I’m currently running my editing business while travelling around Europe with my other half. I’ve been doing so for the past (*counts on fingers*) seven months, and I don’t think I’ll be moving back to the UK until spring 2016.
Before you decide that I must be slacking off, swanning around art galleries and knocking back espressos, let me tell you this: I’m still working as much as I ever did. How? I join coworking spaces around Europe.
Working while travelling is the only way I get to travel so much. So far I’ve lived in Spain, Portugal, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Croatia. I’m travelling slowly, often staying a month in each place. This allows me to get to know a place, explore it during evenings and weekends and still get in a full day’s work during weekdays.
What is coworking?
Coworking is not a new concept, but there are more and more coworking spaces cropping up all over the place. They provide a shared working environment for people working independently from each other. Lots of freelancers and solopreneurs use them, as do digital nomads.
Digital nomadism is a relatively new term used to describe someone who earns a living from their laptop while travelling long term. I must admit, I didn’t set out to become a ‘digital nomad’, but discovered the term and the community that comes along with it while researching my trip online.
How does coworking help?
Coworking has been a bit of a revelation for me. I always thought I needed solitude to do my best work. Turns out I just need a good chair, some earphones and a respectable level of quiet. As long as the office isn’t too far from where I’m staying, a short commute doesn’t bother me.
In fact, it can be quite nice. My favourite commute was a 15-minute walk through the wide, white-paved streets of Prague, past cute cafés and restaurants and rows of pastel-coloured buildings with decorative facades.
Arriving in a foreign country and not knowing anyone can feel very lonely, but going to a coworking space means I get to meet friendly, English-speaking people. Every now and then I’ll join in with an event, but just saying hello and being around people is enough for me most days.
Two of the best events organised by the coworking spaces have included: a trip to Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Hungary, for a day sailing – paid for an organised by Kubik in Budapest; and a day trip to Klis Fortress (where they filmed some of Game of Thrones) and Solin, a pretty little Croatian town that houses some Roman ruins – organised by Amosphera in Split.
For me, though, the best thing about going to a coworking space is that I achieve more of a mental divide between work-life and home-life that I’d previously struggled to find when working from home. I’d love to find a good, affordable coworking space in the UK when I return. (Hit me up with any recommendations!)
Coworking spaces I’ve used in Europe
Here are all the coworking spaces I’ve been to in Europe, and what I thought of them:
WorkINcompany – Seville, Spain
I loved this place. It’s in the heart of the small city, and is spacious and modern. The people are so friendly, and made a big effort to chat to us in English. Every few weeks, we were invited to a shared tortilla lunch in the office, which was the best tortilla I’ve ever had! As my first experience in a coworking space, it certainly set my coworking expectations high.
Kubic – Budapest, Hungary
Kubic felt incredibly up-market! It was a beautifully branded and stylised space in a really nice part of the city, right next to the river. People were less chatty, and mostly worked quietly, but we’d often talk to the staff. There was a cafe area where you could get nice coffees and pastries. Plus, the sailing day they organised was fantastic – one of my best memories from all the travelling I’ve done so far.
Locus – Prague, Czech Republic
Another great coworking space. We chose it over the larger, internationally branded Impact Hub also available in Prague because we preferred the smaller, friendlier atmosphere. (And they had air-conditioning during a heat wave!) The space had two locations: one was originally an apartment space, so the layout felt a little odd; the other was in a larger, open-plan loft-like space with great views. (We preferred this one!) Lots of socialising activities were organised, including a weekly coffee break, lunch and monthly poker night.
Amosphera – Split, Croatia
A very friendly, sociable atmosphere. The manager, Tomislav, was always happy to help you – with anything! There was always a lot going on here, as coworking was a relatively new venture for this company – they also ran workshops and talks about starting and running businesses, and had a fantastic youth club. The location was very much away from the beautiful Old Town area of Split, and felt a lot more industrial. We would catch a (seemingly randomly timetabled) overcrowded bus from our apartment in the mornings, and walk the half hour back along the stunning seafront – my favourite commute home by far!
Coworking Split – Split, Croatia
Just before we left Split, another coworking space opened up! We were invited along to try it out, and really loved it. It’s a much smaller space than Amosphera, but is beautifully styled, quiet and cosy. It has great chairs (such a plus, for me!) and is in a really nice location, a 10-minute walk from the Old Town and a 2-minute walk to the coast. The owners, Carly and Miguel, are super nice, too!
Right now, I’m typing this from a small city called Zadar in Croatia. I’m here for a few days and working from a desk in the apartment. Our next month-long destination will be Málaga, Spain, where I’ve already scoped out a few coworking possibilities.
If you’ve ever used a coworking space, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Or if you have a question about coworking spaces in Europe, ask away!