Coliving & Coworking: Building Communities

Home. There must be a stronger word to describe this place, one that will be (re)invented soon. Much like “google” became a verb and “xerox” a noun, the word “roam” might as well evolve and be used in our everyday language to describe an alternative type of home. And that doesn’t have to be a static place that requires us to commit to a lease or mortgage for years.

The concept of coliving is not new but Roam has perfected it, creating balance between privacy, social activities, work, travel, and life. “So it’s not hippie but hipster,” as much as I hate labels, a friend defines it quite accurately. “Come stay in Miami with us, for a day, a week, or forever.” A day is not enough and forever seems too long, so I choose to try it for a week. Coming back from Miami, I now regret that choice. I should have chosen “forever“.

Mad to (co) live, mad to talk

Rarely in life, we meet souls who are so fiery that even a short encounter with them enlightens us for life. Somehow, Roam has created a natural habitat for that kind of people: passionate, unapologetic, ever-burning, free. These “roamies” are the very personification of Jack Kerouac’s quote:

…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn…

I feel the great energy of my new temporary home as soon as Aura opens the front gate for me and I enter the garden. “I don’t want to wake you up. I will land at 7am but I will hang at a cafe until a more social hour,” I tell her before I arrive but she insists for me to come straight from the airport. We are both adamant in our efforts to make the other one feel more comfortable. In the end, she wins and so I arrive very early and we say a sleepy hello at Roam. This new air that puffs the curls makes my voice sound heavy. The curiosity to explore is stronger than the need to sleep so I don’t spend much time in the room. I can already feel the great presence here, even when everybody is asleep.

 

A photo of Orchids at Roam
Orchids are attached to the trees in the garden. A small but important detail that speaks a lot about how well-maintained this place is.

I am in Miami but my strong drive to spend time getting sun-tanned at the beach suddenly dies. I would rather get to know the inner world of each of the incredible individuals who co-live here. A handful of them will influence me. Effortlessly, without even knowing it. They will challenge me to think and feel better, change me into a slightly improved version of me.

“Ah, this is not an interesting story…” Nevermind, tell me. “I actually started as an intern…” Dane, Roam’s Co-Founder, is humble about his accomplishments. An admirable quality that very few people possess. But just this one sentence he tells me is a short story on its own. “I actually started as an intern.” Instead of always aiming for a better-sounding label, we can just choose to be fascinated by an idea and let everything else align, without having expectations. Take risks and trust the unknown. And then maybe something great happens.

And if five years from now my brand becomes very successful and sustainable, it would partially be because of one simple line Dane said to me: “You don’t have to give your ebook for free! A lot of people would actually pay for it.” Oh… So I can be something more than a struggling writer? This actually makes sense. It was as if I was hit with an apple and suddenly discovered gravity. Or maybe that was the Jenga block that hit my head when we played that game. We all have different realities. Letting them collide helps us learn new things about ourselves and our potential. It is my favorite way to grow and I am so glad to be in a place where all these realities co-exist. I already feel like I’ve fallen into an Awesomeness Super Collider.

A photo of Dane Andrews
“All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together.” — Jack Kerouac

“And now it’s time for a dance break!” Elizabeth has the superpower to be the most distracting co-worker. It is hard to talk to her and do work at the same time. I am drawn to her vibe. She carries herself as if she secretly levitates three times per day. The more time I spend with her, the more I feel how her presence is empowering me. “You have to feel pain… it’s the only way to change something. Really feel pain.” And then start a positive psychology coaching business. Sometimes we just need to embrace the discomfort of being in the comfort zone and transform it. Taking her advice and not resisting unhappiness makes me appreciate my own power. From now on, “regular dance breaks” is my new philosophy.

 

A photo of Elizabeth
“I have lots of things to teach you now, in case we ever meet…” — Jack Kerouac

Buying a pair of pink glasses with a pineapple pattern can be another way to boost productivity. Or our silly side. Every community needs at least one witty person to lighten the mood. Roam has plenty but David is something special. On the surface, he is a hilarious guy who seems to have a pretty easy life and a relaxed tech job. But then he tells me his personal story of how his mother suddenly got sick of cancer and he had to help her recover, or how hard it was to go through a divorce. His story reminds me of the Japanese proverb, “Nana korobi ya oki” — fall seven times, stand up eight. And then put a pink shirt on it.

