I spent some time as a digital nomad in a charming picturesque Bulgarian town called Bansko. It was quite an experience.
Bansko is a ski town, surrounded by beautiful mountains. It’s small, peaceful and serene, with spectacular views and an enchanting Old Town.
The town has a lively community of digital nomads, freelancers and entrepreneurs, thanks to the local coworking space, Coworking Bansko.
Coworking Bansko has a volunteer program called Nomad in Residence, where digital nomads volunteer at the space in exchange for an apartment and access to the coworking space with its super fast wifi 😉
How I found myself at Coworking Bansko
I first heard about Coworking Bansko from my friend Nina, an experienced traveller and a talented artist.
She stayed in Bansko and volunteered at the coworking space herself.
It got me curious and I ended up following her recommendation and applying for the program.
I’d been to Bulgaria before, but never to Bansko, so I had to learn a bit about this new destination.
Bansko is a popular ski resort during winter and a nice hiking a climbing destination in summer.
It’s about 2.5 – 3 hours’ drive from both Sofia, the capital, and Plovdiv, the second-largest city in Bulgaria. That’s also where the nearest airports are.
I arrived in Bansko from Thessaloniki, Greece. It took me about 4 hours by bus (with one change) and it was a pleasant ride with very nice views along the way.
My first impressions of Bansko
My first impressions of Bansko was that it was simply gorgeous! The town is in a valley, at the foot of Pirin mountains.
Everywhere you look, you’ll see snow capped mountains and truly stunning views. It looks like a postcard 🙂
It’s very easy to get around because the town is pretty small.
I arrived in spring, the low season after ski season is over, so the place was amazingly quiet and peaceful.
There were few cars on the road and they all drove very slowly, like there’s no need to rush… Everything is calm and slow paced.
The peace and quiet felt just incredible for me, coming from a big city. Each day as I went out the door, the first thing I saw was a huge forested mountain with a snowy peak. What a way to start the day!
Another important thing to know about the town of Bansko is that it is a very affordable place.
Bulgaria in general has a low cost of living and it’s certainly one of the best budget-friendly destinations in Europe these days.
That low cost of living, in conjunction with the peacefulness and the beautiful nature, all make it a really great place to clear your head forget about the hustle and bustle of hectic city life.
I feel that this atmosphere contributed a lot to my ability to get things done in Bansko – more about that later. First I’ll tell you a bit more about the coworking space itself.
Coworking Bansko – The work spaces
I came to Bansko thanks to Coworking Bansko and I’m glad I did. I discovered a very unique community that made my visit really special.
There are three coworking spaces that are part of Coworking Bansko. One is a social space: two floors, desks and sofas, a meeting room and a great space for social activities.
People who work at the social space can chat with each other while working and it doesn’t disturb others too much.
The social activities are varied and take place almost every evening. On the day I arrived there was a workshop by one of the members.
On other days there were movies nights, game nights, lectures and workshops, potluck dinners, trips to the hot springs nearby and so on. As a member you can also initiate activities if you like.
The other space, just down the street, is the quiet space or the productive space. That’s where you go to work in silence. It also has a private room for phone calls.
The third location is closer to the Gondola ski lift, while the others are near the Old Town. During ski season it’s a convenient place to work from for those who are into skiing and snowboarding.
Each of the locations has wonderfully fast wifi and the most comfortable ergonomic chairs you could ask for!
There are kitchens with free tea and coffee (I was on a break from coffee during my stay, but was told the coffee is really excellent. One of the guys said he was looking forward to that coffee every day…).
Most of the time I worked in the social space, because it was nice to talk with people while we were working.
Most of the time the social space is pretty quiet, though I found that I could easily focus even if there were some people talking around me.
The volunteer work at Coworking Bansko
I volunteered at Coworking Bansko as a content writer. Part of my work was interviewing members, which was quite fascinating.
There’s a nice variety of digital nomads, freelancers and entrepreneurs at Coworking Bansko and I enjoyed getting to know them and listening to their stories.
Some were just at the beginning of their digital nomad journey, while others have been doing it for a long time.
Some stayed in Bansko just for a short while, and others stayed for a few months or more.
Quite a few nomads ended up buying properties in Bansko and turned it into their new base in Europe.
The volunteer program requires 1-2 hours of work per day, so you have plenty of time to explore Bansko and work on your own projects.
