6 min read

Coliving vs. hostels - What is the difference?

Hostel accommodation, and coliving spaces are the most cost-friendly choices for those looking to stay longer than a few nights. But, the three exist for different purposes and thus have distinct operations and setups from one another.

Hostels are more of a middle ground between hotels and dorm rooms. They often provide bunks within shared rooms and the people who stay there have access to shared bathrooms and communal spaces. Hostel management teams sometimes put on events such as pub crawls or general entertainment outings, but the social aspect is far more community-led than management hosted. 

Of course, hotels and Airbnb’s are also alternatives, but they become fairly expensive over time and are rarely suited for long-term stays.

In this article, we’ll outline in detail the difference between hostels and coliving spaces, compare the benefits and drawbacks of each and help you to determine which option is best for you.

What are hostels for?

Hostels are dorm-style, shared rooms that have multiple beds in each room as well as shared bathrooms. Hostels share some similarities to hotels in that they have a reception area, often a dining area, a cooking area, cleaning services, WiFi and laundry. However, the amenities and level of service are significantly less than what hotels have on offer.

Paying guest accommodation

As you are sharing your space and all the facilities with other people, hostels are often quite cheap. Some hostels do also offer private rooms with private bathrooms at a higher price point, and those setups are more similar to staying in a cheaper hotel.

Unlike hotels, though, hostels do not have maid services, room service, spas, gyms, restaurants or business centers. They do, however, often have shared spaces akin to dorms where people can gather in front of a TV to play video games, sit together and play board games, strum a guitar or play a game of pool, for example. 

Hostels are best suited for travelers who are looking for short-term, cheap accommodation and do not mind sharing their space and facilities. 

Benefits:

  • Cost-saving for people looking for short or long term accommodation without breaking the bank
  • Access to a community within the shared space, as people that stay in hostels are often traveling alone and eager to form new social connections
  • Basic amenities, such as soap, toilet paper, instant coffee, access to video games, daily cleaning, lockers, and so on

Drawbacks:

  • Noisiness is an issue as you are often sharing a room with several other people who may not respect the hostel rules and are often out partying late
  • Limited security because even though you have access to lockers, you are still sharing space with unvetted strangers and thefts are unfortunately common 
  • Not always clean and sometimes hostels get outbreaks of bed bugs because of the constant flow of people coming and going in a small space

Where and how coliving can be an alternative?

Coliving exists in its own category. It is a mixture of PG, hostels, hotels, traditional leases and Airbnb’s and offers up the best of all of these worlds.

Coliving spaces are operated by businesses that rent out entire apartments or homes to coliving residents. The residents are provided with fully furnished, affordable accommodation within a like-minded, vetted community.

The residents are not presented with a rental agreement and are only expected to sign a flexible lease contract. The spaces correspond to a hotel, hostel or an Airbnb in the sense that people can move in or out freely. The residents are also not responsible for any of the utilities or maintenance within the unit, as they pay one fixed fee to the coliving space operators who handle everything for them.

From this one fee, residents enjoy access to free WiFi, streaming services, community events, a fully stocked kitchen, laundry services, basic amenities such as soap, toilet paper and perishables, a gym, spa, pool, and coworking space (if the unit has them), and unparalleled networking opportunities. 

coliving over roommates

Coliving spaces are ideal for all lengths of stay—short, mid and long-term. Most people who move into coliving spaces often stay for several months, if not longer. Coliving spaces offer the perfect alternative to a traditional lease as they feel like a home, rather than a hotel, and their community-hosted events are a fabulous way to combat loneliness and make connections in a new city. 

Some coliving spaces are also tailored to specific groups of people, such as entrepreneurs, startup teams, or artists. If you fall into one of those categories, you may prefer to live in a space with people that have similar professional ambitions to draw inspiration from. That said, coliving spaces are open to all types of people and best suited for those with an open mind who is eager to learn, share and grow with their new roommates. 

Benefits:

  • Cost-saving as coliving spaces offer both private and shared rooms and give you access to unique opportunities, such as a pool or a coworking space within your house or building, bundled into one fixed fee
  • An inspiring community of people with different backgrounds from all over the world that share similar community-minded values
  • Business networking opportunities that entrepreneurs or young professionals would otherwise need to source and pay for themselves
  • Incredible perks because the operation is being managed by a business, rather than individuals, who care first and foremost about supporting the community they serve
  • High security because everybody who comes into the house is vetted and understands the rules, people are much more likely to respect them. There are also lockers for people to keep their valuables in.
  • Flexibility is king as residents do not need to sign a lease agreement and only need to give a brief period of notice before they move out

Drawbacks:

  • It can be noisy at times due to group gatherings in a small space, but these events are always scheduled ahead of time and will never come as a surprise
  • Not every space is created equal because there are numerous coliving companies out there who operate based on different standards of living, which means it’s important that you vet each company thoroughly, read reviews and ask questions to ensure the space aligns with your needs

Which option is best for you?

The best option depends on what you’re looking for. Coliving spaces are usually optimal for longer-term stays, and hostels are often used by backpackers who are on the move and only need short-term accommodation. 

If you’re looking for a community and a productive workspace, coliving spaces are the top pick as they often come with a coworking area inside the unit. They are community-centric experiences and host many social gatherings each month. Hostels are also a great place to meet new friends, but the time you have with them is often short-lived. 

The best place to start is by evaluating your needs and goals and comparing them to what coliving spaces and hostels have to offer. They are all affordable and each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. 

If you do decide to go the coliving route, Coliving.com is the world’s largest verified coliving platform. We make it easy for you to search for your ideal coliving space in the city of your dreams. You can filter by cost, location, amenities, perks and more.

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