Ibiza as a workplace? Not as unlikely as you’d think. True, the notoriously hedonistic island is best known as somewhere to escape work, but the club scene is having a midlife crisis, with the closure of the iconic Space last October, followed by the sale of another of its famous clubbing brands, Pacha, to a private-equity firm for €350m (£312m). But the debate over whether Ibiza is turning into the new Monaco has overshadowed another, subtler, cultural transformation: co-working is flourishing — and a growing number of freelancers are waking up to its possibilities.
Co-working is still a new concept on an island where people rarely do today what they can put off until tomorrow. Which explains why Ibicencos have put up with snail-paced internet speeds for years. High-speed broadband only arrived in 2015, and no sooner had it done so than co-working facilities began to appear.
The three main places for co-working are in Ibiza Town, the island’s chic capital, in the streets between the harbour and the walled old town, Dalt Vila. They are Casa del Rey, Cowork Ibiza and, wait for it, Ibiza CoWorking. All are scaled-down versions of big-city spaces, offering flexible price points with drop-in day rates (from £13-£18) up to monthly packages for hot-desking (Ibiza CoWorking is cheapest, from £110 a month) or private offices. Basing yourself in Ibiza is an obvious move if you’re seeking a party lifestyle or are in the dance-music business, but that was not the main attraction for those I spoke to. The common denominator is a better work-life balance, though parties are always there for when the mood strikes.
Here, three members of Ibiza’s co-working scene talk about their working lives and experiences on the island.
The travel PR
Cass Helstrip is the founder of White Tiger PR, a travel PR agency. She left London for Ibiza Town in August 2016
Oh my God, it’s so much happier here, lifestyle-wise. In London, if the weather was crap I’d watch Netflix on my computer or I’d work until 7 or 8pm. I just don’t do that here. Because it’s lighter and warmer in the evenings, I’ll go for a walk outside, or a swim, or go to the beach and read. Contrary to what you might expect, I’ve actually stopped drinking as much because I’m less stressed.
I came out here on business last winter. I found some cheap accommodation for a few days — and that’s when I realised I could do everything here that I was doing back home.
I live near the marina, a 20-minute walk from the old town. It’s a two-bed apartment with a communal swimming pool, so I can sit by the pool and use my laptop. I love it! I have a team of 15 people working for me in the UK, but I always tell them they can come out here and work with me whenever they want.
Sometimes I work in the Feel Good cafe in Ibiza Town. Downstairs it’s all healthy food and green juices; upstairs it has desk space with wi-fi and plug sockets. It’s not officially a co-working space, but it’s full of British freelancers. I buy lunch there too — it’s only 6 or 7 euros.
The theme-park designer
David Wood is founder and creative director of The Thought Foundry, a design company that specialises in themed attractions, from Legoland in Windsor to Madame Tussauds in Vienna. He relocated from Worthing in Sussex to Santa Eulalia with his wife and sons, aged 9 and 11, in January 2016
I rent an office in Casa del Rey, the co-working place in Ibiza Town. I get the bus from Santa Eulalia and it takes half an hour. It’s so social on the bus, everyone talks to each other. It’s funny, I was in London the other week and everyone looked so grumpy on the Tube I nearly talked to someone to see how they’d react. If I’m working late, I have to get the Disco Bus home. It stops at all the clubs. I’m usually the only one going home, but it’s great fun.
I’m the only nine-to-five person in the office. One thing that’s stuck with me is when I ask people what they do, they say, “As little as possible!” I used to laugh about that, but I’m starting to get it now. The other day I had the most fantastic three-course lunch and watched the world go by for 90 minutes.
We’d been living in Brighton for 10 years and had been coming on holiday to Ibiza for 12 or 13 years. We’d talked about moving here, so we decided to give it a go. My clients are in LA, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and China — I can Skype them from anywhere.
It’s still an experiment. We have temporary residence, but we still have a house in the UK, which we’re renting. The hardest thing is that our kids are struggling in school. The lessons are in Catalan, so they’ve been held back a year because of the language. Still, I hope they’ll thank us one day.
But even if it all went wrong tomorrow, I wouldn’t care. If we’d ended up being here for just a week, I’d still think it was brilliant.
The co-working pioneer
Sophie Mac manages Casa del Rey, a co-working space in Ibiza Town. She came to Ibiza 18 years ago on holiday and never left
We opened two years ago, around the time fibre-optic broadband arrived. A lot of people wanted to relocate here, but couldn’t be doing with the flakey internet. Now they can work here and be just as in touch with their offices as if they were back home.
Cheap all-year-round flights from City Airport have made a big difference. People commute now. They fly into Ibiza on a Thursday, then fly back to London on a Sunday night. We get all sorts in the office, from water-purification companies from Belgium who have been working with the town hall, to design guys from the US who wanted to relocate because Chicago winters are so cold.
There’s a promoter who lives in a party house; he comes here to work whenever there’s a rave at home. That happens with the DJs, too — they have to escape the after-parties in their own house! People like coming here because it gives a beginning and end to their working day, in a life that often doesn’t have much routine.
Ibiza can be expensive, but you can live economically. It only costs £2 to get the bus to Ibiza Town from Santa Eulalia. For a two- or three-bedroom apartment in Ibiza Town all year round, you’re talking £1,2o0 a month. Groceries are pretty reasonable if you know where to go. And you don’t have to worry about heating bills!