The first week in Coworking Bansko, Home for Digital Nomads

Yesterday was my one week anniversary in Coworking Bansko. Let’s pretend for today that we live in the universe where such a thing makes sense. The week has gone fast with trying to get oriented, get to know people and still get some work done. After three months talking mostly with creatures who have paws and tails, it has been a culture shock, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Coworking Bansko front door

The Bansko town is wrapped in the off-season quiet and looks a few sizes too big for the number of people on the streets. Turns out that coworking space with its nomads’ influx makes a notable difference. With approximately 40 digital nomads who rent apartments, buy food and keep up an active social life can actually make a difference to a small town economy.

Whenever walking around the town or back to my now-home, I almost always bump into one or another coworking member. Also, there is almost always some or another social event organized to give the members time to socialize. I’ve been out with others for two lunch, visited hot-spring, had an evening of yoga, participated in a weekly BBQ  and a housewarming. As people in digital-nomad residence change often everyone is relaxed, welcoming and friendly. The odds are that a person showing you around may have arrived less than a month ago is leaving in a week or two. Everybody remembers how it feels like to be ‘the new guy’ so the newcomers are included without making a big fuss over it. It takes a bit of a discipline to keep good work-time social-time ratio, but as many events are regular things there is no need to panic about missing out.

By now I have got a better look at the actual rooms and conditions around here. The interior theme is bright orange, including a lot of desk space and enough electric sockets. The work area is divided between two neighboring buildings located across the local school. Last becomes a nuisance right after the school is let out but eventually, the kids leave and it restores the daily peace.

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There are three rooms, social space, quiet space and a large basement that have no natural light but is well lit and has two long work desks. I find it a great help to swap a working spot when I feel like I am stuck and need a change. Social space can be more crowded than quiet space. Social space is where people bounce ideas, share experiences, accept phone calls and just chat about daily events when they need a break. Quiet space is where you go when you need to hammer out a solution and focus on a task in hand.

While it’s a coworking, not a coliving space members have rented their own apartments with an occasional help from old-timers. Securing the most suitable lodging is a repeating conversation among members, right after avocados and vegans. There is always somebody who has just moved into a new place while another is searching for a suitable apartment.

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With the cheapest real estate price in Europe and the European Union, it‘s not a wonder that digital-nomads also consider buying an apartment here. It‘s a tempting idea, to own an apartment that you can use as a base camp close to a really active coworking space where all the information and the ‘right people’ come. Same time it could be rented out to other digital nomads while you yourself are traveling.

In theory, the idea sounds nice and tempting. However, Michael and Brent adventures with apartments in Bansko can cool anybody’s dream of becoming a home-owner. As it turns out they are living in the third apartment over a short time. They left the first place when neighbors got bed-bugs, escaping before being infected. The second apartment had some electrical issues and no smoke detectors. With a logical inevitability and bad luck, they one day opened a second bathroom door to be greeted by a black smoke that burst into flames with the fresh supply of oxygen. When calling 112 to realize that they don’t actually know the address of the apartment (more common in small towns than one would think). To add to the chaos, they had forgotten (or never knew) the Bulgarian word for ‘fire’. When they tried to alert neighbors they only got confused looks. Eventually, the emergency service manages to locate them and the fire was put out with surprisingly little damage to the property and without any loss of a human life or health. Both guys are now determined to add portable smoke and CO detectors to their nomad travel equipment.