuite, no sharing.
Tip: check the closet space and if you have more clothes than can fit, ask about secure storage options.
6. The tour
Pre recorded online visits are great for figuring out the layout of a house but after a few years a house can look tired. If you can’t visit your future residence in person, ask for a live video tour. This allows you to witness whether the house is as advertised and see the house in its lived in state. Check the garbage situation, the sink situation, the messages on the blackboard. All will give you a feel for the life being lived in the house right now. At Morton Place we invest a lot of time and effort in taking pictures each bedroom so future residents have a good idea of what to expect when they walk through the door. In fact one of the most often repeated phrases by visitors is “wow – it looks just like on the website”.
Tip: If you don’t choose to rent from an established coliving company, be doubly careful, we have heard our share of horror stories of online fraud. When in doubt, don’t send your money.
Relax and have fun!
Cohousing is a terrific way to make life long friends during your time in Brussels. Give yourself a few weeks to settle into the routine of your new house. Investing time in making sure you have made the right choice at the outset will save you a lot of hassle from having to move from a substandard room to a better, more comfortable housing option.