The Co-living phenomenon



On this episode of the wisinomad Dialogue Series, we are joined by the CEO and co-founder of Coconat, a project she has been devoted to for a long time. Coconat is a mix of co-living and co-working space, as well as what Julianne calls a workation retreat.

It operates from a village just outside city of Berlin, attracting people seeking a break from hustle and bustle of a city like Berlin.  


Coconat gets  a variety of people walking through its doors. Julianne notes that they do get people who come out on company retreats, novelist and people just seeking a break from busy cities. They do also get a fair share of international visitors who work on a variety of problems and those tend to stay longer.

And as a coworking space, everyone is working on a cool project, and she finds time to share one of the many successes out of the space. A member of the Coconat community obtained a grant for a program for people who would like to move from the city to the countryside.


This also forms a core part of Coconat’s ethos which is aimed at regional and local development. Julianne notes that they will be adding more programs aimed at the local community through technology and education.

Research and testing is already underway for the kind of programs fulfilling this mission. Digital literacy would be especially good since most of the local tends to be more farmers with no university education.


“Big city coliving aims to address the challenge of housing shortages typical of huge cities, and is geared at people who want to live there. Companies like WeLive and The Collective are examples…..”


Julianne has been working on the Coconat project for over 6 years, and so has come to witness how the coliving space has evolved. She distinguishes coliving into 2 distinct categories: big city coliving versus destination coliving. Big city coliving aims to address the challenge of housing shortages typical of huge cities, and is geared at people who want to live there.

Companies like WeLive and The Collective are examples. Coconat is more of a destination based coliving community and even within that community, it is distinct because it is not in an exotic destination like Bali or Colombia. It is in a small community which is very rural, and attracts people not planning to spend a long time–on a slow travel, or purely digital nomads, looking to rest for a while.


Coconat is unique in that people who show up are not on vacation, but are working and keep normal hours. They find community as other people are doing the same, without the pressure of being asked about doing visits and do tourist things. No one feels bad if they spend a day on the computer because everyone is working, but they still get to plan fun events.


Being off the beaten path, in a small village unlike Chiang Mai or Medellin, most of the people that show up already know about the place, so they rarely have to turn away random travelers or backpackers. They do still have to turn away  people who want to hold events like weddings, birthdays or parties as it goes for what they stand for.

Cost is perhaps prohibitive to backpackers, due to having an environment set up for people who want to work–high speed internet connection and office supplies–something a hostel wouldn’t offer.


As the first coliving community in Germany Julianne is heartened to see similar ventures now pop up. However she recognizes that Coconat is the only company focused in the context of rural development and new ways of working.

Coliviing offers  some respite to the solitude of being a digital nomad, as they get to meet people living a similar life. They support each other professionally and recognize places like Coconat as a way to meet other people live a similar lifestyle.


And with regard to the potential for coliving in Africa, Julianne believes that as travel becomes easier and cheaper more people are going to be exploring Africa. This is based of her assessment of people in forums seeking new experiences. More especially, the kind of energy and drive she’s seen in African entrepreneurs makes her believe that this is going to be a reality. She personally looks forward to visiting herself, as well as recommending that other people look up programs like wisinomad


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