On October 30th, I set off on the Qwerky European Coliving Tour 2017. Having read hundreds of articles and researched the European coliving space extensively, I felt I had the knowledge. But nothing can replace seeing the coliving spaces with your own eyes so I decided I had to jump on a plane and go check them out! I was born in England so I know Europe like the back of my hand. Imagine the 50 US states being different countries, each with their own currency, language and traditions. That is Europe. You are totally spoiled and air fares are much more reasonable due to the multiple budget airlines operating. You can hop around easily using planes, trains, subways, ride sharing services and bikes.
SAN → LHR
After flying 10 hours east from San Diego, California, the first stop was London, England. The Collective has planted its flag firmly in the ground and created a micro-community in the industrial area of Willesden Junction in north-west London. When you look on a map of the nation’s capital, it seems strange to choose this spot to open a coliving community. But when you approach the building perched on the edge of the Paddington Branch canal, it all becomes clear.
The Collective has crammed 546 rooms (mix of ensuite rooms with shared living area, single ensuite rooms and one bedroom apartments) into a high rise building and fostered its own coliving community. They currently have around 570 residents. There is almost everything under one roof including a restaurant, a co-working space and a gym. Each level has a shared master kitchen, there is a laundry room that doubles up as a social hangout spot and a secret garden where you can get your calm on after the chaos of central London. What I really liked was the well thought out design for not just the bedroom but also the micro kitchen and breakfast bar. It reminded me of Japan: everything in its right place with a degree of minimalism. The co-working space on the ground floor was well designed complete with DJ booth and bar for events. My tour was quick but thank you to Roberto for squeezing me into their busy schedule. Overall, the vibe was good and I am keen to see how they progress in London as competitors pop up.
LHR → CPH
My next destination was wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen (or København as the locals call it) — the capital city of Denmark. My schedule was very tight which meant I hopped across for less than 24 hours. Copenhagen was the world’s first bicycle city and there is a strong sense of community in this Scandinavian hub. See below photo showing the multi-tier bike stands right next to Central Station.
Nesthouses 21 entrepreneurs who are “creators, builders and dreamers of tomorrow”. It was difficult to find their location but this caused something interesting to happen. A guy was coming out of the building that I thought was the right one and I told him I couldn’t find Nest. He didn’t know where it was either but asked me if I had a phone number for anyone in the community. I said yes and before I knew it, he had punched this number into his phone, given it to me to make the call and said “I’ll be back in a minute, I have to go get my bike.” I don’t know many places in the world (Japan is one of them) where people would be so trusting of a complete stranger. My theory is that because education is free for life for Danes, crime is not considered in most people because they are simply intelligent enough to do more meaningful things than steal phones. Once I had made the call and given the phone back to this true gentleman, my connection Frederik emerged from a door and I was in!