The end of June 2023 is right around the corner and with that, we are finishing our third Coliving Spain Project Initiative.
As you might know, for this initiative, we decided to take it slow and visit only two coliving spaces that were just starting their coliving journey. Still, we chose two completely different colivings to show you different sides of this movement – and we think we chose them perfectly.
After Madrid and a month of balancing between the metropolitan and suburban life, taking in the best of both worlds, we flew right into the center of digital nomads in Canaria, to continue taking the best of both worlds – the world of digital nomads and the local community we found ourselves in.
If you haven’t checked the article we wrote after the first coliving from this initiative – Coliving Madrid – we invite you to do that, and if you did, let’s get right into our month half stay in Eco Isleta Coliving, the first sustainable coliving in La Isleta, Las Palmas.
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Las Palmas – The Canarian Capital of Digital Nomads and Remote Workers
Eco Isleta’s convenient location in one of Europe’s leading digital nomad hubs makes it a promising place to find community and connect with others.
Like all big cities, with around 400 thousand people, Las Palmas is a colorful and lively place where you will not lack the opportunity to meet new people.
However, Las Palmas is not just another city on an island or just another European metropolitan. Las Palmas is a European capital dressed in a coastal paradise on an archipelago deep in the Atlantic Ocean, which perfectly merges three completely different groups of people – the locals who love the city in a way only islanders do, the tourists who love good food, crisp water, and sipping cocktails on the beach, and digital nomads who seek adventure, community, and modern infrastructures.
Somehow, Las Palmas answers the needs of all these three groups, letting them cohabitate and enrich each other’s lives.
The city can be as wild or as shy as you want it, as international or as local as you want it, and as busy or as calm as you want it. Sometimes, it seems like three cities in one. And even though it is not as big, it does stretch along the coast, allowing it to have distinct areas that all carry individual vibes.
To live in the old town is quite different than to live close to the city beach, which gives its visitors and residents a choice based on what they’re looking for.
In Eco Isleta’s case, the location is right there in the epicenter of the digital nomad activity – in the upper part of the city called La Isleta – a neigborhood equipped with all you need, full of live and happenings, but also rich in quit corners.
What is interesting is thatm even though this area is extremely popular with digital nomads and even tourists due to its proximity to the city beach, it is still a very local neighborhood that takes great pride in its people and traditions.
Eco Isleta Brand
Eco Isleta is not only a coliving but rather a sustainability brand and ecosystem owned and operated by Jonatan and Rita, a local couple who spent their whole lives in the neighborhood.
Before opening the coliving space, Jonatan and Rita had already opened Eco Store La Isleta, the first locally owned small eco store in the area.
Their store focuses on high-quality, healthy products, from snacks and sweets to vegetables and olive oil, but also on eco home and personal care products such as washing detergent, dishwashing soap, and shampoos they sell on tap.
All things that Jonatan and Rita brought to life through the Eco Isleta brand had two things in mind – what the name also states – the eco, sustainable way of life, and La Isleta, their beloved neighborhood.
The vision started with a blog, Conoce La Isleta, which was meant to tell a story of this old area from the local perspective. Many people pass through the neighborhood not stopping to think about its history, the people who live there, their stories, struggles, and in the end, the things they love and cherish the most.
After some time of being inspired by their own stories of La Isleta, Jonatan and Rita decided to offer even more and open an Eco Store that will sell local products and, more importantly, promote a healthy, responsible, and eco way of life.
With a family house they owned in the neighborhood, Jonatan and Rita first hosted an Airbnb, however, with the birth of coliving spaces, they saw a bigger opportunity to promote their values and vision, and do something more significant for the area. That’s how Eco Isleta Coliving came to life in November of 2022.
Jonatan – The Local Coliving Host
In all colivings, the host is one of the most important elements of the experience. So, when the host understands that and knows how to use his or her role to make a balanced and inspiring environment, the colivers can thrive.
In Eco Isleta’s case, the host’s perspective is on point. The role belongs to Jonatan, who does not live in the coliving (but very close by) and who comes in daily or bi-daily to check in on the place, add more amenities, clean up, fix or improve something, or set the place up for an event.
However, all these visits have a much bigger value because of Jonatan’s charismatic and extroverted personality. He always comes in smiling from ear to ear, looking forward to a chat with his colivers, hearing about their day, and often diving in a meaningful conversation.
As a family-owned business, Jonatan and Rita, with the help of their two kids, manage the coliving and the store by themselves. So, everything that happens and everything you see is a product of their hands, effort, and imagination.
