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Coworking Spaces – My First Impressions (Impact Hub Athens, Bucharest)

Before I left on my digital nomad journey, I was banking on coworking spaces to make new friends and push myself into hustle mode. Now that I’ve experienced two of these spaces, I wanted to share my thoughts below.

What are Coworking Spaces?

Coworking spaces are shared working environments, normally for freelancers, creatives, and entrepreneurs hustling away at their own businesses. Rather than working with a bunch of coworkers on the same team, everyone in the office space is accomplishing something different, pursuing their own passion projects.

Price

From what I’ve seen, the average costs of coworking spaces start at around $10/day or $100/month, and there are usually discounted packages when booking longer term. These prices seem to hold true in lower-cost areas like Athens, Bucharest, and Chiang Mai.

Now that I’m abroad, I’ve been going back and forth about coworking spaces. Since I’m currently trying to reduce expenses, especially to achieve my financial independence goal, I’ve been debating whether or not coworking spaces are worth it.

Pros and Cons

The Advantages:

  • Productivity – Being around other go-getters in a quiet work environment will motivate me.
  • Networking opportunities – I’ll be able to meet new creatives of all kinds for inspiration.

My Worries:

  • If I book a monthly membership I’d feel pressure to show up as much as I can. This worried me because:
    • On average, I wake up super late. It’s getting to the 1 PM point now.
    • As you already know, I don’t like having a set schedule. I didn’t want my life to start feeling like a 9-5.
    • If I skipped days, I’d feel guilty about wasting money.
  • Distance from my apartment – Knowing myself, I wouldn’t make the trip if the space were too far away from my flat.
  • Cost – since I’m living in lower cost areas, I was debating whether or not it’s worth it to pay for a coworking space over working at home or at cafes and restaurants.

I’ve now been to two coworking spaces – one in Athens and one in Bucharest. Both were Impact Hubs (they have over 80 branches around the world). Here were my thoughts:

Impact Hub Athens Review

The Impact Hub Athens was my first coworking space experience. It is quite nice! Considering the square footage of most Athens restaurants and cafes that I’ve been to, the Impact Hub was considerably spacious in comparison. It has about three floors (there are many more rooms not featured in the pictures below).

When you head over you might get a bit lost. At least I did. You have to find the white gate on the right and ring the doorbell for someone to grab you.

Once you enter, you will see this hallway:

Athens Impact Hub

Athens Impact Hub

Very hipster and San Francisco-like.

Athens Impact Hub

To your right, you’ll see a board of photos and descriptions of Impact Hub members, normally found at each branch.

Athens Impact Hub

And on both sides there will be meeting rooms on meeting rooms.

To get to the actual coworking space you’ll need to go upstairs:

Athens Impact Hub Athens Impact Hub

On the same floor, there will be a presentation room:

Athens Impact Hub

Athens Impact Hub

But the digs, in my opinion, weren’t as cool as the ones I saw in Bucharest. There were a few more rooms not pictured above, but hopefully these photos give you a sense of what Impact Hub Athens is like.

Networking/Atmosphere

I was hoping to network at Impact Hub Athens, but everyone was too focused on their work to look up. There was 1 host that spoke with me about the space, but didn’t give me a tour or introduce me to anyone else. I found it a bit intimidating to approach people, especially because most everyone at Impact Hub Athens were Greek native speakers. And for some reason I felt a bit unwelcomed – there was this inexplicable air of superiority, like “I’m in tech and I’m too cool for you”. Of course these were my first impressions, and I could be totally wrong. With coworking spaces, I think you’ll meet people and join the community eventually if you attend regularly. It wasn’t an unpleasant experience but I decided not to continue working there.

Impact Hub Bucharest Review

Funny story about how I ended up at Impact Hub Bucharest. I moved to Bucharest because of this article, and I ended up reaching out to the author, Jeremy de France. After some conversation, he asked if I wanted to join Impact Hub as a guest for a day so I could decide if the coworking space were right for me.

