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Coworking in Bulgaria, Bali, and Beyond

Coworking in Bulgaria, Bali, and Beyond

The majority of my expat life has been spent as an entrepreneur. This often meant renting a two or three bedroom apartment, so I could turn one room into a home office. With the widespread talk about coworking and the creation of coworking spaces around the globe, I took the time to speak to organizers from three to get a little insight on how they came to be and what makes them special.

 

Coworking Bansko, Bulgaria

Bansko_in_the_winter_01

Bansko is a popular ski resort town at the foot of the Pirin Mountains. In the spring and summer, visitors can enjoy footpaths which criss-cross the national park, observe wildlife such as bears and wolves or venture out to the high altitude glacial lakes. The love of this quietly tucked away town is what inspired Matthias E Zeitler, Irina Pandeva, and Uwe Allgauer to launch Coworking Bansko on December 15, 2016. Members feel Coworking Bansko is their second home, welcoming new people who enter the space, shoveling snow in the morning, cooking for the whole group, inviting their friends to Bansko and contributing to growing the community. A Nomad hub like Bansko, with its affordable cost of living and a friendly community, make it very easy to get to know others who have already done this important first step of embarking on the location independent lifestyle.

Matthias, a native of Munich and former member of Coworking Salzburg, loves the comradery built from working with other location independent professionals. “Whenever I travel, I visit the local coworking space, and I find it a great way to meet interesting people.” In fact, he met Uwe two years ago on an 18-day sailing adventure with Coboat, where they turned a catamaran into a coworking space. “This experience inspired us to also do something and after lots of brainstorming we decided to open a coworking space in a ski resort in Bulgaria,” he explains.  “For those who don’t have the courage just to get started, but who crave entrepreneurial freedom,  I would encourage them to visit us for a month and see what being location independent is like,” he continues
basanko

Image Courtesy of Coworking Bansko

He worked and lived in many places, “[The] first as part of my corporate career and then the last few years as a location independent entrepreneur, working on my own business. But I also needed a base, so for the last years I was based in Salzburg, Austria and am now  in the process of shifting to Bansko/Bulgaria.” After realizing he could work anywhere, he joined forces with two other entrepreneurs who understood the need to create a hybrid space which offered the quiet of a home office and the buzz of a coffee shop.

Still in the start-up phase, Coworking Bansko is pretty small, he and Uwe volunteer their time while Irina is the only full-time employee. Opting for a look which blended into the local environment, Mattis explains, “For the first few months, we worked with a lot of local contractors to get our infrastructure up and running. I am especially happy that we had our tables custom made by a local carpenter instead of going down the generic IKEA route.” Although, they do have IKEA EXPEDIT throughout the venue—a universal coworking space staple.

People Come and Go, but the Community is Lasting

“We have some members that have committed to 6-month tickets with some even moving their residence to Bansko. But half of our members stay for one month, which seems to be a good duration for digital nomads to stay in one place,” he writes, reinforcing the cozy and friendly location they have created. They even had a couple return after a quick visit to a nearby destination. “Our space is all about community. Yes, people initially come for our comfy chairs and 100 Mbps internet connection, but they all become part of our Bansko family. We even had some members that organized a meetup in Chiang Mai and Koh Lanta, And, a small group organized a conference in Macedonia.” Mattis and Uwe see the purpose of a coworking space as twofold, providing an environment conducive to work while also building a community of people that care for each other. As he states, “The main goal is not renting out desks.” The office joke is, Coworking Bansko is like the Hotel California where you can check out, but never leave. However, Mattis thinks, “It is more like you always come back, as most of our members that left us are currently planning to get back soon.” 
The website offers all the pricing and great information from what see to how to get tax residency in Bulgaria

Coworking Legian, Bali

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When you say,  “I’m headed to Bali.” It conjures up images of paradise—fine sand beaches, lush rice paddies, mountains and year-round warm weather. The island is just one of 17,000 which make up the archipelago. Backpackers, as well as retirees, know Bali is still one of the more affordable tropical places to make a temporary or long-term home. For the location independent worker and digital nomad Coworking, Legian offers a respite between surfing outings and picturesque hiking trails. Since 80 percent of international visitors to Indonesia visit Bali, the owners at Sara Residence decided it was time to cater to the needs of their digital nomad visitors.  An Indonesian owned boutique hotel—the owners of Sara Residence wanted to accommodate their monthly customer who needed a to work with a high-speed, reliable internet connection. It took off, “It was then after this we realized that we can provide digital nomads lifestyle with a creative coworking space and private office options,” explains Stevan, the manager at Coworking Legian.

