Coworking Spaces Abroad
When people decide to work remotely while traveling, one of the first questions they ask is: where should I actually work? An Airbnb? A local coffee shop? The beach? While those are all potential options, Chipp’s a huge fan of using coworking spaces abroad, and we’ll use this article to explain why.
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In addition to writing about his and Jenna’s travel and work adventures, Chipp is a CPA and founder of Walutes Capital, a real estate development and accounting firm. Wearing this “other hat,” Chipp offers real estate investment and development consulting services to clients. If you’d like help with your own real estate investing journey, contact Chipp here to set up an appointment!
What is a Coworking Space?
If you’ve heard of WeWork, you likely know about coworking spaces. Yes, that company may have become the - warranted - butt of jokes about financial mismanagement, wildly unrealistic valuations, cults of personality, etc. But, the coworking model remains as strong as ever.
At its core, coworking addresses a simple business problem common for many start-ups and sole proprietors: balancing the desire to have access to an office with the need to control costs. In other words, these entrepreneurs want the collaborative and productive perks of an office without having to shell out thousands of dollars (or more) per month on a long-term office lease.
Coworking provides a compromise. Instead of you leasing an entire office, you lease a portion of a larger, typically open-concept office from a coworking company (e.g. WeWork, Regus, and countless smaller companies). This way, you can scale the size and duration of your commitment. That is, most places offer daily, monthly, or annual passes for some combination of the following space requirements:
Access to the open coworking space without an assigned desk (i.e. you grab an available spot whenever you’re there)
Access to the open coworking space with an assigned desk
Access to the open space plus a private office for one person
Access to the open space plus a private office for several people
Access to the open space plus a private office suite with several individual offices and its own conference room for larger companies
So yeah, coworking gives you access to a variety of office environments without the commitment and massive overhead of a long-term lease.
Pros to Coworking Abroad
No long-term commitment. When you're working remotely overseas, you likely want to focus on actual travel. If you have to sign a long-term office lease, you inherently tie yourself to one place. With coworking spaces, you can take a pay-as-you-go approach, only paying for access for the time you plan on being in a given city. For example, we spent a month and a half working in Cape Town. During that time, Chipp bought a 15-day access pass to a local coworking space, giving him the flexibility to head there two to three times per week.
Increased productivity. Jenna has the discipline to work from home. Chipp doesn’t. If you fall into this latter category, you likely need an office environment to be productive. Overseas coworking spaces can provide just such an environment to let you maximize your productivity while working, which then maximizes your time to explore a new area.
Introductions to locals. Coworking abroad provides another major perk - a place to meet locals. In every space Chipp joined overseas, he met incredible locals, which inevitably resulted in beers after work, recommendations for things to do, and just great new relationships. Stuck in your apartment - even in the coolest cities in the world - you’ll struggle to find similar connections.
Tech support. Coworking spaces inherently come with their own tech support. If the internet drops, someone there is responsible for fixing it. Printing problems? Same thing. Apartments and hotels don’t have nearly the same level of responsiveness when tech issues arise overseas.
Incidental collaboration. You’re probably not going to bump into your next business partner in an apartment. On the other hand, socializing with fellow coworkers, you may start collaborating with someone at a coworking space. Even if you don’t launch the next gazillion dollar start-up, just being in an environment with other entrepreneurs opens the door to potential professional relationships.
Secure work environment. Coffee shops are great places to meet up, but they leave something to be desired when it comes to secure work environments. Between compromised wifi and the risk of computer snatch-and-grabs, you’re at risk working in a public spot. Conversely, coworking spaces all have some form of access control / security - nice knowing you can run to the bathroom without having to pack everything up and take it with you!
Kitchenette access plus unlimited coffee. Yep, here’s one of the often overlooked benefits of coworking - free coffee! While your hotel or Airbnb may not have a great coffee situation, most overseas coworking spaces include unlimited coffee plus a kitchenette where you can stash some lunch. If you inhale caffeine while working, you’re in luck!
Chipp at a coworking space in Swakopmund, Namibia
Cons to Coworking Abroad
Cost. We’d be remiss not to mention the primary drawback to coworking while abroad - cost. You’re paying for a service, so coworking accordingly costs more than just working wherever you’re staying. However, as a sole proprietor, you can deduct coworking fees as rent on your Schedule C, somewhat offsetting these increased costs with tax benefits.
Commute. Unless your coworking space shares a building with your apartment overseas, you’ll have to commute. Sure, this may be a drawback at home. But, when you’re living abroad, a nice stroll to your coworking spot is just another opportunity to take in a new place!
Privacy. When you buy the most inexpensive coworking access option, you’ll likely find yourself working in an open-concept room with a bunch of other people. If you need privacy for phone calls or any other work tasks, this set-up can be an issue. Fortunately, most coworking spaces offer private offices for rent if you need to block off time for a call.
Bonus: Chipp’s Favorite Overseas Coworking Spaces
Bottom line, we’re firm believers that the pros to coworking abroad far outweigh any cons. And, as an added bonus, here are four of Chipp’s absolute favorite coworking spaces from our travel and work adventures overseas:
Be sure to say hello to the staff if you find yourself in any of these spots, and best of luck taking advantage of the countless, incredible coworking spaces abroad!
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