After scouting the world to find the best place for location independent entrepreneurs, I moved to Bansko in Bulgaria

flickr photo by Sitomon shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

During the last 15 years, I have lived in 6 different countries, often in amazing places like Munich, London, St. Petersburg, Salzburg and the Silicon Valley. And I traveled to at least 35 more countries to explore what the world has to offer. 
But now some of my friends are wondering why I moved to a Bansko, a small mountain village in Bulgaria, of all places and I will share with you how I decided that Bansko is the best base for a location independent entrepreneur.
Can I work from anywhere? Yes, I can work wherever I travel, however long-term residency is different. I need to register my business, like to have an office, have real health insurance, store my stuff somewhere and don’t like to travel all the time. So a base is required and for me the following factors are important, let’s see how Bansko stacks up:
Visa / Residency / Legal:
 Bulgaria is part of the EU, so no problem for EU citizens to reside here. And as part of the EU, running a business is totally above board, compared to a lot of nomad solutions like “perpetual traveler” or “flag theory”

Startup Ecosystem:
Even though there are not a lot of local funds and grants, startups have access to a lot of European funding opportunities. This wasn’t a major aspect for me as my business OpenStrom is an Austrian company, but in the future I might want to explore funding for other ventures.
 10% flat income tax (business & private) and capped social security contribution at max. €260 per month seem like a fair proposal to me. The infrastructure is a little bit less developed than in other European countries and you shouldn’t expect lots of social services, but more money in your pocket means more freedom.

Cost of living:
 Compared to my last place of residence, Salzburg, everything here is about half of what I payed in Salzburg. With €500 you can live easily in Bansko, a €1000 gives you a very comfortable life style. A lunch menu starts at €2 and even in a more upscale restaurant I rarely spend more than €20 for dinner including drinks. 
 Apartments are available from €100 per month and you can even buy one starting around €10,000

Travel options:
 Sofia is a 2 hour drive away and a major destination for Ryanair and Wizzair with lots of cheap flights throughout Europe starting from €10. Also Etihad has a lot of good deals towards SE Asia.

Bansko is very close to Greece, Turkey, Macedonia and other Balkan countries, so a good base for road trips. And honestly, I have barely covered the Balkan in past travels, so I am looking forward to learn more about this interesting region.

Coworking Space / Community:

I love coworking to meet interesting people, share ideas and do fun stuff together. Whenever I travel I look for a coworking space before I decide on accommodation. While there are some coworking spaces in Bulgaria, there wasn’t one in Bansko. So my buddy Uwe, our chief coworking panda Irina and I decided to open Coworking Bansko.

And it shapes up to become a pretty nice community already, even though it is only open since December.

But all this is not why I came to Bansko, as there are other places that also tick a lot of the boxes.

Why I came to Bansko is the amazing landscape, the rich history and the favorable climate. Bansko is surrounded by three mountain ranges Pirin, Rila and Rhodope. In the winter this means lots of skiing and winter sports in the fully developed resort with 100% snow cannon coverage. In the summer, there is hiking, mountain biking, camping and so much more in this rugged environment. The summers are much warmer and less rain compared to the Austrian alps. And there are no mosquitoes here.

It is a great combination of a tourist spot with all the infrastructure and this historic small village atmosphere that lured me to make Bansko my home and I have the feeling that others will follow soon.

PS: Some people asked me about internet. There is 150 MBit symetrical fibre in the coworking space and 4G coverage with ~50 MBit throughout the village. So plenty fast for online businesses :-)