Building a Remote Community on Valentia Island

It’s been a wild journey for Grow Remote and we love hearing stories from the various people we’ve met along the way. We recently spoke to Maria about her experience of remote work on Valentia Island.

With the prospect of remote employment on Valentia Island, there is definitely a renewed sense of optimism about the place, particularly  among the younger generations. Regardless of chosen career, everyone should be afforded the opportunity to live where they wish.

For many generations growing up in Valentia Island, this hasn’t always been the case. There is a common saying (half joke) here that you fatten your kids for export. In the past, the choice of staying wasn’t always there, even if the desire to stay here was. Remote working gives people back that choice.

The concept of remote working first started to appear in Valentia about 7 years ago and the local community was quick to see the opportunity and get behind it, converting at first a small number of offices to accommodate 4-5 workers, followed by a separate, dedicated hot-desk space. We are currently in the process, through secured funding, of converting the community owned Cable Station building (which closed in 1966) into a digital hub.

During 2020, many people with connections to Valentia decamped to the Island for the lockdowns and for some it shone a light on what was possible in terms of having the fantastic lifestyle Valentia offers while still being able to progress your career.

Traditionally, a big part of the Island’s economy has been tourism. For the months of July and August, the population swells fourfold. While this is welcome, it is difficult for businesses to sustain themselves year round and some close during the winter months.

By attracting new people/families to the Island, remote working has the potential to create the year-round critical mass needed to sustain services, restaurants, pubs (etc.) and potentially encourage others to open. The result, hopefully, will be a more vibrant and sustainable socioeconomic model for Valentia Island.

Remote working (and COVID 19) also brought about professional opportunities for me, personally. My background is in rural and community development. Through the Grow Remote jobs board, I saw a position advertised with The Wheel which I was lucky enough to secure.

So I now find myself working in a very rewarding job, with a fantastic company and living in an area I love.

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