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 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.
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.
People Come and Go, but the Community is Lasting
Coworking Legian, Bali
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.
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
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.”
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.