There is no such thing as Perfect.
Fabienne shows her hand right away as she opens our May 2023 webinar with her partner Benoit. The two digital nomads, authors, and founders of Novo-Monde have recently invested in a space in the Swiss mountains and are planning to launch Alpiness in the fall.
The Swiss duo has been on the road for more than 10 years. They started as backpackers, saving money in "regular jobs" and exploring the world for months at a time. They caught the bug and quickly found ways to earn a living while traveling through their web development company and their traveling blog.
Despiting loving the freedom and constant learning, they also encountered all the downsides of the lifestyle: poor wifi, lonely Airbnbs... and it is while looking for connections that they first came across Coliving. Nine Coliving was their first experience. As prudent volunteers at first, they ended up staying as proper colivers and fell in love with the concept offering the best of both world: The ability to work while making meaningful connections.
"It was a revelation, this was what we had been searching for without knowing it"
From then on, they spent 50% f their time in similar places, finding inspirations in Galicia, Switzerland... meeting new friends and joking about opening their own one day.
Fast forward a few years and the day has come.
That part was easy, falling in love with an idea. Bringing that idea to life felt more like a walk through the desert Fabienne and Benoit shared with the audience. The road to coliving is paved with many challenges. Mostly due to the fact that this setup is still very unknown in many countries.
The first challenge was personal. Where to settle? Despite the high cost of living, establishing themselves "at Home" made a lot of sense to the couple: "we know the language, how things work, we have connections, the nature is breathtaking and well, cheese".
They of course had a list of criteria, or Santa's wish list as they call it:
- big enough for12-14 guests (500m2 minimum)
- surrounded by mountains
- public transportation access
- french speaking
- small village
- welcoming municipality
- within budget
But instead of getting too attached to that list from the get go, Fabienne and Benoit flipped things around and started approaching organisations and regions instead. They met with mayors and asked "How can we help?"
For us, it's not just about having a space it is about having an impact on the local community
They wanted their project to support a village that suffered from depopulation, lack of all-year-round tourism, and for the coliving to bring life and business to the area. Despite their good intentions, working their way through the regulations and paperwork of municipalities and banks was a "tour de force" which, in insight, forced them to really define their vision, mission, and business plan.
They eventually found the "perfect" place in a 300 inhabitants' village in the mountains. A house that has had many lives already. As a post office, a restaurant and a bar but had been dormant for the past 12 years, probably waiting for Benoit and Fabienne to find their way "home".
The plan is now to renovate throughout the summer with the help of digital nomads they met along the way. The kitchen in particular, is in need of love as it will be the heart of the Home. Something they have learned throught their numerous coliving experiences.
"The more expensive the country the bigger the kitchen needs to be" Fabienne jokes. "We expect a lot of people to be cooking at home".
In the fall they plan to open their "Version 1" (talking like true developers), find their routines, and start making connections.
Summer 2024 is the goal for a fully operational and renovated Alpiness experience.
And we wish them all the best, impatiently waiting to see it all with our own eyes!