Located in the picturesque Costa da Morte, iSlow invites you to take a moment to observe the world around you. In today’s fast-paced world, we have forgotten how to appreciate the moments around us, and iSlow is on a mission to turn that around.
This family-friendly Galician coliving welcomes all who want to try a slow way of coliving, coworking, and connecting. And all that while surrounded by the raw nature of the Galician coastal front and enjoying the sustainable countryside life.
iSlow is opening the doors of its modern and fully equipped redesign of a traditional country house this spring (2022), and we took a moment to sit down with one of the founders, Ines, and hear more about their idea and vision.
How it all started
“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
1. When did you decide to open a coliving space of your own, and what was the driving force behind your decision?
– We had been rebuilding the house where ISlow is based for a while with the intention of opening it as a retreat center for some time before learning about coliving and considering it as an option.
I (Ines) have always been into nutrition and wellbeing and even trained in naturopathic nutrition as a second career, and although I spent ten years living in London and other cities in the UK, I always valued the power of what a slow and rural lifestyle has to our health.
It was at the start of the pandemic when we learned about the coliving movement and realised it would be a great opportunity for us, as it would combine both our passions for a healthy and slow lifestyle along with my career in technology and IT.
Being based in a remote setting like Laxe, A Costa da Morte, our driving force is around rural development.
We would like to offer our visitors an experience of integration with the local community as well as allowing the local community to link with colivers from around the world.
Living a slow life while being connected with international and multicultural communities.
2. Have you ever had the opportunity to stay in some other coliving space or any type of shared accommodation before you decided to open your own place?
– We experienced shared accommodation during our years as students and working years both in Spain and abroad in the UK.
We also visited Anceu when they first opened and connected with other rural co-livings in Spain but we haven’t had the chance yet to stay in one long.
This is mainly because we are a family of 4 and not many colivings are designed for families. This is one of the reasons why we would like to focus on families as well as other types of colivers like remote workers, slow travellers, or digital nomads.
3. You are about to open your place to the public very soon what is the thing you are struggling with the most in this final phase?
– The pandemic has made an impact on the construction sector in our region so it has been very difficult to stick to a timeline and finish the building works at the pace we would have liked.
On the other hand, we have been lucky to have support from our family and close friends which has allowed us to manage the project closely and make every decision.
We invested a lot of effort in adapting the house so it fits the needs of a group of people living together that share common spaces while keeping their own privacy.
Shared spaces are designed so adults and kids are able to keep entertained in the same space with autonomy. All rooms are ensuite and some of them can be used as shared dorms or private family rooms.
In terms of activities, we are planning to offer a range of activities that will be of interest to all ages.
4. Is there something that you wished you knew before starting this project?
– When it comes to construction, things always take 2 or 3 times longer than planned.
As a product manager who has worked in IT projects for years, I tried my best to define what a minimum viable product would be for our project to try and launch as quickly as possible.
It is difficult to prototype when there are works involved and there is no easy way to inspect and adapt. Once something is built in a way there is no easy way to go back and rushing only makes things worse. So taking it slow and thoughtful was the best approach.
5. Did some other coliving places in Spain influence your approach, on how to set up your own?
– The idea of running our own coliving got us excited from the first moment as we see it as the perfect setting for building meaningful connections in a multicultural environment which is something we really miss from our time in London.
Although we were concerned that being a family would make it difficult for us to balance out our time with our community of colivers.
But we were happy to have learned that some coliving spaces were inquired by families but were not designed for that type of users so that helped reinforce.
It will be great to host other families and offer the best experience for them as well as for us.
While designing the space we have instinctually kept families at the center because it is easy for us to relate to their needs.
Play areas, outdoor spaces, activities for kids to enjoy with other kids while parents are working or would like to enjoy some time alone.
6. What is the story behind you choosing Spain as the location for opening your coliving space?
– Choosing the location was a no-brainer for us. We did not pick a location the location picked us.
The house where ISlow is based is the family house where I (Ines) was raised. It belonged to our family, from our great grandfather was passed on to my parents and then on to us.
