Dining alfresco and weekend boat trips? Ellie Swain tells us what it's like being a digital nomad.
It’s hard to imagine spending the winter lounging on golden sugar sand beaches, dining alfresco and sailing across dazzling blue ocean. But that’s exactly what I did this November on the exotic, sun-soaked island of Gran Canaria.
I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a whole month co-living with a bunch of wonderful ‘digital nomads.’ For those who’ve never heard of the term, a digital nomad is someone who works remotely while exploring the world.
My life hasn’t always been this way. But since I decided to plunge into the realm of working abroad, the world really has been my oyster.
I work remotely as a copywriter while travelling. Around a year ago, I decided to pack up my life in London for good and head out onto the open road with Wifi Tribe, an organisation that brings like-minded professionals together from around the world.
So what exactly did the experience involve and could it be for you?
The rise of co-living
Co-living goes one up from co-working. It’s a modern form of house sharing, welcoming remote workers and entrepreneurs to live, work, and play together.
It isn’t just about the space, but about the people and the community too. Generally, co-living spots attract open-minded people who love travelling, yet are serious about their work during the day.
Buildings designed for co-living are usually completely furnished and aim to create an inspiring and engaging environment for people to communicate and share experiences. A great space will offer a large kitchen, plenty of room for working, and comfy lounge areas. Of course, a strong wifi connection is essential!
In Gran Canaria, I stayed in ‘The Roof’ in the island’s buzzy capital, Las Palmas. Run by repeople Co-living, I shared the space with 11 other digital nomads from Wifi Tribe, which I’ll dish the details on a bit later. We had plenty of room to work, cook, and socialise. The large open roof area meant we spent numerous work breaks and mornings enjoying group yoga sessions or a spot of badminton (yep, there was even enough space for a pop-up court.)
The Roof isn’t the only popular co-living spot in Europe, either. I’ve heard great things about many other locations. There are the quaint wooden chalets of Swiss Escape in the charming village of Grimentz in Switzerland and the cosy four-storey dwelling of Casa Netural in the cave town of Matera in Italy that I’d love to visit too.
Gran Canaria as a digital nomad hub
Gran Canaria is growing as a hub for digital nomads, and it makes sense why. The island has all the trimmings of an ideal destination with plenty to do, incredible year-round weather, and excellent infrastructure.
While we spent most of our time co-working at The Roof (honestly, it seemed to have everything we needed during the week), I’ve heard that there are a ton of great co-working spaces and atmospheric cafes to work in Las Palmas too.
When we weren’t at our desks, we’d navigate to other areas of the island to get some serious exploring in.
For the hedonists and adventure-seekers out there, Gran Canaria is a dream. We spent our weekends zooming through the dust and rocks on off-road buggies, hiking across craggy mountains to discover hidden beaches, and indulging in plenty of water sports activities.
But if you prefer a more relaxing ‘workation’, don’t worry. Gran Canaria is home to stretches and stretches of sandy beaches to rest your head on.
Plus, the Spaniards take lunch (and siesta) very seriously. It’s easy to while away your afternoon sipping on fruit-filled sangria and tucking into a mouth-watering tapas spread.
Travelling with Wifi Tribe
I travelled with Wifi Tribe, a company I can genuinely recommend to others. They offer flexible live-around-the-world memberships, where you select different locations to live in one month at a time.
These month-long trips are called chapters. Groups run small to keep bonds between members tight, with a maximum of 25 people per chapter.
On our Gran Canaria chapter, there were 21 of us split into two houses. Most of us work similar nine-to-five hours, so generally, we spent our weekdays working together, then maximised our weekends with plenty of fun and adventure. On weekday evenings, we’d go out for dinners or cook together ourselves.
Travelling with a community has been a complete game-changer for me. Making friends when you’re travelling and working can be challenging, especially when you’re busy during the week. But with co-living, everyone is in the same situation, and many people have that ‘work hard, play harder’ mentality that I appreciate so much.
Now, as I prepare myself to (quite unwillingly) leave the glorious island of Gran Canaria, I’ll go with a bunch of lifelong friends and memories of the unbeatable winter sun and adventure.