Collective living - Not just for hippies

​Do you know what a collective is? This is how I found a fun and sustainable way of living while studying at Chalmers. 

Right after I received my acceptance letter for my master at Chalmers, I started to look for accommodations. One of my best friends who studies at Chalmers told me that one of his friends had just bought a big house five minutes from Chalmers and was starting a collective.  

At first, I did not know much about collectives, for some reason I only associated it to hippies living together and singing songs, but it turns out it is not just that. Any group of people living together under the same roof and usually sharing expenses such as electricity, wifi, etc. can be called a collective. I had the first contact with a couple of the members over a Skype interview.  Moving to the collective got me thinking and I realized I was about to move in with some strangers, which made me unsure about my safety. But since William, the founder of the collective and my best friend knew each other and everything went smooth and natural in the interview I felt like it was the right choice, plus I had also read Sweden has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.  

For many students, living so far from home can be challenging. Although this is not my first time going to Sweden, I had been here once during Midsommar (Midsummer) when every day is sunny and beautiful, but not in the winter. I heard that Sweden can be dark and depressing during this time and I thought that I didn´t want to spend it living alone in a student housing room. When I arrived in Gothenburg, I visited the collective for the first time. William gave me the tour of the house, it was clear that he just had started the collective since half of the house was still under renovation. But, since I had studied architecture back in Mexico and I enjoy building things, I considered it to be a treat to renovate a house together with my new housemates.

We are seven in total, William, Sara, Astrid, Matilda, Jenny, Josef and me, almost everyone found about the collective because they were friends with William, or they knew a friend of him, but a couple of the members found it through facebook groups (information in the bottom).   Even though it sounds like a lot of people I must say it is a big house with large common areas, two gardens and even a sauna. Everyone is Swedish except me, so I feel like I just landed in the perfect place to expand my friend network and increase my knowledge about Swedish culture.  

Living in the collective and talking to my roommates helped me realize what a good option it is to reduce our impact in the environment since we share a lot of things and we even make more conscious choices.   For example, when cooking together we motivate each other trying to eat healthier, organic and vegan products since a couple of the collective are vegan, but of course, we respect each other's individual preferences.    Another thing I have learned while living in my collective is about recycling. In Mexico, the best case scenario is to divide the garbage between organic and inorganic. In Sweden recycling is taken to a whole new level. In the collective, we recycle plastic, clear glass, coloured glass, metal, cardboard, electronics, pant (a Swedish system for recycling plastic bottles and cans ) and organic waste. We are a diverse group of both students and professionals between 23 and 28 so you can imagine we have many differences but also many things in common and enjoy doing things together like cooking, climbing at the sports hall Fysiken, watching movies or having game nights every now and then. 

One of my favourite nights in the collective has been when we had our house warming party, where I met ​my
housemate's close friends and we even made a few piñatas filled with candy. I thought it was funny when it was time to hit the piñatas and we broke them and all the candy spread on the floor. Everyone was just standing around watching, so I told them they were supposed to jump and grab as much candy as possible, and so they did. In Mexico, we have the tradition to celebrate “El Dia de Los Muertos” (“Day of the dead”) every 2nd of November so I organized a dinner for them with traditional dishes which we cooked together, and I even taught them how to make tortillas by hand.  In the other hand, there are many traditions I have learned while living in my collective such as mushroom picking in the fall, eating cinnamon buns every 4th of October and enjoying hot glögg (a wine-like beverage with spices and fruit juices) in the Christmas season.   

I have the weird feeling of knowing my roommates longer than it has been but that is just what happens when you live with someone and you get to know them faster and better. Moving in with my collective has been one of the best decisions I have made after moving to Sweden and starting my master at Chalmers, I could not be happier with the extended family I have today. 

For more information on collectives in Gothenburg search the Facebook group: Kollektiv Göteborg​​

Page manager Published: Mon 29 Apr 2019.