First Week of the House
As mentioned earlier in the previous section, having your first week planned out and organized before the house kicks off is beneficial to setting the culture of social-ness and give people the opportunity to bond and connect with their house members.
Set the example for everyone else by being excited, present, and hanging out/co-working in the common area. Members will take what they see in the first week as the standard for what the weeks and months to follow will looks like.
Socials (dinner, activity, rooftop, hang out in the house, etc.) A plan for the cadence of the next socials & house meetings
On top of socials, having a house meeting where everyone sits down together is also crucial. This is your opportunity as organizers to go through the clarification document and answer any questions, as well as communicate any rules imposed by the property/Airbnb. If you have a “house manager” or representative from the property, be sure to pass their number and contact information along to the rest of the house members, so they can reach out in any issues as well rather than all going through you.
The house meeting is your chance to kick start a strong culture of accountability and respect—hold each other to standards as everyone is sharing the living space. You can start planning together any fun socials or activities that you want to do as a group (a bucket list) to get people excited about what they can look forward to.
The last thing that is helpful to clarify early on in the house what the cadence of future socials and house meetings will be. Clarifying when the house members can expect the next event is can be helpful for establishing the culture of dedicating time aside just for the house. While people can be busy and it can be hard to align schedules, giving house members time in advance to plan alleviates the planning hassle.
With most of the pre-house work done & besides any socials or finances, the day-to-day management of the house does not take too much time in a given day or week. You’ll also get the hang of what your house needs and how the community interacts with each other after the first few weeks of running the house. A few things that needed attention were:
Household Items/Restocking House Maintenance or pop-up questions/help
For Household Items, definitely utilize Costco to buy things that everyone in the house uses daily in bulk. Items like toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, common cooking items (oil, salt, pepper, etc.), alcohol are easy and cheaper to purchase together. If you don’t have a Costco membership, you can find someone that does or use Instacart to have it delivered (you can purchase items from Costco without a membership through Instacart)
Also be cognizant of fridge space, especially if lots of people are sharing one fridge. We put everyone in charge of their own grocery and food, and typically people buy their grocery a few days or a week at a time.
All coliving houses from my experiences struggle with cleaning — especially when a lot of people share the common area. Things pile up, people get lazy, and it can feel like cleaning doesn’t fall on any single person.
In the past, we’ve tried chore schedules (no one sticks to them), group cleaning times (hard to schedule and sometimes people won’t pull equal weight), security cameras (vibe kill), and more. In any of these situations, the work might fall unfairly on one or a few people.
The best recommendation I have is to just go straight to hiring a cleaner and splitting the cost with everyone in the house. We had a cleaner come in once a week for $200 (SF prices) which came out to $20/person/week. However, that meant our common areas were all clean, all the nooks and crannies that we typically wouldn’t clean were in great shape, and most uneven burden/responsibility did not fall on one person.
Lastly, we had a few house maintenance/pop-up help situations occur in the house, i.e. electricity issue, furniture issue, etc. Most were resolved quickly with extra hands and if the problem required more support, our house manager would send in the appropriate people to handle it. Those were more sporadic and everyone in the house had the house manager’s information so it was easy for them to contact for help even when my co-organizer & I had other things on our plate.
From the rent prices & finance structure you created earlier before the house, make sure that everyone is clear on what the expectations are with costs. (I think finances can be a touchy subject that can go south if not made clear)
Even if the exact dollar amounts are not clear with pending sponsors or actively working towards them, I’d say that it’s better to overcharge and then return money, rather than going back to people and asking to charge more. At Elysian House, we tried to be as transparent as possible throughout the process, letting everyone know what the maximum they would pay would be, and with each sponsor that we signed, how that would reflect in their monthly rent.
When to Collect Rent
The exact payment structure can also depend on your preferences. I charged rent on the last day of every month, with the week before that as a reminder & option for people to pay earlier. You can also ask people to pay their entire rent upfront if that makes you more comfortable, again it all depends on what works best for you.
This also comes down to what works best for you. I’d recommend having one organizer of the house manage all the finances (rather than splitting the payments between co-organizer). I accepted Venmo, PayPal, USDC, ETH, and Sol as payments since I was more flexible each month. Sometimes Venmo & PayPal can have individual transaction limits so just be sure of that.