A photo of David
“Because he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars…” — Jack Kerouac, On The Road

I feel so good staying at Roam, that I only go to the beach once, within my whole week in Miami. There was a lot on my bucket list: South Beach, jet-skiing, exploring the city and its restaurants, people-watching, taking photographs. Forget lists. I just want to be here, rather than do. “We are human beings, not human doings,” my new friend Ader replies when I ask him what he does for a living. He just lives, owning his “touch of gray”-colored hair.

A photo of Ader
“Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.” — Jack Kerouac

TJ, Aura, Loren, Damian, Zach, Nick, Flo, Kate, Cameron, Mircea — each of these new friends influences me in a way. A home is nothing without family. And a strong community can create bonds that are almost as strong as the blood ones. The true beauty of this community is in its diversity of ages and backgrounds. And yet it is not for random people. Roam is not a monthly expense, it is an investment in connections with individuals who enrich us on a deeper, personal level.

 

A photo of Aura
“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” — Jack Kerouac. And remember to look yourself in the mirror, telling yourself how beautiful you are.

 

Co-work somewhere awesome

“Internet should be like water. If you go to a hotel and there is no running water, it’s unacceptable. It should be the same with having access to fast Internet,” Dane explains and I agree with him. A slow connection can ruin the coworking experience which is why Roam has invested in the fastest Internet there is. But being all-consumed by the computer screen is also not the point. Spending most of my time getting to know the people around me supercharges my creativity for weeks to come. I would advise anyone who comes here for a month to invest at least a few days in taking it easy and making friends.

A photo of the Roam blackboard that reads "Work Somewhere Awesome"
We all move at our own pace. It is great to feel free to express myself without fear of judgment. I can be lazy, hard-working, loud-laughing, outgoing or anti-social when I want to. I have the liberty to choose when to be in the coworking space, in my room, or to gather a group for a fun activity. Nothing is strictly scheduled or mandatory. And yet there are plenty of social activities I join — movie night, going to a sick nightclub inside a taco shop, exploring the artistic Wynwood neighborhood, dining out.

Coworking is not just about sharing desks. It’s about sharing ideas and getting feedback or finding the right talents to collaborate with. Having a social setting and watching others work hard for this lifestyle adds value to my motivation. Much more value than what I get from working in my bed with messy hair and pajamas.

A photo of Damian
“The best teacher is experience and not through someone’s distorted point of view” — Jack Kerouac. And Damian is one talented experience creator.

 

A photo of Roam Miami
Sometimes I just love distracting people when they work. “Hey! Are you busy? I need you for a minute… Can you walk through the pathway and make this photograph a little more interesting?”

Soon, the world and its governments will catch up with the location independent lifestyle and it will become the norm. But until then, the remote workers will be the forward-thinking bearers of change. We are the ones who have to fight for visa-free movement and work, global citizenship, less bureaucracy, and recognition of virtual workspaces. Roam are breaking into a market that is still small but has an enormous potential. Members can co-live in Bali, Miami, and Madrid, all of which have a familiar “roamey” feeling. Buenos Aires and London are coming soon. In just a few years, I envision that Roam will have a long waiting list across all six continents.

And then I ended up feeling “roamsick”…

Every story about Roam should come with a warning that says “highly addictive”. My coliving experience made me ask myself why can’t I do this for life. Where has coliving been all this time? If others can have this, why can’t I? “You need to really feel pain… To change something…” I finally found a place I belong to, a “roam”. And this ruined me. I came back to my house that now seems dull, unfamiliar, empty. My so-called home country doesn’t excite me anymore. I guess I am just feeling “roamsick” — a feeling that only gets stronger in time. Until the next hello.

Originally published on Great Nomad

Make this life a wonderful adventure.

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