Kathy Christensen
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Is a Live-Work Space Right for You?

by Katherine Christensen 05/16/2019

During a location search for a new home, you may have come across the term “live-work” in the descriptions of potential living spaces, even when those spaces differ widely from one another. While many buildings market themselves as live-work, the definition for just what that means can vary from building to building.

Some examples of such buildings include:

  • A building that is primarily residential but has no restrictions on working from home. This might be any type of residential building or neighborhood including condominiums, townhouses, flats and single-family dwellings.
  • Or, it might be a storefront that allows for walk-in customers or clients, and public parking access, with an adjacent living space above or in the rear of the property. These live-work spaces more commonly resemble historic family-run markets or bodegas.
  • Other live-work spaces are zoned for more hazardous or commercial activity. These can include artists’ lofts, recording studios, and other creative spaces.
  • Some locations are part of urban renewal or gentrification efforts to make residential use of a former industrial area. Allowing residents and businesses to co-exist in such facilities can bring a vibrant vibe to a formerly decaying area. Living spaces surround joint workspaces and common areas.Each different type of live-work housing opportunity has different zoning and residential restrictions and regulations and may or may not have access to residential services such as nearby schools, parks, libraries or grocery stores.

Why choose a live-work space?

Originally made popular by artists’ communities, the live-work concept gave creative people a place to work, with a built-in support community. Some urban areas even have protective zones for artists that impose conditions and restrictions meant to keep the housing affordable for the artist community.Another group to which the live-work concept appeals are entrepreneurs looking for incubators for brainstorming. The concept is that living close to their workspace doesn’t interrupt the flow of ideas that could contribute to their next start-up.

Finally, employees that telecommute or work virtually often look for properties with access to commercial high-speed Internet not available in regular residential area. Because they spend their days working alone, having other telecommuters nearby to gather and share life with keeps them encouraged and connected to a community.

Some live-work residents like being near to other entrepreneurs whose services and products are complementary to facilitate collaboration on mutual projects.

Will it work for you?

Live-work spaces in warehouse conversions and lofts may be near functioning factories, railroad tracks or other noisy industries. Some people thrive on the noise and energy of an active area or busy shared spaces. Others like to step out their doorway to automatic social opportunities. If your needs include quiet space or low levels of background noise, however, this type of live-work space may not be for you.

Before you dive in, spend time meeting your potential neighbors, to get a feel for living and working there.

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