"What if we could embrace remote work while nurturing a deep connection to our roots? What if we could find work-life balance while regenerating rural villages at risk of depopulation?" These were the questions we asked ourselves before the Covid-19 pandemic.
At that time, we observed widespread burn-out and loneliness among city people, along with a critical problem of abandoned villages in Spain. As we dove deeper into the problem, we discovered that rural areas have the potential for a more balanced and harmonious life. However, the recurring issue was that, despite the desire and ability of many city dwellers to work remotely from anywhere, rural areas in Spain were unprepared to accommodate them.
Recognizing this gap, Rooral.Co's co-founder, Juan Barbed, saw an opportunity to bridge it. By partnering with villages at risk of depopulation, Rooral.Co provides the necessary support and expertise to prepare these areas to host remote workers, and thereby promoting regeneration in these villages.
Rooral.Co is a community of coworking and coliving spaces in rural Spain that enables individuals to experience the slow life of working and living close to nature. The name Rooral.Co stems from the words "root" and "rural", inspired by the quote "roots make us free", a phrase that we found particularly resonant in a time of constant travel and movement as digital nomads.
The Appeal of Rural Living
While remote work is on the rise, so is the feeling of disconnection and loneliness in big cities. We saw this as an opportunity to invite people to explore living in villages and reconnect to a sense of warmth and belonging that past rural generations enjoyed.
We found that by taking care of accommodation, local activities, and workspaces, Rooralists could focus on the things that fulfill them: connecting to themselves, a like-minded community and nature. This is how Rooral.Co's well-being pillars were formed.
Living in a rural Spanish village means having nature at your doorstep. Hiking trails and forest walks start from these villages, leading you into the embrace of the wilderness. Time spent in nature has been shown to enhance physical health, mental wellbeing, and longevity, benefits you can experience firsthand when living in a small village. Connecting with yourself naturally occurs when you have the space and time to be alone with your thoughts and find inner peace. This is vital for managing and rebalancing stress levels that may have been overlooked in the hustle and bustle of city life.
In a small rural village, strangers quickly become neighbors, and casual conversations can foster a sense of belonging. Our Rooral.Co community also attracts like-minded individuals seeking a balanced life. Those who join our experiences are usually open, curious, purpose-driven individuals looking for meaningful and authentic connections. You'll find yourself leaving with a community that you can rely on for years to come.
Benefits of Rural Living
At Rooral.Co, the pillars of well-being are connecting with oneself, the community, and nature. According to previous participants, 94% reported that they left with a better and more positive mood due to this focus.
The complexity and stress of modern life often contrast with the simplicity of rural life, which brings our focus back to the present moment.
Whether it's quiet moments in the morning, the rooster's dawn call, casual chats with neighbors, preparing nourishing meals, or creating handicrafts with our community, the stress and anxiety of the past and future tend to fade away.
These are elements of a simpler life lived by previous rural generations, from whom we can learn a lot, especially when living among them.
When our lives are filled with things that matter to us outside of work, we tend to dedicate more time to our hobbies or quality time with our community. This naturally creates more equilibrium between the time we spend doing work and living life itself.
For example in the village, your long commute to work becomes a short walk to the co-working. Your calls can be taken while you take a walk in nature, and your short lunch breaks turn into a community meal at the co-living. Instead of using Netflix as a nightly wind-down routine, you might find ourselves engaged in deep meaningful conversations by a cozy fire with other Rooralists or playing cards with locals.
Living closer to nature also means that instead of shopping for produce, we might pick our own vegetables at the community garden, or even find a gift basket from our neighbor’s abundant harvest. Food scraps, instead of being scraped into the bin, can be collected at the communal compost bin where all gardens can benefit from.
Pulitzer award winning journalist and digital wellness expert, Mar Cabra said, “Rooral.Co has been a way of working remotely without burning out and exhausting myself, sharing time and space with a group of fascinating people has been expanding for me. Besides, doing it close to nature in a small village has provided me with calm and balance.
As Rooral.Co starts to grow in Spain, we will be setting up a permanent base in Benarraba by April 2024, and will continue to offer seasonal pop-ups throughout the year in other villages like Artieda and Oliete.
All of the villages that we work with have the Rooral.Co touch, which means that coworking spaces have access to high speed internet, individual work desks, private rooms for calls, a view looking out onto nature. Needless to say, our experiences come with a warm and inviting community looking forward to host you.
Our co-living spaces consist of hand selected rural homes that are fully equipped and ready to provide a comfortable living during your stay.
The diversity of the villages that we partner with also means that there is an exciting range of local activities to try. This can range from mushroom picking to volunteering in the permaculture garden in Artieda. Goat cheese making to basket weaving in Benarraba, and diving deep into olive oil production or making ceramics from local clay in Oliete.
Rooral.Co's community naturally activates exchanges between Rooralists, as well as with villagers. We have created “Rooral Sessions'' to dedicate time for skill sharing and bridging needs and desires between those who join our experiences. We often find Rooralists mentoring each other with valuable skills that may be their expertise over lunch or a walk in nature.
As we love to bridge gaps at Roora.Co, we have also seen organic collaborations happen between Rooralist and villagers. For example, a Rooralist created a satisfaction survey for a program called “Grow Old in Your Village”. Javier helped to create this digitized survey so that elders can use their Ipad to record their satisfaction with the program, and therefore offer insights on how to improve and continue supporting the aging population in Artieda.
Another of our favorite collaborations is Rooralist artist, Kristinka, who drew portraits of locals in Oliete while on her daily walks around the village. She showcased this in a local exhibition called “Souls of Oliete” where all locals felt seen and acknowledged.
In Benarraba, Rooralist coder, Lora offered digital coding workshops to middle schoolers to show them that they too can make a living as remote workers, and perhaps can stay to work and live in their own villages.
The rich diversity of talents and perspectives that the Rooral.Co community brings is a true gift to all of us.
What Rooral Community has to say?
Over the years, we have had the joy of hosting an active and aligned community that continues to support Rooral.Co’s mission. Our promise of offering experiences that will help you achieve work-life balance is strengthened with their words of praise.
Laura Fernandez, a Social Innovation Consultant said, “Rooral.Co was the most refreshing time of the year. Working from nature, sharing with a vibrant community and finding a healthier balance is possible!” During her time with us, she particularly enjoyed discovering the Pyrenees and spending a lot of time in nature to balance out the hours she spent on her consulting projects.
Others have shared that their experience with us has actually sharpened their focus, and positively impacted their work. Shopify Product Operations Manager, Javier Garcia said, “ I have worked more at ease, focus, and eager without sacrificing the quality of work. All in an environment that has surprised me very pleasantly, both the village and Rooral life.”
Attracting leaders in the sustainability and impact world has been a trend at Rooral.Co Sustainability Director at Ecoalf, Carol Blasquaz shared” Coliving and working in a village has been transformative. Sharing quality time with people with a purpose similar to mine has enriched me on a personal level and filled me with hope about new ways of creating new social and economic models.”
At its core, Rooral.Co is a social enterprise looking to contribute solutions to the rising depopulation of rural areas in Spain, while bridging the gap between remote workers and small villages.
We’ve found a way to offer an experience that allows remote workers to achieve well-being through connecting to self, community and nature in a way that simply brings us back to our roots.
If you’re feeling like there is more to life than running the rat race in big cities and would like to break out of it in search for a more meaningful life, come to the village to work remotely and live rooted in community with us.