Since it first started around ten years ago in the US, co-working has become increasingly popular around the world, with co-working spaces popping up absolutely everywhere, from Argentina to India and from Amsterdam to Thailand. The specifics of each set-up may vary, but the core essentials remain the same everywhere – a shared working space for people who aren’t necessarily part of the same company or even industry, and a community that is built around this space and that shares expertise and other resources.Naturally, the rise of co-working is a fantastic development for expats, many of whom tend to be freelancers or independent workers of various sorts. In addition to the isolation that freelancers normally deal with, expats who work independently must also deal with the isolation of being in a completely new country. Settling into a new place can be particularly difficult when you don’t even have colleagues. For freelance expats, having access to a co-working space means an opportunity to work in a more stimulating and less distracting environment than their homes, and an opportunity to connect with other independent workers in their city.
Expats in small towns and cities may not always have the option available, but as long as you’re in a city, it will probably be fairly easy to find and join a co-working space almost anywhere in the world. Here are ten of the best co-working spaces around the world that you might want to try.
The Surf Office – Portugal, the Canary Islands, USA
Plenty of expats move to a new country partly due to a love for the country’s beaches. And if you’ve travelled across the world for the beaches, it seems a waste to enjoy them only on weekends or vacations. The Surf Office essentially lets you work at the beach, especially if you’re at their US location in Santa Cruz, San Francisco – this co-working space is an actual beach villa! However, all three locations maintain the beach vibe, with plenty of actual beach activities, ranging from yoga to beach volleyball. The idea at every location is to allow people to both work and play.
As far as work goes, all of The Surf Office locations have high-speed internet, a work area and a leisure/recreation area, meeting rooms, projectors and printers, a professional community, and a number of other facilities and perks. In addition, they also offer accommodation, with shared kitchens and bathrooms, and their own housekeeping service – after all, in a workspace like this, most people don’t want to leave.
WeWork – USA, Israel, UK, the Netherlands
WeWork is one of the biggest, most well known co-working companies around. It has its headquarters in New York City, but it has co-working spaces at 56 different locations across the world, in 17 cities in four countries – the US, Israel, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. The UK and the Netherlands have WeWork spaces in only one city each – unsurprisingly, in London and Amsterdam – but there are multiple locations in both cities. In Israel, there are two WeWork spaces in Tel Aviv, and one each in Be’er Sheva and Herzliya. All the other locations are in the US, in cities including Chicago, Austin, Portland, and Seattle.
WeWork has two main membership packages – a $45 per month membership, with flexible, on-demand access to Commons-friendly spaces at all their locations, and a $450 per month package, with 24/7 access to a dedicated desk or a private office for a team of any size. Other intermediate packages also exist, although not every package is available at every location. However, all of WeWork’s spaces have high-speed internet, access to the WeWork online professional network, access to the kitchen and free coffee, and plenty of other perks and benefits, including access to the recreation spaces and workshops, healthcare, web hosting, gym membership, and the annual summer retreat.
B Amsterdam – The Netherlands
The unique and unusual building in which B Amsterdam is housed was once the headquarters of IBM. After IBM left, the space remained mostly unused for a long time, until it finally turned into the exciting, innovative co-working space it is now. It’s also huge – a few thousand meters of space over several floors, some of which are still being developed. The various spaces in the building include office and desk spaces, meeting rooms and conference rooms, and even a photography studio.
B Amsterdam is extremely welcoming, collaborative, and community-driven, with regular events and workshops, a health club, and even a rooftop garden where members can grow vegetables and herbs. The rates for membership vary depending on the package, which can range from an individual, flexible, full-time space to an individual, flexible space for only five days a month, and from a 150 square meter unit for multiple workers to an entire customized office space.
CocoVivo – Panama
CocoVivo takes the beach and relaxation theme even further – this unique and delightful co-working space at the southern tip of Isla de San Cristóbal, an island in Panama’s northwest, seems like the perfect spot for a vacation (which it is), but it’s also a wonderful co-working space. They have two cabins that are actually on the water (on stilts) and one house on a hill overlooking the lagoon, with rooms for accommodation, indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, co-working spaces, Wi-Fi, and a projector. When you need a break, instead of hitting the gym or a game room, you can simply go swimming or paddle boarding, take a hike or a horse ride, or even just sit back and soak in the view.
Of course this isn’t for everyone – first of all, it’s not like expats living in Panama City can simply pop down to CocoVivo for work on a regular basis, and besides, we’re not sure how much work we’d get done at such a gorgeous location. However, for those who are more disciplined and who need a co-working business retreat, CocoVivo is perfect.
