If you go tomorrow to one capital city, like Beijing or Stockholm there is a big chance that you will be lonely there.
But if you go to any proper coworking and coliving space, the very first night you will be sitting in the company of people who might become your friends for life
The business of a coworking and coliving space is not renting beds. It’s to combat the loneliness of digital nomads.
The biggest (and most visible) difference between a coliving space and a hotel is that a coliving space comes with friends while Airbnb and hotels are lonely spaces.
When a digital nomad arrives at our coliving space (Sende) we show them a room and leave their backpack.
Then they ask: Hey Maria, how come you don't lock the room and the house?
(After 24h they stop asking this question and you will learn why in a moment).
Then we go for a short walk to show other spaces around the village while meeting neighbours and other colivers on our way.
This onboarding/welcome tour often ends in the big kitchen where 2 to 4 other digital nomads are preparing the big dinner for everyone (yes, every evening someone else cooks for everyone, and I think it's beautiful).
By the time we reach the kitchen, this newcomer has already met at least 10 other digital nomads and maybe a few neighbours during the first 20 minutes in the village.
And if it happens that someone is cooking at the given moment, we hand a knife and onion to this person in case they would like to help out and chat around while cooking and listening to music in the background. OK, probably accompanied with a cold beer or a glass of wine.
Then we all enjoy a long Spanish dinner that usually lasts around 3 hours, where we eat, chat, share, laugh, and often play games.
This person who arrived only 4 hours ago has already met 20 new people, remembered a few names, helped in the kitchen, had a nice dinner with local wine, and enjoyed their first hours as a “new member of the community” in a place which will be their home for the next month.
At this very moment, this person could say: Luckily I didn’t book that hotel in Stockholm, because I would be sitting near the window with my phone in my hand.
By the end of the month, it is very common that colivers who met for the first time in Sende to continue traveling together around the world.
Right now there are 8 people who met in Sende and moved to spend a month together in Javea and Denia. Some of them are staying in Sun and Co. coliving space, while others have rented apartments. They organize B-Days and dinners every week.
It means that 9 people from 8 countries are enjoying their local and social life in a foreign country at the moment. Just because of the magic of being part of the community, only a month earlier.
Last year another 8 people rented a huge house near Setubal in Portugal to spend a winter together. And all of them met in Sende for just one month and made the decision to move to Portugal together.
Did you have a chance to go camping with other kids (like a youth program), where you had a hard time saying goodbye to your new friends at the end of the camping?
We like to compare that a coliving is like camping for digital nomads.
As you probably noticed, our coliving space is not just about working remotely. It’s more about eating well together :)
We use the kitchen and cooking together as a tool to bond. The kitchen is like a magnet where everyone gathers without pulling someone's hands.
But the kitchen and dining together is not the only space where we bond.
Part of community building is personal growth, a space where we learn from each other.
In Sende we have so-called Hat talks, started by a coliver Roy, a few years ago. Hat talks are like Ted talks with a hat where anyone can apply to deliver a 30 minute talk around 19:00, right before the dinner.
Our community organized more than 80 talks, where we could learn more about product building, keyboard shortcuts, video games, arcades, plants, UX, building houses, photography, mental health, travels, etc.
Sende is designed so that colivers (like you) are in charge of organising programs, from hiking in the mountains, surfing trips to Portugal, yoga mornings, or visiting local markets in the area.
Instead of us (who run the place) deciding what people want, the community is in charge of shaping their experience according to their own needs.
Our space in Spain is located far in the mountains, so it was difficult to bring high-speed internet during the first 6 years (now it's fixed luckily).
But it was super curious that we almost didn't have any cancelations because of the terrible internet, which is kind of strange because we are in the business of providing digital nomads internet connection so they can work.
It took me a lot of time to understand why this internet issue is not a big deal for our guests. Then I realized that most digital nomads who come to stay in our place are not looking for an internet connection, they are looking for human connection while their work is a side thing.
A community is a place where you can find people you can trust.
When I visited one rich complex with houses and apartments in Portugal, with my friend and architect Ze, where everything is built from scratch I saw security guards and cameras everywhere.
And I asked Ze why there is so much security?
He answered: People live here, but there is no real neighbourhood. People who live here don't care a lot about each other, they just live in comfortable houses and go to work every day. So there is not enough trust among neighbours and they need to hire guards.
You asked why houses and rooms in Sende are open?
Because there is a real neighbourhood where our 20 villagers are our human cameras, where we respect, help and protect each other every day.
And when digital nomads come to Sende, we don’t bury them with a lot of “house rules” but we do say one thing: Please respect our neighbours, because we are part of their community and their neighbourhood and this is your home this month, so you are one of us.
In Sende, we try to simulate the relationship of our neighbours in order to create a “natural” community where friendship will happen by itself.
That’s why we don't lock houses. Neighbours and the digital nomad community are one big safe space.