CO-WORKING & CO-LIVING IN SPAIN
Blog by Katrina Peacock | Student Advocate
Katrina is an Independent Student Advocate at Advocacy and Welfare. Her role provides independent information and support to UNE students with a range of concerns including academic misconduct, behavioural misconduct, withdrawal from a unit, remission of fees, welfare concerns and so much more! Read her blog on the UNELife site to learn more about her role as a Student Advocate and how she may assist you.
At our co-living house in Jávea, Spain we refer to one another as ‘familia’, the Spanish word for family. This sense of belonging is precisely why, of all of the locations in Spain, I chose to live and work in this little town, and to stay in this house called Sun and Co. It’s a place for remote workers to live and work, but most importantly to connect. In April 2022, I left Australia to commence three months of remote work in Spain. I’m still in the same role as a Student Advocate, only for now I’m supporting students as a ‘location independent worker’.
I had a dream to discover Spain and to immerse myself in local life and culture.
I was excited to plan this adventure, but I also knew that spending three months working from a laptop, in a foreign country was going to be a challenge. Because I was traveling alone, didn’t know anyone and didn’t know the language, I instinctively knew that finding people to connect with on a daily basis would be important.
What is co-living?
Co-living and co-working spaces are popping up all over the world. The difference between a co-working space and co-living/co-working place (like Sun and Co.) is the element of community. Here, people from all over the world come together with a common desire to be connected and share the experience of remote work with other like-minded individuals. We do more than share accommodation and a work space. Together, we share daily life, skills, adventures, deep conversations and a lot of tapas!
Are You Suited To Co-living?
Do you hunger for freedom and discovery? During my stay in a co-living house I have met people who are wholly ‘location independent’. They don’t have a home, or a base that they go back to. They travel perpetually and enjoy the absolute freedom of choosing their location from month-to-month. Then, there are people like me, who are doing remote, work short-term, and have a home to go back to. The average stay at Sun and Co. is about 3 weeks, but the common desire of everyone is to have the freedom to work from anywhere, to explore new places, and meet new people. Does this sound like you?
Can You Afford Co-living?
Co-living can be quite affordable, and possibly even cheaper than living at home. The big thing to consider is how financially tied you want to be to your home. If you want to become a remote worker, but are not sure you can afford it, consider whether you can reduce or even eliminate your financial obligations. For example, if you have a sizeable mortgage, or expensive rent you might need to consider how you can manage that. Is it possible to rent out your home, sell, sublet your rental or end your lease?
I currently don’t have a house, a car or any debts. That means my only big expense at the moment is travel and food. My accommodation at Sun and Co is €22 per night, and I bought a second-hand bike when I arrived. Food is quite cheap here, so I can afford to live and work in Spain on a part-time income.
It’s all about considering your financial priorities and deciding whether freedom ranks high on your list.
Could Remote Work Be For You?
The number one thing you need to be successful as a remote worker, is the support of your employer. This has made all of the difference to me being able to work as a Student Advocate for UNELife, in Spain. After you graduate, you might get the kind of job that can be done from anywhere, have all of the remote technology in the world, and an adventurous spirit, but if you don’t have the support of a flexible employer you will not get far. There are more and more jobs being offered as ‘remote work’, so when you’re entering the workforce I suggest you consider whether ‘future you’ may want to work from anywhere.
To succeed as a remote worker there are some personal attributes that you ought to have.
You need to be resourceful, independent and resilient.
This is crucial in the first days and weeks that you arrive in a new location, especially if you go to a foreign country. For example, when I arrived in Spain I needed to get my phone connected with a local sim and I didn’t speak any Spanish. This involved asking for help from a store assistant who, similarly, did not speak one word of English. All of the information she showed me about calls, data, expiry, how to re-charge etc. were written in Spanish. All I understood was that she was pointing at a deal that cost €15 and that she wanted my passport to verify my identity. Everything else was a complete mystery to me, but through patience and persistence I figured it out. This is only one example of many simple tasks that can be stressful and confusing in a foreign place.
Last, but not least, before you book your plane ticket I suggest you consider whether you have the blessing of your significant others. This may not be something you need to consider, but for me I definitely had to think about how others felt about me taking off for three months. If you’re single or in a relationship with someone who also has the ability to work remotely you could be in an ideal position to give it a go. So, why not consider co-living?
It’s a big, wide world full of exciting possibilities.
If you would like guidance on your career path, you can contact the team at Employability & Careers.
The team at Advocacy and Welfare are your independent Advocates, they’re always available to help you through any study or personal issues.