The Space

Impact Hub Bucharest consisted of two floors, but I only checked out 1 of them.
Though this branch may have been smaller than that of Athens, I liked the design and atmosphere more. It felt brighter and happier:

Bucharest Impact Hub

Bucharest Impact Hub

Bucharest Impact Hub

Bucharest Impact Hub

I loved how colorful it was!

Networking/Atmosphere

On Tuesdays they have “Sexy Salad” at around 2 PM, in which everyone eats lunch together for some good salad and conversation. Initially I felt awkward, especially since everyone seemed to speak Romanian. I was thinking maybe I’d feel unwelcome again like in Athens. But Jeremy and two of the hosts came to my rescue and introduced me to some cool folks.




Afterwards Jeremy, his friend Gabriel, and I had a nice chat. Madalina gave me a little tour as well. I was thankful that they took the time to learn about me as well as talk to me about what they do. They guaranteed a positive, inclusive community at Impact Hub Bucharest.

Conclusion

Coworking spaces are great for getting work done. When you have good wifi and hustlers around you, you’re motivated to perform.

But community and inclusivity are the factors that make certain spaces stand out from others. And I think the community is really what attracts members to join as the opportunity to network is extremely crucial. I feel like Impact Hub Bucharest will give me a chance to meet some awesome new people.

I ended up joining their evening hours for 1 month, which will appease my worries about waking up early and following a 9-5 schedule. It was also more affordable than their unlimited hours package! I’m excited to start attending the coworking space and feel it’ll be a positive experience.

Update: Wow thanks, Impact Hub Bucharest, for checking out my article! I just saw they posted this in their e-mail newsletter. I’m quite surprised – it really shows they care about the happenings of their members:

Impact Hub Bucharest

 

10 Comments

  1. Great overview and nice pretty pics. Glad things are working out well for you in Bucharest!

    Do you know if there are any coworking spaces in HK? Maybe it’s about time I started looking into it while I’m out here…

    Keep up the hustle!

  2. Super cool Sharon, good comparisons – glad to see you’re enjoying Bucharest. Goes to show there’s more to a co-working space than it’s name/brand. It definitely takes the people to make it what it is. Most co-working spaces I’ve been to as well have been very “cold”, haven’t done a lot to build community either – but I think the best ones are the one’s that actually help you get plugged in (if you want). It’d be cool if you kept a list of all the one’s you visit as you travel. 🙂

    • digitalnomadquest digitalnomadquest

      Thanks for the comment, Paul! I totally agree. And I am thinking about doing that. 🙂 I don’t know if I’ll be visiting that many coworking spaces but I’ll keep a running list!

  3. Hei, Sharon!
    This is Monica from Impact Hub Cluj-Napoca team. If you ever visit our town, don’t hesitate to visit our coworking space and meet the community. Members from Impact Hub Bucharest are our friends also. 🙂

    • digitalnomadquest digitalnomadquest

      Thank you! It looks very nice 🙂

  4. Nicu Nicu

    Hi Sharon,

    I hope you enjoy your stay in Romania! I read your blog for a few months (found out about it via FI Fighter blog:)) – if you travel to Suceava region, drinks are on me :)). Keep up the good work!

    • digitalnomadquest digitalnomadquest

      Hi Nicu! Wow thanks for reading and I’m glad you’re liking the content 🙂 I’ll let you know if I go that could be fun!

  5. Cool! I was thinking of renting a WeWork space here in SF to have more camaraderie and fun. But man, I hate commuting!

    Never been to Bucharest. Cheap and fun?

    I can’t take Europe in the summer. I tend to go in May or in October.

    • digitalnomadquest digitalnomadquest

      Yes! Food is around $6 and rent is around $100-400/month depending on the area you live. Except since I did an AirBnB I am paying around $550/month or so. It is quite hot though like you mentioned!

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