Agora Collective – Germany
Agora is a multi-faceted, arts-focused workspace in the centre of Berlin. According to the description on its website, Agora “hosts people and projects based on a philosophy that reflects the values of its community: diversity, self-organisation and social ties”. Although the focus is on artists of various types, the bright and airy co-working spaces that are spread across five floors with huge, cheerful windows are open to professionals of all kinds. The facilities include Wi-Fi, printers, meeting rooms, and a choice between a “vibrant” floor and a silent floor.
You can also choose to either take a day pass or choose one of the more long-term options, such as five days a month or a full-time, fixed desk. There are also workshops at Agora, on topics ranging from Japanese flower arrangement to urban permaculture, as well as musical events, exhibitions, film screenings, and a café with some excellent food options.
Workplace One – Canada
Workplace One is a more straightforward, even traditional working space – there’s no beach view or “vibrant floor” here – but all four locations are beautifully designed and have great facilities. Workplace One has three locations in Toronto and one in Kitchener, and all of them offer excellent, affordable packages, including a great virtual office option that gives you not only a place to work, but a permanent business address, mail/package notification services, optional telephone services, and special rates on meeting rooms and day offices.
There are of course also the more typical options, such as flexible co-working spaces for the day or week, dedicated desks, and private offices. All four co-working spaces are in great locations with easy access, and have several other great features including a lobby to greet guests, building security and parking space, kitchenettes and coffee bars, and even craft beer on tap!
Hubud – Indonesia
Ubud in Bali might not seem like a place where you’d get much work done, in the middle of rainforest and rice fields, but there’s a sizeable expat community here, and they do need to work. Hubud (Hub-In-Ubud) offers a great co-working space to these expats, and to many locals too, with excellent facilities (including, reportedly, the best Wi-Fi around) and a fantastic, thriving community. Some of the community events include an orientation for new members; in addition, members frequently have skill-sharing workshops on topics ranging from Bitcoin to speaking Spanish.
What’s particularly lovely about Hubud is the fact that they’ve managed to provide a vibrant, professional co-working space, with a conference room, a meeting room, and a Skype booth, all while retaining the serene atmosphere and beauty of Ubud, with sustainable constructional materials (bamboo and recycled wood), an organic garden café, and a spectacular view of rice fields and the volcano. What’s more, Hubud will even help you relocate to Bali – they have a ‘Hubud Soft Landing Package’ in which they make all the necessary arrangements, from picking you up from the airport to finding you a place to stay.
The Garages – Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria
Nairobi Garage, Cape Town Garage, and Lagos Garage are co-working spaces run by 88mph, a company that has invested in many of the most successful startups in Africa in the last few years. More recently, they turned their attention to what they describe as a “fully serviced co-working office space for startups, techies and entrepreneurs”. The Garage spaces have often been described as the best in their region, with excellent infrastructure at affordable rates, and of course a strong community as well, with regular conferences, workshops, and training programs.
Access options include a daily pass, a monthly flexible pass, and a monthly fixed pass. In addition to these, they also offer a meeting room pass. Nairobi Garage will soon be opening a new branch in Westlands, a 25,000 square foot space with an additional 400 desks, which it says will make it the largest co-working space in Africa.
Urban Station – Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile
Urban Station describes itself as an office space network for mobile workers, with the motto “Enjoy working differently!” One of the most striking things about Urban Station is their décor: professional, yet casual and quirky. The workspaces include individual tables, community tables, meeting rooms and auditoriums, and the services include high-speed internet, scanners and copiers, lockers, stationery, international courier/delivery services, a reception service, and food and beverages. The services vary slightly from one location to the next – Urban Station has around 10 locations across the four countries, and some may have sofas, others terrace spaces, and some even have bicycles that you can take for a spin – but the general ethos remains the same. There are various membership options to choose from, ranging from flexible and hourly to more long-term, fixed options.
The Hive – Hong Kong
The Hive is one of the best co-working spaces in Hong Kong, and now has three locations: Wan Chai, Kennedy Town, and Saikung. There is a studio space for fashion, product, and portrait shoots; a storage space for both Hive members and outsiders; and most recently, a maker space, with all the facilities and equipment that designers could need.
All four co-working spaces are large and well designed, with a variety of options including open plan workspaces, closed offices, meeting rooms, a decked courtyard, armchairs, dedicated desks, and what they call “hotdesks”. Every member gets a storage locker and a post box so that they can use the Hive as their business address. Other facilities for members include the standard Wi-Fi and printer access, as well as special rates for the studio and additional storage space. Membership packages are varied, and they even offer special, discounted rates for startups and entrepreneurs that are less than a year old, and for social enterprises.
Do you use a coworking space in your city? Tell us about it in the comments.