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Is Wellness Coliving the Key to Modern-Day Happiness?

Inside Haven Coliving—a communal living space with yoga and meditation classes—in LA's Venice neighborhood.

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Think dorm-style communal living is only for college kids? Think again. For those who hang their hats in wellness coliving spaces—where groups of people live (literally) on top of each other in repurposed residential properties in exchange for awesome amenities and greater affordability—adulthood has some similarities to collegiate life. These co-ops, which are popping up in major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington DC, seek to improve housing affordability and mental health by providing the camaraderie of a fellowship with the amenities of a posh health club for a fraction of market rental costs.

See also How Yoga Fosters Real Community + Relationships in a Digital World

And these are no frat houses with beer-soaked carpets. Wellness coliving is like the Wing or Workbar but for your permanent digs. At Haven Coliving in LA’s Venice neighborhood (new locations in Echo Park and New York City are set to open in the fall), members live in Instagram-worthy spaces with a wide range of activities such as on-site yoga and meditation classes; group jogs and beach trips; fireside chats; TED-style talks by wellness leaders like Finian Makepeace, cofounder of sustainable-soil nonprofit Kiss the Ground; as well as sound baths and full-moon circles.

“At the end of the day, modern life is tough for building community and connection,” says Haven CEO Ben Katz. “We decided to create an environment where people who are passionate about mindfulness, fitness, and wellness can spend a lot of time together.”

Wellness co-living spaces
Jobi Mason

Togetherness is plenty at Haven, where members—whose average age is 27—catch Zs in shared bedrooms in Japanese-style, double-decker sleep pods. While some may feel that’s too close for comfort, Haven residents say it’s a worthwhile learning experience. “Living here for a month is like one year of growth, and it never stops,” says DeAndre Sinette, a Haven resident and yoga teacher. At a cost of $995 per month (and two mandatory monthly hours of community service, which can be fulfilled by teaching a yoga class or cooking a meal, for example), residents pay a fraction of what they’d otherwise drop on rent and utilities. Plus, experts say there are social and environmental benefits, too, particularly for combating loneliness.

See also How a California Yoga and Wellness Co-Op Builds Community

Haven resident Atlás Blake went from sharing a house in LA with several not-so-clean roomies with whom he didn’t vibe to cohabitating in a space he loves with “super-positive, high-performing human beings”—and it’s had an impact on his overall happiness. “Most people are really craving positive relationships,” he says. “When you’re coliving, you have 96 housemates. If you are having a bad day, you come home, and people are cooking, watching TV, or taking yoga and meditation classes together.”

The common room at wellness coliving space Haven Coliving in LA's Venice neighborhood.

Indeed, research shows that community is vital to our well-being. According to a 2018 study by Cigna, nearly half of American adults (46 percent) feel alone, and two in five say their relationships lack meaning. In one recent meta-analysis of 148 studies gathered from around the world, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychology professor at Brigham Young University, compared subjects’ reported states of loneliness with their overall life expectancies. Her findings: Socially isolated adults have a 50 percent greater risk of dying from any cause within a given time frame than people with deeper connections.

To that end, coliving spaces offer the opportunity to interact with other like-minded individuals on profound levels, says sociologist Maureen O’Connell. In an age when social media often trumps face-to-face interactions, coliving offers an interesting alternative, she says: “It gives people the ability to truly connect and be inspired by each other’s energy, ultimately increasing quality of life.”

See also Jacoby Ballard: Building a Welcoming Yoga Community