coworking bali

Image Courtesy of Coworking Legian

Located in the Legian and Seminyak area this coworking space offers an air-conditioned indoor working area with free usage of a 22-inch monitor, an outdoor pool area, and a private dedicated desk within an enclosed office. Members are allowed to use the hotel facilities including the swimming pool and towel service. The area is can also accommodate groups and networking events. Since they are attached to a hotel, they offer coliving coworking monthly packages. Offering a community environment, Stevan states, “We always create some networking [events]  in this space in order [to help] connect [people to] one and another. With this welcoming sensibility, people stay for anytime from three days to six months.

With an affordable day rate which starts at $7.50, they also offer discounts for parties of 2–10 people. “Our main indoor area can accommodate 30 members. Our Lounges outdoor swimming pool area can accommodate 15 members. Our private office dedicated space is for four individuals,” Stevan explains. For more details, please visit their website.

 

Roam–London, Tokyo, Miami & Bali

Image Courtesy of Roam

Roam is an innovative approach to coliving and coworking, with locations spread across the globe. “We are a co-living space first, with co-working built in! As a team of working travelers, we recognize the importance of reliable internet and a comfortable space to work,” explains Alyisa, the head of global community and part of the Roam founding team.  Understanding that for location independent workers, noisy coffee shops and hotels with spotty to no internet can destroy productivity, they take the guesswork out of the equation. Their first experiment with asking people to give up small traditionally private things such as kitchens and workspaces took place in Bali in 2015. What Alyisa and the team quickly learned was, “We can have more together than we can separately—from shared commercial kitchens to vibrant communities and coworkers with beautiful office spaces built right in.” With a lot of honest feedback about what people needed and wanted they moved from concept to product opening spaces in Bali, Miami, Madrid, London, and Tokyo.

Alyisa, sold her business in 2014, tried out consulting for eight months during which time she realized coffee shops and many coworking spaces were too full of distractions.  For the past two years, she has been on the road, “Our team is completely remote, working from all different locations around the world, none of us have one place we call ‘home,’ but we have local on-site staff in our locations.”

Image Courtesy of Roam

A Sense of Community

According to Alyisa, “The community and collaboration, I felt in the coworking spaces in Bali and Singapore was so special, I didn’t even realize this way of life was possible outside of reading about it. Remote work is a community of its own—you have coworkers and camaraderie built in, you’re all on this journey together. I’ve met hundreds of people this past couple of years. It’s been both inspiring, and eye-opening to have been less deliberate within a community and have it happen so naturally. “People join Roam for 1–3 months or even over half a year because, Community can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look for it, especially when you are traveling. If you ask our Roamers what they value the most, they’ll tell you it’s the people they meet, the inclusivity they feel and the sense of home we are able to provide.”

With building comradery in mind, Roam spaces offer weekly communal dinners, cooking classes, city guides, and skill shares. Whether you are an independent worker or looking for new friends and colleagues, there is something for all types. “In terms of the workspace, the sense of sharing this adventure is strong. People stop and actually eat lunch together, solve problems, share stories, and organize events. To me, it’s the truest form of coworking,” she proudly expounds.  The sense of community is so strong among the four spaces, members are roaming across locations and even planning trips together. “Returning Roamers know what to expect from our properties, and we value creating spaces where people can show up, find their way around and feel comfortable immediately.” This works especially well for those who haven’t traveled much, they have played an instrumental part in journeys of these new digital nomads.  

“I think my favorite feedback is always the same, the sense of home and family we provide.  It doesn’t matter who people are, what their background, they always feel a strong sense of inclusivity when they stay with us,” She concludes.

 Find out more on their website.

About The Author

During my educational and professional career, I have lived on five continents; honed my professional communications skills in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese; and learned the importance of cultural considerations in the development of communications materials.

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