Even in this age where information is so readily available, moving to a new country and a city can be challenging. As an American, I have personally made a few moves in my life. Most recently, I moved to Copenhagen from San Francisco on request of my past employer Tradeshift, as they were in need of good product talent in their European headquarters. The idea of doing a stint in Europe, where I had only traveled for handful of days in the past, intrigued me. Not only was it a great career step to be in charge of an entire product area with multiple teams, but I was also personally in a place where I needed a change. So, why not and how hard could it be?
Well, I was surprised to find out that it was not as easy as I had expected. First and foremost, my partner and I needed to find a home, a flexible setting where we could feel comfortable while exploring this new city. Most millennials, like ourselves, don’t need to own a place or accumulate physical things to make a home. We just need a place where we can belong to in a new land, without having to make permanent commitments. For us, we needed some flexibility so we could figure out if we wanted to make this our long-term base. The challenge is that the standard housing model today does not accommodate for the needs of a moving population. Corporate housing used to fill that gap, but only for the top executives traveling with large corporations. The only options most people have is to either sign long-term leases with large deposits or attempt to buy something in a city you hardly know. On top of that, all the up front costs around furnishings and the time it takes to get setup is not something we want to prioritize anymore. A hotel or Airbnb can be a stop gap measure for a few weeks, but then what? Why isn’t there a easier way for me to move to a new city to test it out with lower risk?
Second, we underestimated the time involved in taking care of all the practicalities involved in a move. This included everything from visa processing, work registration, to understanding health care, taxes, phone, even getting a new bank account can be a difficult if you don’t understand the system or the language. When we moved here, I spent almost the first four months in a transitionary state, trying to get all the practical things sorted out. There was hardly any time left in the first few month to enjoy the city or even try to find hints of the friendships that I missed so dearly from my past.
When we looked around us, we realized that this challenge was not unique to us or to Copenhagen. My partner faced the same struggles when he first moved to San Francisco a few years prior to that and we also heard the same stories of struggles from all the employees we were hiring while in our product roles. These stories echo from San Francisco to London, Berlin, Paris- all the major metropolis’. More and more of the world population is on the move, some moving to urban areas and others moving countries all together. According to UN Urbanization report, around 52% of population is now living in urban cities and it is supposed to grow to 70% by 2050. In Europe, urban cities house up to 75% of the population already based on World Bank’s Urban Population Report. On top of that around 225 million people, excluding refugees, are living in a foreign country on their own will, up 10% from 2010. As a global workforce, we have seen an increase in the movement of skilled labor and that movement is going to increase.
What we realized is that moving doesn’t have to be this stressful. There should be easier options to move to a country, have flexible housing and a launchpad to kickstart a new life. We millennials want flexibility of making a home wherever we want and an ability to move to another home if we wish to do so.
This is what inspired LifeX. We are challenging the way we think about living by providing a modern co-living- essentially a landing pad in a new city which is flexible, all-inclusive, provides a community on arrival. We offer work permit/visa processing and take care of all the practical things like registration to getting a bank account and everything in between. Our goal is to take away the stress of transition and provide our members a happy first experience in a new city. We love the hygge and Sunday dinners together, and spend time connecting people offline.
We started in June 2017 in Copenhagen and we already have three active properties with a fourth one opening in November. All of these properties are in the city center, providing a perfect launchpad to explore a new place. We have partnered with HAY, one of the fastest growing Danish design companies in the world, who is showcasing Scandinavian living at LifeX and are committed to making our homes hygge.
With +22 members, representing +10 companies and +12 nationalities, it is amazing to finally start building something that we have been wanting for years and get some early validation for a need like this in market. Given our roots in technology, we started with filling the need of companies we knew, but soon branched to industries like consulting, advertising and others looking for better relocation options.
I am proud and humbled to share early impressions of few of the LifeXers around what we are building. Our members are the best and LifeX is what it is because of them, so to have them share their experiences is really something else. This crazy journey has only just begun and there is a lot more to come, so enjoy :)