Communal vs. Split Expenses
On top of rent payments, we would also purchase items like common use items and dinners together. Things like toilet paper, paper towels, oil/salt/pepper were easier to purchase together as a house. Additionally if we did dinner together as a whole house, we would record that on our communal budget. The rule was that the purchase was made for everyone in the house and agreed on by everyone. We would keep track of all communal items spent throughout the month and reimburse the people that made the purchases in one-go/lump sum rather than Venmo each and every single time.
Anything that was not for the entire house, or just in between a few house members, then it would be their responsibility to ensure all charges were settled on their own payment methods.
The general sentiment that we promoted was to Venmo or pay back everyone as soon as possible and not let any charges stand for a while.
Template Finance Tracker with Sponsorships:
Internal Community Building
The best way to build a strong community within your house is involve everyone as much as possible and have them bought in.
Delegate roles (social planning, sponsors, media, etc.) Put people in charge of planning at least one internal event for the house Create rituals and traditions (i.e. Sunday weekly dinners) Always be listening and present as an organizer, house members will always have ideas and feedback for how everyone’s experience can improve
At the end of the day, the community will be strong if house members get the opportunity to spend time with each other & deepen relationships, have spontaneous memories, and are excited about the house/brand/members.
Should a conflict ever arise between the house members, the organizers of the house should be the ruling decision makers. As stated in the expectations document earlier, as an organizer you should reserve the right to make final decisions and have the authority to terminate anyone’s stay without refund.
You should sync with your co-organizer and agree on a framework for how you want to resolve conflict, as this can very between groups and what is comfortable for them to intervene. This could look like:
Co-organizers make final decision based on the information at hand A common vote where everyone in the house can contribute anonymously or publicly Consulting a third party (advisor, mediator, etc.) Time away/separation from the house
If it is a dire situation that requires outside support and intervention, please contact the appropriate support immediately and have them involved.
For the most part, it is not the job of the co-organizers to fix the conflict between house members or the situation (unless it directly involves them) but rather create an outcome that keeps the best interest of the entire house in mind.
It’s also important to be proactively seeking feedback on all realms to ensure there is no pent-up emotions or feeling of passive aggressiveness in the environment.
Especially if your house is in a city that has lots of external events and happenings, there’s always the risk of having a COVID infection in the house. So be sure to have thought through a COVID plan for the house in the case that it does arise.
I typically make it very clear that people should let the house know if they are feeling unwell as soon as it happens, and be proactive in taking COVID tests. In order to maintain a safe and respectful environment in the house, no one should be hiding any information especially if it can negatively affect the rest of the house.
Make sure that a room can be arranged for the infected person to be alone and quarantine by themselves, and that similarly a bathroom can be dedicated solely to the infected house member. Everyone in the house is also encouraged to test and help clean down any infected areas. The rest of the house can also help bring in any food delivery directly to the infected housemate’s room door to ensure they stay in and don’t leave for however long is required of their quarantine (and a negative test result).
So long as you encourage a transparent and respectful environment between house members, you all can figure out a solution to the situation.
Coliving House Collaborations
If there are other coliving houses in the same city, there’s also opportunity to collaborate with each other. Whether that be having dinner together, visiting houses, or hosting an event together for the larger community, get to know the organizers for those houses and take the chance to do things together!
Building a Brand on Social Media
This depends on how much of a brand you want your house to be externally perceived. Some houses can just be friends living together without much of a “brand” or “social media” component, versus houses that build up an audience and brand can have new opportunities for distribution.
For tech, Twitter is the main platform that individuals use to get the word out or share ideas/happenings. Elysian House utilized Twitter from Day 1, posting about updates to our house, socials and recap images for what we were up to, as well as announcing events and attracting inbound for sponsorships and participation.
My best recommendations for building the brand of your house are:
Pick one platform that you know best (I don’t see that much merit being spread across multiple platforms unless you’re more established, just concentrate energy into growing one) Take photos and content of everything & collect content from the rest of the house members. You’ll never regret taking too many photos/videos, only the lack of it! Encourage your house members to share the house & talk about it online. The best social proof comes from people seeing others talk about the house (rather than it just coming from you all the time).
Collaborations also help get the name of your house out there! With every partnership we had with other companies or houses, that helped get our name out there, too.