The Bansko Magnet: Transforming Nomads into Residents

by Louise Cottrell

I recently arrived in Bulgaria with the plan to volunteer at Coworking Bansko for just a month. That was the minimum commitment required, and after moving around so frequently over the last two years of being a nomad, I was happy for the opportunity to settle down for a while in one place (one month being “a while” according to my track record).

View from my window at Coliving Bulgaria on top of the coworking space

But as with all plans to ‘stay a while’, I kept a backup plan hidden up my sleeve — take off again to travel the neighboring countries and further afield as soon as possible.

After all, the great affair is to move, right?

I had met Matthias in a Chiang Mai teppanyaki restaurant back in December and I was taken aback by his presumptuous declaration that I too would make Bansko my home. Now I realize that Matthias knows all too well about the Bansko Magnet and how easy it is for a nomad like me to fall for this obscure Bulgarian ski town!

After only a few days in Bansko, it became clear to me why my fellow travelers are buying up apartments, cars and Bulgarian business licenses in this small, provincial mountain town that few have heard of outside of nomad circles.

Read on for some stories of Coworking Bansko community members who have also been (happily) trapped by the Bansko Magnet:

Ine, Belgium
“I just came for one night to Bansko to visit a friend while passing in Bulgaria. He showed me the (empty) coworking space, and the energy there blew me away. I knew I had to come back. So I did a few days later for 10 more days, then I decided I had to come back to live there for at least 3 months. I had been traveling for months before I came there and I really found a home there, a family and community that made me want to settle down for a while. The people inspire me in my entrepreneurial ideas and it’s amazing to live in a conscious community at the same time.”
Emma, Zimbabwe / Australia
“We were looking for a base to slow travel Europe from for a few years and Bulgaria ticked a lot of boxes. We hadn’t really had a set plan of how long we wanted to be in anyone place but once we came to Bansko and met the Coworking community we felt like we were home! We have been here since September and haven’t managed to do much exploring of Europe because its hard to leave Bansko when there are so many good things happening. I love that there are interesting things like arial yoga and snowboarding in winter and lots of festivals and out door activities in summer and most of all an awesome community to enjoy it all with!”
Tobias, Germany
“The first time I came to Bansko together with a friend, who heard about the coworking space from others. We wanted to check it out for a couple of days. Then I came alone for a month, to get to know the community a bit better. I made that decision after my first visit, even though I didn’t plan to stay in Bansko before coming to Bulgaria. I am in the process of organizing my comeback & building a base in Bansko — simply because I loved the location & the community. Plus, it just makes a lot of sense financially speaking. I love the mountains, air quality, peacefulness, high-speed internet connection, cheap prices and most important: the community. You can be highly productive while at the same time taking the stress out of your life — that’s invaluable. “
Jenny, Australian/British
“I came to visit a friend who is here for the ski season and is a digital nomad. I had a one-way flight but didn’t think I’d stay for more than a week. I met a guy from the co-working space, we had some drinks, discussed the tax benefits of living in Bulgaria and both decided to go look at cheap apartments here the next day. A few days later we bought an apartment together (it increased our budget and quality of the apartment!), and now we plan to stay here for the next six months to get our tax residency. I really like the community — expat and local — it’s a very welcoming and friendly place to be. There’s always something to do. I’m not so much into cold weather, but very much looking forward to the summer months when the hiking trails and surrounding areas will be beautiful.”
Ricardo, Germany
“I was researching Coworking Spaces in Bulgaria, came for two weeks and immediately decided to come back after a few days. In my opinion the nature and people here are amazing. I was only expecting a coworking space in the mountains, and found an amazing community vibe, that pulled me back several times until I decided to stay. Since I am here I found the most amazing girlfriend and more wonderful people. And I managed the step from being a freelancer in Performance Marketing to running a small agency with 4 people involved. Bansko seems to be a small town, but it offers way more then people would expect at first sight!”
Jean, Winnipeg / San Francisco
“Originally, I came to Bansko for the great WiFi and love of mountains, thinking I would stay a month. I was so warmly welcomed by the community we have, especially Coworking Bansko and Opa restaurant. Irina gave me a gracious welcome on her day off so I could test out my teaching work in the Skype room and all went very well. I began to fall in love with the gorgeous Pirin mountains, soaking in mineral springs and enjoying delicious meals in the old town with my new coworking buddies from all over the world. Outdoor adventures abound, my work is going well, and I have a great life here, so it was easy to decide to stay for six months and enjoy more of what Bansko offers. Come join us and see for yourself!”

Like the others, I too have fallen head over heels for this obscure little town. At the heart of it, the Bansko Magnet is not merely about the nature, the food or the cost of living that justify a trip up to the mountains of Bulgaria, but the amazing community that Uwe and Matthias have created here, from their own hearts and good foresight.

I’ve already extended my initial stay by three weeks, and despite some pre-planned adventures I’m obligated to partake in this spring (being a nomad is such a hard job), I can’t wait to come back and make Bansko my summer base in Europe!

About the author:
Louise is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, but has been living the expat-nomad lifestyle since 2008. To support her adventures, she works in Pinterest marketing and in the blockchain space. She travels the world, enjoying life and spreading cheer to all who cross her path.