In the Spanish countryside, which has been facing depopulation for decades, a remarkable transformation is taking place. A new group of residents, digital nomads, have discovered these deserted areas and by co-living are breathing new life into them.
While Spain’s major cities continue to expand, a contrary trend has been observed in the rural villages for many years. Regions such as Castile and León, Galicia, Extremadura, and Asturias are particularly affected, showing alarming rates of population decline. But there is a silver lining as digital nomads, in pursuit of tranquility and space, are flocking to these rural areas. Special organisations and local entrepreneurs are striving to cater to the needs of these nomads, revitalising the once-abandoned regions.
Co-living and co-working spaces flourish in the countryside
Digital nomads can work from anywhere in the world, provided there’s an internet connection. Co-working spaces have become a staple in big cities. Now, rural communities are following suit, even going a step further by establishing co-living houses. These are not just workplaces but homes that form tight-knit communities, offering locally organised activities.
Carles Méndez, a researcher at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), views this as a beneficial trend: “The creation of these places with good infrastructure and activity programs can have a strong pull on rural areas. Those who opt for co-working in the countryside are usually independent entrepreneurs who appreciate the many benefits these spaces offer, particularly in combination with the natural setting.” Moreover, choosing the countryside has financial benefits as the cost of living is lower than in urban areas.
Government collaboration boosts rural revival
In Spain, various co-working organisations and communities are actively working towards the revival of these deserted regions. They often get support and encouragement from the government. Examples include Cowocat Rural in Catalonia and Sierra de la Demanda in Castile. According to Méndez, the success of these rural initiatives is partly due to the efforts of these organisations that have recognised the needs of the environment and tapped into a growing demand in the job market. Furthermore, he attributes success to the financial support and involvement of local and regional authorities. Méndez emphasises: “This support has provided not only the necessary financial resources for establishment and maintenance but has also given the countryside the boost and solid foundation it needed to grow and remain appealing.”