Forget the coffee shop: seven reasons to work from a global co-living house

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Moya Crockett
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Thanks to technology, the days of being confined to an office are numbered.

Freelancing is on the rise - especially among women - and more and more businesses are realising that they don’t necessarily need their employees to be at work to be working. According to the Office of National Statistics, the number of people that now work from home (or from a coffee shop) is at the highest since records began. Other research predicts that 60 per cent of office-based employees will regularly work from home by 2022.

So now that we don't have to be in the office, what's stopping us from heading abroad? The stress of finding a new place? Leaving our friends behind? 

The team behind new start-up Roam think they have the answer: a network of communal living spaces. Roam offers its residents a lease that allows them to move from place to place – not for an Airbnb-style holiday, but to really live and work. By combining beautiful, spacious shared living spaces with the ability to hop from country to country, Roam hopes to alleviate the loneliness that can come with the freedom to work wherever you want. 

The company currently has shared living locations in Bali, Miami, and Madrid, with accommodation in Buenos Aires and London coming later this year.

Here are seven reasons we're already dreaming about roaming free...

1) The locations are pretty special

The Roam-Bali house is tucked away in Ubud, the surf town made famous by Eat, Pray, Love. Roam-Miami is in Little Havana, the city's historic Cuban neighbourhood, minutes from the iconic Wynwood arts district. Roam-Madrid, meanwhile, can be found between the districts of Malasaña and Chueca: vibrant, non-touristy neighbourhoods with great nightlives.

The locations were chosen for their year-round gorgeous weather, as well as their relative proximity to economic centres - meaning that time differences won't make it too tricky for freelancers or remote workers who need to contact clients in other major cities. Stay in Madrid, for example, and you're only one hour ahead of colleagues in London. 

2) The accommodation is jaw-dropping

If the phrase “communal living” conjures up thoughts of grimy student squats or insecure property guardian set-ups, think again.

The Bali-Roam house is a converted, eco-friendly boutique hotel, with a jewel-bright pool, rooftop co-working space that overlooks the island, and an open space for events like nightly talks and yoga. In Miami, residents live in the city’s oldest continuously operating hotel, a lovingly restored Victorian boarding house built in 1908, with a swimming pool and communal lawn.

Madrid-Roam, meanwhile, is practically a palace: a huge, glittering building originally built for the Marques de Villamagna in the 1870s, and operated by the Vatican until last year. Some of Madrid’s top designers helped modernise the space, while preserving intricate period details such as the coffered ceilings. 

3) You've got your own personal space

While all Roam houses have a co-living element, you can sneak off for a bit of solitude whenever you fancy – and forget any worries about communal showers. All residents have their own private bedroom and bathroom, chicly decorated and fully furnished with a queen or king-sized bed, large desk, chair and wardrobe. There’s even a cleaning service for your sheets and towels. 

4) But it's easy to meet new people

Each Roam location has shared communal areas and a co-working space, so you can meet people as soon as you arrive. Dozens of people live in every location – more than your average house-share, but not so many that it feels like university halls. The aim is to allow newcomers to a city to meet as many people as possible.

“If you go from location to location, it always takes a couple of weeks to feel at home,” Roam’s founder, Bruno Haid, tells Fast Company. “That's something that we want to make sure is done in a very short time frame. You can literally show up in Bali and you live with people who have been there for a long time, which means you have everything you need to navigate the local community, to know what's where, what can I connect to.”

And while it might sound like the kind of thing that will primarily appeal to Silicon Valley whizzkids and Instagram entrepreneurs, Roam is actively trying to attract more than the usual globe-trotting techie crowd. It’s meant for people of all ages. “It’s not just for the young single freelancer,” says Haid. Some of the first residents included a women’s rights activist working on issues in the Middle East, a playwright, and the founder of Berlin’s first co-working space.

5) The communal space is top-notch

Like other communal living experiments, the Roam team believe that shared living space = better living space. Instead of spending money on dozens of cheap kitchens in multiple studio flats, for example, the same budget can be poured into an incredible shared kitchen. The communal living rooms are beautifully furnished, and Roam-Bali and Roam-Miami both have shared BBQ areas outside. 

6) You can actually get to work

Roam is aimed at people with work to do, so you can get down to business as soon as you arrive. The tranquil co-working spaces are fully equipped with wi-fi, and because your co-residents will also likely be busy, you don't have to worry about being disturbed while you crack on.

7) Rent is the same wherever you are

Forget rent hikes depending on the area. No matter which Roam accommodation you stay in, you can book for a week for $500 (£345), or $1,800 (£1242) for a month. But the start-up prefers that people stay longer, believing that community is something lacking in modern city life.