We are delighted to start a new round of articles we call “Spotlight” as each piece is an interview with one of our members! We kick it off with My Blue Brick Coliving, one of our most recent addition from Spain!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? We are Blue Bricks Coliving and based in Spain, for the moment active in Barcelona and Valencia. In our portfolio, we have 150 rooms divided over 27 apartments and 1 building with 13 apartments, all based in the city centers. Although COVID was tough for all, our formula proved to be working even in the worst times possible and we scaled up from around 90 rooms in February to the 150 rooms where we are at now. This is also giving us the confidence and excitement to continue on this path towards focusing on having 300 rooms in 2021 when the wave turns up again.
How did you get interested in coliving in the first place? The partners of My Blue Bricks Coliving were all colivers before, and from experiencing the good AND especially the bad things that can happen in coliving, they decided to apply the formula themselves and taking coliving to a next level here in Spain. We believe very much in the exciting friendships, business ideas, and life long memories that are being made in coliving apartments. We want to provide this to the world of colivers.
How was My Blue Bricks Coliving “born”? Why this specific name? Our company was originally focused on flipping real estate properties (buying-renovating-selling). After having lived ourselves in coliving homes with friends and/or old colleagues, together with the growing attractiveness for colivers towards cities such as Barcelona in which living in the city center becomes more dense and with that more expensive, we decided to create the best out there including many services for reasonable rental prices. The ‘Blue’ in our My Blue Bricks Coliving name stands for confidence and trust.
How does My Blue Bricks “work”, tell us more about the concept and where it is located? I see you have several locations, how big is each space? Our coliving concept is as follows: we currently have 27 apartments and 1 apartment building with 13 apartments under contract in Barcelona and Valencia. Each of these properties are ‘normal’ apartments in the sense that normally a traditional family was living in the property. We typically search for minimal 4 bedroom apartments with multiple bathrooms to create most comfort for the colivers. We are now starting conversations with bigger, institutional capital firms to be buying buildings completely to design every centimeter of the space to apply coliving to perfection.
Who is the target group of My Blue Bricks and how long do people usually stay? Our target groups are expats, students/interns and national workers. Normally, our colivers are staying around 6 months up to a year, however, now with covid, the average stay is between 3–6 months.
How do you create a sense of community with people who tend to move around a bit? In the complete building we are managing since August, we started to focus a lot on the topic of creating a community. Previously, offering our services is making colivers just ‘content’, and we noticed that making the next step towards ‘having a sense of living in a coliving community’ can take this satisfaction of the tenants up a notch. We are currently organizing welcome events, language exchanges, work out and yoga sessions, among others.
How did you gather your “family”/ team ? Do you have staff in every house? We have community managers in our own team of employees rather than in-house. This is mainly caused by the fact that we expanded rapidly in our portfolio of individual apartments that normally have around 4 rooms.
Do you live in a coliving yourself? What is your personal experience with coliving? I always used to live in a coliving apartment myself until recently making the decision of living together with my partner. The My Blue Bricks Coliving personal experiences with coliving are amazing, especially because of the fact that you can decide to mingle whenever you want, and at the same time having the possibility to be more on yourself whenever you more feel like it too. It is like having the best of both worlds you can choose from based on your own preferences.
What has been the biggest challenge so far? The biggest challenge is starting to grow the portfolio. There is still quite some stereotyping towards coliving in that property owners are thinking of parties, devaluation, and problems when proposing the formula. Second is creating a strong team that allows to grow. Third is having systems in play that are crucial for scaling up the portfolio. A constant challenge is having capital in place to act upon opportunities and being able to find interesting properties when the capital is collected.
Any plans for the future? We want to go 10x our current size. In 2021, our goal is to double the size of our current portfolio from 150 to 300 rooms and in 2022 to do this exercise again to be moving from 300 to 1000 rooms across the whole of Spain.
What impact do you think coliving can have on society? Coliving is helping (younger) generations to live together in expensive places where they normally couldn’t have lived when needing to rent a whole place for themselves. Besides this, coliving can help people socially interact with each other naturally seeing the beauty in contact moments — an essential tool in the more and more technological, lonely lives people are living in the current day and age.
Do you believe coliving is here to stay? We don’t believe coliving is here to stay, we are sure that coliving is here to stay and get way bigger than it already is. The term coworking is already way more exploited, however, coliving is just starting to take off. If coliving is provided in such an attractive way with the right formula, it will become the ‘standard’ for everybody in the world.
If you want to know more about My Blue Brick Coliving make sure to check out their website and follow them on Instagram. If you are interested in Coliving Hub and what we do and offer as part of our membership, make sure to check out our website and join one of our events!
Coliving Hub is a non-profit organization, all membership income is reinvested in growing the network and putting the industry on the map.