Coliving can serve many purposes beyond just accommodating digital nomads and remote workers. Often, coliving spaces tackle some big societal issues and many try to provide solutions that inspire their resolutions.
In that light, today we’re bringing you the interview with Jonatan, the owner, and operator of EcoIsleta Coliving, the first coliving with the goal of becoming Zero Waste and helping its residents and its local neighborhood embrace an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
EcoIsleta is a relatively new space, one of the few ones in Las Palmas, and located in one of the most convenient locations of the city – the La Isleta neighborhood.
Read what Jonatan has to say about their idea and values and follow our journey while we’re staying at their space.
Disclaimer: This piece of content may contain some affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase or book through one of our links, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
How it all started
“If we wish to rebuild our cities, we must first rebuild our neighborhoods.”
1. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and the journey that led you to open EcoIsleta Coliving?
Jonatan: We are a family from the Canary Islands. Our relatives have been living in our neighborhood for more than 100 years.
Basically, we started working for our local community in 2008, and since that year, we have done many different activities in the neighborhood.
Eco Isleta Coliving is just one of our projects through which we try to support the neighborhood.
2. Tell us a bit about the Eco Isleta brand/ecosystem – the vision of the concept and the offering that come together under this name.
Jonatan: EcoIsleta is a tool to regenerate our neighborhood.
We have an organic shop and a coliving, and everything we do is focused on the sustainability of this part of the city.
3. Before opening your place, have you had the opportunity to stay in some other coliving spaces or any similar accommodation? Tell us a bit more about that experience.
Jonatan: No, we have never been in a coliving or visited any coliving before opening EcoIsleta Coliving. Perhaps it could be helpful, but I’m not sure that what works in other colivings can work in our neighborhood.
We are not offering a room and a desk, we don’t want to be the best coliving in the city, we want you to understand our identity, we want you to discover the uniqueness of the La Isleta neighborhood.
4. When building your coliving space, was there something that influenced your approach or inspired you to create the space and experience you have now?
Jonatan: We got a lot of inspiration from reading the book Art of Coliving by Gui Perdrix.
We also took inspiration from some colivings we admired and whose philosophy we liked, such as Sun and Co.
5. What is the story behind you choosing Las Palmas as the location of Eco Coliving?
Jonatan: There is no other option for us. We live 300 mt from our shop and 350 mt from our coliving. We love our neighborhood, so it doesn’t make sense for us to do it in other places. EcoIsleta means working for the future of La Isleta neighborhood and that’s why we’re here.
6. Not one coliving is the same as the other! Being on an island with many other coliving places, what would you say is Eco Coliving’s signature – some uniqueness that you offer compared to other coliving places?
Jonatan: As far as I know, nobody has this “crazy” goal of becoming a Zero Waste Coliving…
Not too many colivings in the world can tell you the amount of compostable trash turned into a resource they have produced every month. I would say that is our biggest differentiator.
“There’s nothing wrong with staying small. You can do big things with a small team.”
7. What type of management do you practice in the coliving?
Jonatan: We are a family. My wife Rita runs the shop and I (Jonatan) run the Coliving.
We don’t have employees because we can´t afford it. Sustainability sounds very cool, but it is very difficult to be profitable with a sustainable business.
That’s why we do it all; we do cleaning, maintenance, check-in, community dinners, etc.
Our calendar to manage the bookings is in Excel. We don’t have any booking application, we answer emails manually, we read carefully each application, talk to people, we do a bit of ” amateur marketing” when we have time, like social media, but we prefer old fashion “marketing”: mouth to mouth.
We make many mistakes and don’t like to hide them away. Instead, we are transparent about our business with future colivers before coming.
This is a workers’ house from 1912 – are you ready to experience how they lived?
But to be honest, I love what I do… believe it or not…
8. How much are you involved in the community and daily activities of Eco Coliving?
Jonatan: As much as possible. I love to meet and talk with people from all around the world.
We consider ourselves part of the community; we cook every week for our community and it is something very powerful…
9. What kind of activities are included for people who stay at your place?
Jonatan: We do all sorts of different activities like International Dinners, Mojo Remote (trying the typical Canarian cuisine and homemade mojo), hikes in a natural area near the house, Tandem (language learning game), Paella Remote (Paella workshop and dinner), La Isleta Learning Remote when we go to the High Schools and share about the digital nomad life with the children, Vegan Dinner, etc.
10. How do you approach organizing activities and events?
Jonatan: We don’t have a closed schedule or any kind of program, we improvise. We are in a city full of activities, and our community is very small and familiar, we see what works for the week ahead and plan in that direction, and mostly we are open to the suggestion of the community. We are small and we can move fast or organize a dinner or any other activity very fast, which is very helpful.
“All we have to do is find something we love doing each day, surround ourselves with like-minded people, and put all of our effort into that one thing at all times.”
11. What is the typical coliver profile in EcoIsleta Coliving (age, occupation, etc.)?
Jonatan: The typical coliver in EcoIsleta is someone who wants to live more sustainably, a conscious traveler, or simply a remote worker.
We had people of all ages, from 25 years to 60 years.
12. What would you say people who come to EcoIsleta Coliving are searching for; what is the most frequent reason people come?
Jonatan: Meeting like-minded people, finding purpose in their life…
13. What do you think is the ideal length of stay to fully emerge in the community and experience at your place?
Jonatan: At least 1 month.
14. Do you offer some special offers/discounts?
Jonatan: Not at the moment. First, we need to be profitable, and then we can think about discounts.
Expenses in a Coliving are very high, amenities, community, maintenance, cleaning, taxes, we only have 7 rooms.
In today’s economy profitability really starts when you scale, but that is not in our plans. It doesn’t make any sense to us. We don’t want to be big; we want to be useful, so we have to figure out how to be profitable with a single unit. And we are still learning how to do it…
We do have different prices for high and low seasons, though.
About the Coliving Movement
”We have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community.”
15. Do you think coliving is only dedicated to a specific group of people such as freelancers, digital nomads, and remote workers, or do you think it can gain popularity beyond that group of people?
Jonatan: Hopefully, we will see colivings in the future for different kinds of people, not only for remote workers, why? Because living together is more sustainable and also, we are facing a loneliness challenge in the cities.
16. Do you think coworking is a crucial component of coliving and why?
Jonatan: Yes, because people need to work, but we are not here to be the best place to work, we are here to offer you a sustainable community experience that helps our neighborhood find answers to change the way we live.
17. What would you say is the most crucial element of a coliving?
Jonatan: Community. We live in a world where we are all extremely connected, but more alone than ever.
I would suggest throwing away your mobile phone for a few hours a day and getting real connections, going to the beach, smelling the ocean… love is all around.
18. One of the main selling points of colivings is the possibility to meet new people, share experiences, and maybe even develop new partnerships. Is this something you also had in mind when opening your place?
Jonatan: Of course, Sustainability is about collaboration, sharing, and helping each other. The challenges we are facing in the new paradigm are based on solid communities that embrace a new philosophy based on collaboration. Competing is driving us to a very dangerous situation.
19. Lastly, how do you see both Eco Coliving and Eco Isleta ecosystem developing in the next few years? Do you have a vision of what it will grow into or some aspirations and goals that you’ve…
Jonatan: We see ourselves working to help La Isleta to become the first sustainable neighborhood of the Canary Islands.
Secure yourself the best coliving experience
- italki – Why not learn some Spanish before your trip and make your coliving even better? italki is the perfect platform for that! You will find more than 3500 native speakers waiting to help you with your Spanish.
Disclaimer: This article contains some affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, we can earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase.