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Inside the head of a coliver: the decisicion-making process on extending one's lease

How does a coliver decide whether to stay in your coliving space after his initial lease ends?

I had an interesting discussion with an operator recently on overall community experience. And here is what came out.

If you put yourself in the mind of a collider that has to decide whether s/he should stay at your coliving space or whether s/he should find his/her own space, then this will be the rationale behind the decision-making (in exactly that order of relevance):

  1. Price point: does it make sense for me to stay in this coliving space financially, compared to other market options, especially if I enter self-organized flat-sharing or get my own place?
  2. Product: do I have enough privacy and comfort, such as private shower and intimate space?
  3. Community: did I get a sense of belonging in the coliving space that will make me want to stay here?

Here are a few thoughts that I want to share to this thought process model:

  1. It’s true that price point will most probably be the first data point to look at when making a decision. If renting a space nearby by your own or entering a flatshare reduces costs by half (or even just a quarter), then the coliver might leave. 
  2. This is true especially if the coliver used the coliving space as a landing pad, meaning living at the easy-access coliving space in order to find his/her own accommodation.
  3. If a coliver enters a coliving space with the intention to eventually move out after a few months, then s/he won’t be actively engaged in the community. Hence, the overall community experience won’t be extraordinary, and thus another reason for why community is ranked as third place on the decision-making thought process.
  4. Most people care more about their fundamental needs (“I need my own bathroom because I cannot share my closet for hygienic reasons”) than their higher emotional needs (“I want to be surrounded by people that can take care of me when I don’t feel well”). That might be unfortunate for some, but the reality for many. Hence “product” is higher ranked than community.

Now the question that I always ask myself is: can the communal experience be so strong that 1) it makes up for a higher price point and 2) is a stronger argument than both price point and product combined?

I know that it IS possible.

Take the example of Podshare in California, in which residents have zero privacy as they share rooms without any visual cover of their beds. I met one guy who got married and remained living there, because he found his tribe of belonging.

Another example at Haven, where residents share rooms as well (sleeping in pods with a curtain for visual privacy), and where one resident got engaged with another member. While his partner decided to move out, he remained living there because of the product (movie room, gym, rooftops, etc) and communal experience (a curated community of people who are deep into wellness).

Those are outliers, I know. But examples don’t have to be that extreme and still be valid.

When I used to run my coliving space in Bali, people were willing to pay up to twice as much as if they would get their own space because they wanted to live with us - to be surrounded by us, to be fuelled by our energy, to take part of this collective creation.

Or when OpenDoor offers price points that are at market rate, yet also a communal experience that is based on unity, then residents tend to stay for 1.5+ years.

Witnessing the power of a strong resident experience first-hand makes me therefore conclude this blogpost with two main foods for thought:

A. Investing in facilitating true community and a strong experience will create an emotional bond to your coliving space and increase the retention rate.
 

B. While it is really hard to create such as strong experience that “community” ranks higher than price point and product in decision-making for colivers, it can at least balance the other ones out. In other words, the decision-making process isn’t anymore “price point > product > community” but “price point = product = community”.

And so the next question: how to build true community and what does it mean?

I'll let you pounder on this one and we'll discuss it in the next blogpost.

Have a good one,

Gui

PS: What are your thoughts?

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