As a host, Jonatan is not only responsible for managing the house but also for organizing events in the coliving – which are PLENTY – but we’ll come back to that a bit later.
What makes him shine among other owners is his curiosity and constant wish to learn more, improve, and research. We have met a lot of decidated owners througn our Coliving Spain joruney so far, but Jonatan s one of the most dedicated ones we’ve met.
Lastly, Jonatan proudly and bravely takes on the role to be the educator and promoter of a healthier, more eco-friendly way of life, and does it without any judgment. He is just happy to show you better ways and lets you decide if you want to implement them or not – no pressure and no strings attached.
Eco Isleta Coliving is a very unique house with a big soul. The way it looks today was certainly not how the house was originally built or imagined but Jontan and Rita worked on it to convert it and repurpose it in order to maximize its potential.
The house was originally built for two families back in the day, providing common and private areas both on the ground and the first floor, but today, it’s a cohesive unit centered around one set of common areas upstairs with private rooms on the ground floor.
When you walk in, you will be welcomed by a small hallway with a wooden vanity, an information board, a couple of bikes, and some inspiring coastal decoration. You will also immediately see a small window at the end of the hallway looking at the stairs covered in natural light. This part of the house was a patio but, now, when the outdoor space is occupying most of the first floor, the patio has been converted into a bright hallway.
All private rooms are on the ground floor, except one that is actually a tiny wooden hub on the rooftop, so let’s take a close look at the rooms, shall we?
Private rooms in Eco Isleta are simple, cozy nooks, with original walls, and handmade furniture. There are seven rooms for seven Canary Islands, each one carrying the name of one of the islands.
All rooms are equipped with a bed (standard or double, except for some that are single only), an open closet (we loved ours!), a nightstand, and a working station with a night lamp. All rooms also have unique art from a local artist that represents the urban and the local soul of the island. Most rooms on the ground floor are blessed with super high ceilings, making even small rooms feel big.
All the rooms (except the upstairs one) share two bathrooms – one downstairs and one upstairs.
What is great is that the downstairs bathroom is that it is truly only for the colivers, because when events happen, they happen upstairs, so all the rooms below are (unofficially) kept private from the guests.
Every room has something unique, like this one with a bed in mezzanine or another one with the original stone wall.
The room on the rooftop is the only one with a private bathroom – La Gomera. Simple and isolated from other rooms, it is like a small cozy cabin with its own nightly views of the herb garden.
Also, all the rooms are pretty private in the sense of sound isolation so people can have different routines and not be bothered by others.
We stayed in room Fuerteventura and we enjoyed it very much. But what we enjoyed the most are the common areas, so let’s get into that.
As we mentioned, in Eco Isleta Coliving most of the common areas are on the rooftop. There is a small lounge area in the sector before the stairs on the ground floor but it is not frequently used as the upstairs spaces are much more conveinet.
The upper floor of the coliving is amazing. It’s divided into 3 sections – the inside kitchen/coworking area, the outside coworking/chill area, and a more private/chill area on the upper section of the rooftop next to the upper private room.
The sections outside are perfect for sunbathing and events with larger groups, especially the kind of events that often happen in Eco Isleta.
There are also quite a few spots outside that you can use to have a more private work corner in the morning or evenings until it gets sunny. But, in general, the rooftop is very spacious and allows you to choose a spot based on your mood, although, when there are no events, the outside areas typically mean somebody wants to chill alone and not be bothered. Why? Because all the socializing happens in the kitchen/coworking area and now let’s get into that!
Kitchen and Main Coworking area
The main social area is also the main working area and – surprisingly – it works really well. Often, when a coliving space doesn’t have a clearly separated space for work and social life, it can get tough to get around and establish boundaries. But, in Eco Isleta, it works perfectly.
The reason for that is probably that the space is organized in such a way that despite its size, it has structural corners that align with the natural movement of people. The cooking area is in the corner with a window overlooking the opposite side of the roof and the (now closed) patio.
At the entrance to this common space, and right across the cooking area, there are two big fridges with shelves assigned to each room, with a multipurpose table in front of them, that is most often used for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Even though there are not any strict rules for that, it just follows the natural structure of the room.
In the opposite corner of the room is a sofa for nightly social chills or afternoon siestas, and in front of the sofa, two tables with 4 to 5 working spots.
During the day, we would always gather around the tables and work together, and even when somebody goes a few steps away to the kitchen area to make breakfast or cook lunch, they are never distributing those who were working.
And even if there are more people or a conversation going on and you have an important meeting, all the rooms are equipped with space to work and a good connection, so you always have an alternative.
