Coliving: is the housing of tomorrow born?

Rue Hoche, in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, is a house that, at first glance, looks like any in the neighborhood. And yet, it deserves our attention. We ring. A sort of relaxation area immediately catches the eye of the visitor: two armchairs, green plants and an electric scooter take pride of place. We are inside a Colonies residence, a coliving space, Porte des Lilas, in Paris. Since mid-March, seven people have put their suitcases in this 200 square meter residence. The start-up – which raised 11 million euros at the start of the year – promises to reinvent the housing experience thanks to this concept of collective housing. A way of living from the United States, which consists of living in a private space but in community, by sharing common spaces.

This Tuesday morning, not a cat in the house: the seven tenants have deserted the premises, all work or go about their business. The order is obvious: in the living room, there is not an object lying around, the books are lined up, the sofa cushions ironed and the dust absent. It feels like an advertisement for Airbnb accommodation. Justine Aurian, “experience manager” at Colonies is there. It is she who manages the residence, the tenants and the relations between the “inhabitants”. At the time of the inauguration of the place, she had even organized “the welcome party, an evening to get to know each other and break the ice, without waiting “. With a smile, she shows the place. It is not the first time, not the last, either. Because in general, when a new tenant is ‘settles in, she comes to greet him and explain “how the house works”.

Selection of tenants

To be part of the Colonies community, tenants are selected by Justine. After receiving between 150 and 200 applications, she went through everyone’s “files”. To apply, you must complete an online questionnaire and share your Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn profile. Useful when you come from a foreign country, when you have neither a French guarantor nor a permanent contract.

The young woman then called the first interested. For about twenty minutes, Justine asked her interlocutor a few questions: what is her professional activity, where does her interest in co-living come from, why do you want to be part of the Colonies community? This is how she identified the personality of the potential tenant

and whether or not he accepted his candidacy. A decision which depends on the motivations to “live together”, “because we do not choose coliving to save money, we adhere to the culture of the collective”, translates Matéo Sossah, one of the residents.

The thirty-something lived abroad for four years. Back in Paris, he started looking for a furnished apartment and came across the Colonies ad. He knew the concept of co-living, wanted to give it a try and escape the administrative paperwork. At first, he thought it would be an intermediate solution: “I was not taking too many risks, the notice is two weeks”. For 1,200 euros all inclusive, he lives in a studio equipped with a bathroom, WC and access to the terrace, the centerpiece of summer. And for a classic studio and “shared spaces, including a movie theater”, you need 850 euros per month.

A community on the move

Motivation is not the only criterion to be part of the adventure. Because Colonies relies on the diversity of profiles. “Here, live people who are between 25 and 35 years old, rather of French nationality, even if 30% of the requests come from foreigners. There is an actress who writes a web series, a crazy management controller from Asia, a sociologist who works on questions of town planning, employees in CDI and freelance. A bit of everything “, she informs. This “melting pot” brings together people who would not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. People likely to get along, who could become friends, or even more so.

“Today, in cities like Paris, young working people suffer from loneliness. With Colonies, we want to recreate social ties,” explains Amaury Courbon, one of the co-founders. “We receive requests every day, proof that this model corresponds to the expectations of young people, active and urban”. With a waiting list as long as an arm, the community is constantly renewing itself – you can join the residence for a month or for two years – tenants leave, others settle. A rhythm that appeals to the oldest: “This new blood revives the exchange”, Justine notes.

Minimize the risk of conflicts

The visit continues. The kitchen area is quite spacious and has two refrigerators, “so that everyone has enough space”. And also to avoid conflicts. Because the start-up is committed to “remove everything that could divide tenants, all the friction linked to cohabitation”. At Colonies, everything is designed to make life easier for tenants, so that they can enjoy life together, without asking any questions. “We provide small consumables (laundry, toilet paper …) which replaces the common pot of the shared apartment, which often poses a problem. And we take care of the cleaning of the shared spaces”, describes theexperience manager.

Rules of co-living have also been planned. For example “do not leave your personal effects lying around in shared spaces” or “respect the quiet hours between 11 pm and 8 am “. Rules that can be broken, if they do not disturb other tenants.

Back to the kitchen. “There, where they very often meet to cook together,” says Justine, who follows the news of the residence, via a WhatsApp group. If there is the slightest problem, a tenant sends a message to the group, “it’s faster than an email”, comments Matéo. Then, Justine intervenes within 48 hours. Even if one or two people have taken over the house, Justine Aurian is never far away. If the WhatsApp conversation drops out, she doesn’t hesitate to restart it. “There is nothing intrusive in this practice. This conversation serves above all to unite the tenants”, she justifies.

Build the best living experience

To understand how tenants live and build the best living experience, Justine regularly organizes telephone meetings in “one-to-one”. And if they ask, “I negotiate advantages for them. For example a preferential rate for a subscription to a gym”. Matéo joined the house a few months ago and so far everything is going well. “Obviously, as in any group, we have preferences for certain people. But, we are adults, we have all lived in roommates, so we know how to live together,” he illustrates.

Coliving still has a bright future ahead of it. Colonies built in inner Paris and developed abroad, particularly in Switzerland. Station F, the start-up incubator has just inaugurated an 11,000 square meter residence in Ivry-sur-Seine. Bouygues, Vinci or BNP have launched several projects in Paris and elsewhere. And in the United States, Common, one of the pioneers of coliving, has developed a new concept: coliving for families.