What it means to be British has fascinated me for a long time. Anthropologists have spent careers trying to find answers, attempting to making sense of our insatiable desire to talk about the weather, our peculiar need to queue and our unexpected sarcastic comments.
Co-living perhaps goes against everything that Britishness stands for. We’re traditionally reserved and will rarely, if ever, engage with strangers. And getting to know our neighbours?! Not in a million years!
But the generation that is looking to live in London is perhaps defying what it means to be British. Technology has brought us all closer and the British social barriers that have long existed are, I’d argue, being eroded by the connectedness we experience through our online social networks. This societal shift makes co-living more and more appealing with Brits starting to adopt the values a lot of Americans do so well – sharing, openness and collaboration.
In Old Oak, our newly launched co-living community, we’re seeing more and more people buck this perception of ‘Britishness’. We’ve been open for two months and have a huge spectrum of diversity already. We have dancers and designers, entrepreneurs and engineers, chefs and CEOs. Our youngest resident is 18 and our oldest is 56. Co-living is an opportunity for people to benefit from being surrounded by a community from which they can draw different value, be it learn how to cook or start a business, attend a Reiki session or listen to a speaker.
For us, it’s the start of a long journey of learning and I have no doubt that British inhibitions will pop up every now and then. But I’m already seeing the basic need of human contact override British inhibitions and as a Brit myself, I’m excited to see how it develops into the future.