There was something very special about the energy in this space that it just worked at every moment of the day.
In the morning, whoever wakes up first would make coffee for all of us, and then, when by one, people would emerge and be welcomed with a fresh cup of energy.
In the afternoons, we would often gather around the tables, put some music on, and work each on our laptops, joking in between, playing games or quizzes, and helping each other through the day.
In the evenings, we would gather around a board game or just sit together around the tables, talking, joking, and having a beer or two.
In a way, this space became the perfect representation of what remote workers are missing without an office job – a community, colleagues, and somebody to share the burden of work and a smile in between, and at the same time, it also became a place where people come together after work, to play and socialize
So, even though we always suggest colivings to divide the work area from the social area if they can, and especially from the kitchen area, in Eco Isleta’s case – it just works.
And then, we come to the most important part – the community.
As a smaller coliving, with no host living in the house, the community grows close together pretty quickly. There is a strong family feeling, but not from the cliche “we are a family” perspective, but from the perspective of a real raw family.
When you’re in the house, you can be yourself, show your good and bad sides, be transparent and honest, and not pretend. You will meet your colivers as they are, and accept them, and you will build relationships with them that are unique to the two of you. No relationship will be the same, but still, you will all be a community.
Outside of the house, in the sea of digital nomads, you will enjoy and meet hundreds of new people, but you will always know you have your nucelous community to come back to. You will always have somebody to go back home with or at least somebody you know you will see in the morning.
Eco Isleta creates a very unique community that grows on you very fast and makes it much harder to leave it behind.
As a coliver, you will probably rely a lot on this internal community, but through the coliving, you will also meet a much bigger community of remote workers and locals. How?
Well, Jonatan and his wife Rita care a lot about the community that surrounds them. They find it extremely important to connect the locals with digital nomads and see their coliving space as a tool or an environment where these valuable connections can spark.
They use their coliving as a platform to introduce digital nomads to the local side of the city and the locals to the beauties that digital nomads bring with them. Let’s see how they do that.
Eco Isleta Weekly Events
One of the ways Jonatan and Rita use coliving to connect the local community and digital nomads is the weekly activities that happen in the coliving.
They organize a variety of activities and events all focused on promoting the island, the city, Canarian culture, healthy lifestyle, cultural and language exchange, and, in the end, the importance of community and social connections.
Some of the events they organize are structured language exchange evenings, where the locals practice speaking in English and the foreigners speak in Spanish; family dinners with locally sourced, traditional, or international food, food workshops where they teach foreigners how to make that local food, educational workshops such as SEO seminars we held, or sustainability seminars they had in the past.
In many of these activities and events, they collaborate with other local businesses such as a vegan restaurant or a local bakery, so with that collaboration, they can offer an amazing event to digital nomads while supporting a local SBO.
These events are almost always open to all who are interested and posted in the biggest Slack group of digital nomads in Las Palmas – Live It Up Las Palmas, so very often, a lot of people show up. Some days, there are as few as 10 people, and others as many as 25-30.
What is impressive is that besides managing the coliving space, taking care of their family, and running an Eco Store, Jonatan, and Rita organize these events completely by themselves – preparing it all without any external support. Rita cooks the dinners and holds food workshops, and Jontatan facilitates the language and education workshops.
This only shows how dedicated they are to the cause and how much they care for the value they offer, which is also something that elevates the colivings experience.
Lastly, besides the events happening in the coliving, Jonatan and Rita also find opportunities to contribute to the local neighborhood.
There are often different collaborations between the coliving and local businesses outside the coliving, such as free tours of the neigborhood or contributing to the local youth.
While we were in Eco Isleta, we had the opportunity to be a part of one of such initiatives. We went to the local high school and had a conversation with two classes about remote work and work opportunities in general, helping the kids understand their potential and talking about modern skills and where they can start to explore to learn these skills to set a better future for themselves.
This was not the first nor the last visit to a high school organized by Eco Isleta, and it is certainly not the only initiative of this kind for the neighborhood because this is the true value and vision behind the Eco Isleta brand.
After a month and a half
A month and a half has passed. At the same time, we feel it flew by quickly and, that it was as long as a lifetime. All in all, we are extremely grateful for this experience and for meeting Jonatan, Rita, their kids, their coliving, and their neighborhood.
We are leaving with great admiration towards their dedication and we’re excited to see what big things they will do next.
All we can say in the end is “Thank you, Eco Isleta, for showing us the real face of La Isleta, and teaching us what love of your neighborhood really means”.
Hope to see you soon!
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