The people you’ll meet at Coworking Bansko
The people make Coworking Bansko what it is. It’s a lively community that’s very, very welcoming.
You’ll feel like you’re part of it form the very start. My impression was that newcomers remain newcomers for maybe a day or so… after that they just naturally feel like part of the community.
Members are super helpful and kind to each other. There are many opportunities to collaborate, exchange ideas, get advice and share your own knowledge.
Meeting people from many different countries was a very refreshing experience. Each had a different story about what brought them to this Bulgarian town.
Once you join the coworking space as a member, you’ll be added to a private Facebook group for members. It’s where you’ll find all the latest info on events etc.
I met many members at the weekly potluck dinner, where we stayed up until the late hours chatting and enjoying ourselves. It’s easy to make new friends when you have the best conditions to do that.
Because Bansko is a small town, you will meet your fellow members on the street or at the shop almost every day. It’s a nice feeling and always good to see a familiar face in a foreign place.
You quickly come to expect everyone to be laid-back, friendly and smile at you.
The team behind Coworking Bansko put a lot of effort into making it what it is, with a lot of emphasis on the social aspect.
I mean, you can find ergonomic chairs and fast wifi elsewhere in the world, but the unique feeling of the Bansko community is priceless.
I also liked the anti harassment policy displayed clearly on the site. Indeed, I experienced zero incidents of harassment at the coworking space and felt very safe there.
The Coworking Bansko manifesto includes ideas like: collaboration over competition and friendship over formality.
The manifesto is not just a list of empty statements. You can feel its effects on a daily basis.
It’s obvious that with a manifesto like that, you know that the experience you’ll have in Bansko will be one of real connection.
Getting things done – Coworking Bansko style
I am generally a pretty productive person. I have been teaching other people productivity methods and tricks for several years now.
But when I arrived at Coworking Bansko I felt my productivity soar, literally within a day or two after joining the coworking space.
I’ve worked at coworking spaces in the past, but those were typically in big cities. Bansko was different.
It’s such a laid-back, low-key place that made me feel relaxed right from the start. Feeling relaxed has a lot to do with productivity.
As a digital nomad who’s both a freelancer and an entrepreneur, I’m juggling a lot of tasks, but no matter how many balls you have in the air at any given moment, being able to focus without stress is what will ultimately determine how much you will achieve.
I feel that Coworking Bansko contributed to my productivity partly because it’s set in a quiet and peaceful location; partly because the space itself is super comfortable to work from (those ergonomic chairs!) and partly thanks to the other members.
Being surrounded by people who are so engaged in their work and enthusiastic about their projects all day long is simply motivating.
I saw how other members were working on their projects with great passion, which was very inspiring.
If you need motivation to work on your own projects, all you have to do is look around you and see how hard everyone else is working!
Having conversations with people about what they do and telling them what I do had a really good effect of pushing all of us to pursue our goals.
Accommodation in Bansko
As a nomad in residence, I stayed at an apartment provided by Coworking Bansko.
It’s a one bedroom apartment with a large living room in a modern building
I really enjoyed my stay there and found it very convenient and comfortable.
It was about 15 minutes away from the social coworking space. To get there every day I walked along the river, with its mini waterfalls and the mountains in the background, and it was simply gorgeous.
For those who come to Bansko not as part of the volunteer program, there are many different options to rent apartments in the area.
Have everything organised for you
Coworking Bansko provide several packages that include accommodation, as well as other things you’ll need when you arrive, such as transfer from the airport, a local sim card and more.
I think it’s the most convenient option, especially if you’re new to Bansko. Find out the current prices and details on the Coworking Bansko website. Look for the “Easy Landing Pack”.
Search for accommodation yourself
With Bansko being a popular ski resort, there are plenty of hotels, B&Bs and other places to stay all over the town. Have a look at TripAdvisor to get a better idea of what’s on offer.
The Guide to Bansko has some more options and recommendations, including a nice flowchart to guide you according to the season and how long you want to stay. It’s a PDF document you can get by email when you sign up on the Coworking Bansko website.
How to find out more about Coworking Bansko
If reading this article makes you want to visit Bansko, go to the Coworking Bansko website.
You’ll find details on the current rates and “easy landing packs” on offer.
I recommend you sign up on the site to receive the Guide to Bansko – it’s a concise PDF guide that will be emailed to you straight away, with a lot of useful info.
To apply for the Nomad in Residence program, read the full details here.
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