Living communities and the people who build them are unique, but they share many common threads: a mix of private and community spaces, a set of shared rules and a commitment to friendliness and warmth rather than the anonymity and awkwardness of a typical residential high-rise.
Changing the way people live together is an incredibly difficult but high-reward proposition; several groups have pushed the boundaries into the communities of the future. Here are a few:
Spread across the Georgia countryside, Serenbe first opened in 2004 and is now home to 400 residents. Described by The New York Times as an “experiment in New Urbanism,” Serenbe offers a mix of country homes and townhomes, as well as a 25-acre organic farm, coffee shops, farmers’ markets, art galleries and regular events. Far from being soulless exurban sprawl, Serenbe is redefining what a master-planned community can become.
What started as a hotel and resort has turned into an artists’ colony and way of life: #maderaslife has more than 11,000 posts on Instagram alone. Surfers, creatives and foodies escape for a week or months to the village in the Pacific hills of Nicaragua. Guests are invited to live together in shared rooms or book their own private cabanas, providing a variety of options for diverse lifestyles and budgets. The culture is all about sustainability, surfing and living at your own pace.
Adult summer camps are back in vogue, and many adults are making the summer camp circuit a part of their yearly routine. Perhaps the most well-regarded of the camps is Camp Grounded, a completely sober weekend without access to any form of technology. It has two unique rules: You can’t talk about work and you have to pick a new name.
Somewhat unique to living communities, Camp Grounded has robust corporate and team offerings; they’ve worked with companies ranging from Airbnb to Yelp to Tom’s Shoes to help their employees relax and disconnect.
YesNomads is a curated Facebook group of more than 500 global nomads who move fluidly from places like New York City to Los Angeles to London to Berlin to Tulum to Ibiza to Jackson Hole and back. Trust is high, rent is pretty reasonable and house swapping is encouraged.
Summit is invitation-only, but once you are invited you have a home away from home at Powder Mountain, where you are transported into a world of engaging speakers, organic meals and meaningful conversations. Originally started as a destination event series for entrepreneurs and creatives (and still most well-known for their Summit at Sea series), Summit is now building a permanent community in Utah dedicated to “innovation, entrepreneurship, arts, and altruism.”
These programs are creating their own variations of community — some free-spirited and open, others more focused and exclusive. But all of them are doing something outside the norm, appealing to people who have soured on the status quo and desire a more nomadic, more creative lifestyle.
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