Work and Play - Coworking Bansko
Why are digital nomads choosing this small Bulgarian town out of all the destinations in the world?
Written by Kristina Petkova, edited by Mila Boshnakova, photos by Hristina Hristova
Mursalski chai* and a bunch of digital nomads chilling in the Coworking Bansko Lounge on Sunday afternoon - this is how Matthias and the digital and foreign community in Bansko welcome me. Matthias is the co-founder and owner of Coworking Bansko.
He came from Munich five years ago to Bansko with his partner Uwe and fell in love with the Pirin mountains and the small touristic town. “Here we have gathered people from the whole world - meet Jacob from Canada, Carly from the UK, Jonas from Sweden,” Matthias greets me.
Meet the faces of Coworking Bansko
“I prefer Bansko over Bali”
Jacob just came from Canada, where he is originally from. “It is my second winter in Bansko and I love it. I return here again and again, although I can work from every spot in the world.” On the question of what makes him return to Bansko, his answer comes fast, and without hesitation: “The community!”
You would be surprised, but Jacob says he prefers Bansko over Bali! “Sounds hard to believe, but yes! There is no cohesive community in Bali,” he explains. “There are many coworking places but most of the events organized by them are meant for networking and not to make friends. But in Coworking Bansko it is the opposite - there are regular events and you can actually connect to the other coworkers and build deep, meaningful connections.”
Claudia and Sebastian - Nomad Soulmates
Bali is also an important aspect of our next story. “I was in Bali at the time when I met my future husband-to-be, Sebastian, during the online beta testing of the Nomad Soulmates,” says Claudia, originally from Italy.
Sebastian, originally from Canada, is actually the co-founder of the platform that started as a Facebook group for location-independent singles looking for their soulmates, and quickly grew into the biggest and most engaging Facebook group in its niche, with nearly 11 thousand passionate members.
The team wants to take it to the next level and build an application, which is still in development. “I had already decided I will move to Bansko at the time we started spending time together in person,” Claudia comments. And just like in the most romantic love story, Sebastian stayed in Bansko because of her. Shortly after, they married in Gibraltar, and now they are permanently part of the digital nomads family in Bansko.
Switzerland is almost like… Bansko?
Yanick, originally from Switzerland, develops and provides software for psychotherapists and just arrived in Bansko for the winter season. He is passionate about snowboarding and some friends recommended Bansko to him as the perfect place where he can find a well-established foreign digital nomad community, as well as awesome ski slopes.
“I discovered that I enjoy being a digital nomad recently since the pandemic started. I already worked from the Canary Islands and Lisbon. What has stopped me from doing it until now, was the fear of not having meaningful connections to other people during the constant travels,” he explains. “Since the pandemic started, everyone has been working remotely, that’s why I also started traveling with a group of friends.”
So many opportunities to connect with the other coworkers
Board games on Monday, group dinner every Wednesday, poker night every Sunday, secret hot springs in the forest, comedy, and burgers… Wait, secret hot springs in the forest? Yes, you read correctly!
This is an amazing adventure in a man-made mineral water pool in the middle of the forest. There is nothing else except the pool - no facilities, only the wild nature, so you can have a one-of-a-kind experience. It can be reached only with off-road cars, so even the trip to and from the place is an adventure itself. That sounds like fun!
In addition to the official events organized by Coworking Bansko, the community organizes gatherings on its own. Visiting the hot springs which Bansko is famous for, the ski slopes, or making a presentation and teaching the others what you are good at - the list is long. This is also one of the qualities of the people in this community - they are willing to share skills and learn from each other while also having fun.
Work hard, play hard
The coworkers have various professions. Some of them are digital nomads with well-established businesses, others have start-ups, and there is also a group of remote workers. Have you wondered what the difference is between a remote worker and a digital nomad?
Most of the remote workers are employees with regular working hours and a contract, while the digital nomads have established their own businesses in a way where they can work from every spot in the world.
On my question if there are some Bulgarians around, Matthias says, “Yes, since the COVID pandemic started, we also have more Bulgarians who are remote workers and prefer to escape the buzzing city of Sofia, enjoying the ski slopes and also the convenience of staying in their own country.”
You can join the community at all these locations in Bansko:
Social Space, 2 Toma Vishanov str., Old town
Quiet Space, 6 Toma Vishanov str., Old town
Lounge 51, Tsar Simeon str., Municipal park lot
Gondola 15, Vadar str., inside Belevue Hotel
Playground, In the forest
*Mursalski chai, or mountain tea in English, is a typical and very famous tea from the Pirin mountain region and one of the reasons for the good health and longevity of the local population.
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