Since the begging we were very clear on all the positives both the area, the local community has to offer to anyone interested in experiencing what is like living like a local at ISlow.
The food, nature, slow lifestyle, traditions, all play a big role at ISlow.
7. What are the advantages and disadvantages (for you as owners) of building a coliving at a remote rural place?
– The cons are always around services, the internet, public transport but those are also the facts that make the experience different from the one you get in a city.
The slow pace of living, having time and opportunities to interact with the local community, no crowds of people, being surrounded by nature, fresh air, sea, and nice food, freedom for kids to explore around, and a pollution-free environment.
“Having kids is a reason to travel, never a reason to stop.“
8. What profile of people do you want to attract with your coliving place?
– Anyone who has an interest in experiencing A Costa da Morte and its lifestyle is welcome.
In general, we would like to encourage long stays as we believe is best to get to know the area and have the chance to create connections. Unless you are on a sabbatical, remote workers will have it easier to stay longer than just spending a holiday.
We would love to connect with freelancers and entrepreneurs as we are going through our entrepreneurial journey and understand their struggles and offer support in form of workshops, networking and training programs.
As a family, we would love to host other families.
9. Will your place be dedicated exclusively to families and people with kids?
– Not just, but we have put a lot of thought into designing the space so it is adapted so both kids and adults can share common areas.
10. How long do you expect your future colivers to stay at your place?
– During the month of April we will be running a trial period where we would host as many people as possible and after that, the minimum stay is going to be 1 week with discounts being applied based on the length of the stay.
11. What additional activities will be included for people who decide to stay at your coliving?
– We believe the activities need to be driven by the community of colivers staying at a given time but from our side some of the things we would like to run are:
- Hiking the Lighthouse Way
- Organise workshops around slow food, traditional cooking, and other wellbeing activities such as yoga, pilates.
- Foliadas – Which are a form of traditional festivals in this region.
- Explore the area via geocaching.
We are collaborating with a number of people that will be able to run professional workshops and training sessions on different topics around entrepreneurship.
12. Which unique activity do you think iSlow will offer compared to other coliving places in Spain?
– In general, we are going to organise events that bring opportunities for interaction between colivers and locals.
We believe this is particularly of interest to families.
13. Are you going to have some special offers for family bookings?
– Activities for kids during the week so parents can relax or do some work while their families are having fun.
Special prices for staying during the school year and long stays.
About the Coliving Movement
”Luxury travel may be glamorous, but not always meaningful. Local culture may not always be glamorous, but it’s always meaningful.”
-Nyssa P. Chopra
14. Do you think that coliving is only dedicated to a specific group of people such as freelancers, remote workers, and digital nomads, or do you think there is a possibility to gain popularity beyond that group of people?
– For us living in a coliving for some time is the best option for those looking to connect with the region and the locals and experience what is like to live in the area as locals do, as opposed to spending a few days of their holidays just sightseeing.
The longer you stay the better the experience so in that sense the type of work you do might influence the freedom to live in a coliving long term.
Those who have the freedom to work remotely like freelancers and digital nomads of course might find it easier as their work allows for mobility.
But the essence of coliving is the experience around creating those meaningful connections you can get from sharing a living space with like-minded people so colivings can so be a great option for slow travellers, people on sabbaticals or anyone who is looking to relocate in the area and would like to join a community that will offer support and a warm welcome when first landing.
15. Do you think that coliving cannot exist without coworking?
– The terms of coliving, coworking, cohousing are very much linked together, and sometimes it is difficult to define them.
We understand coliving as the interactions of like-minded people who share a living space so theoretically the coworking could be optional but often what makes people connect are things like having common interests, the need to collaborate in projects, and seeking support from a community, especially for families.
All those connections take time so having a shared space to connect professionally allows for more opportunities to connect.
16. What do you think is going to be the best value ISlow will offer for people who decide to stay there?
– Interaction and integration with the local community, contributing to rural development and raising awareness around the value of living a slower, more present, and generally healthier lifestyle for us as individuals and families.
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