With the rising trend of co-working, remote work, and “workation” retreats, entrepreneurial Millennials from around the world are quickly adopting the location-independent entrepreneurship lifestyle because of the prospect of reduced living costs, exciting new environments, and access to a network of other motivated and interesting creatives and entrepreneurs.
For example, Workaway, the travel agency for entrepreneurs, offers trips for 7-14 days around the world, including retreats in Italy, Spain, Morocco, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Kenya, and Russia; we hear they will be launching to Asia soon. First-time entrepreneurs intent on launching an online business see Southeast Asia as an ideal place because of the warm climates and extensive network of expatriates already living the region.
Fast growing technology startups are starting to see the benefit of remote work arrangements, too. For example, the entire team at Buffer, the social media application, works remotely, and the team goes on annual trips to interesting locations for team building activities. For Team Treehouse, founded by entrepreneur Ryan Carson to teach people to code software and learn modern technology skills, working remotely is just one of the techniques they use to be more productive.
Alternatively, startups conducting overseas go-to-market research in Southeast Asia may need to find ways to support their employees as they work outside of the office, and require a “soft landing” base while they are expanding operations. Co-working spaces may be the best place to get things done, and saves time on signing a lease for a new office, and saves money for when the company hasn’t yet dedicated budget to leasing an individual office. Co-working spaces are ideal also because they often provide a community network of local service providers.
Whether the reason to visit Southeast Asia is to build a startup and become location independent, expand an existing startup overseas, or take time off while not forsaking productive work altogether, joining a co-working space while you’re around seems to be a good idea.
In the following modified book excerpts from Digital Nomad Guide to Asia – researched and published by GoToLaunch – we explore the best places to work in four locales in Southeast Asia: Bangkok and Chiang Mai of Thailand, Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam, and the beautiful island of Bali, Indonesia. Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City are hubs for the urban explorer who thrives in chaos and variety, while Chiang Mai and Bali are serene retreats for the mind and spirit.
Bali is a world-famous resort and vacation destination, drawing large amounts of travelers from Europe (especially Eastern) and Australia, followed by Asia and North America. New startups, nomads, and co-working spaces are joining the island on almost a monthly basis.
While it’s also true of Bangkok, it’s a safe bet that most of the Asia-based nomad community will end up in Bali for at least a week in the course of a year. Bali also hosts some world-class surfing and diving adventures, drawing experts from around the world.
Given the offerings, the islands draw everyone from the 20-something backpacker to the Russian oil tycoon. Expect the unexpected, like the hidden art zoo as you moped around Northeast Bali.
Landscapes in Bali are as stunning as they are varied. The small island varies from one acre to the next, with pristine beaches next to built-out resorts, and craggy coastlines not far from towering mountains into which Bali’s famed rice paddies are carved.
Bali’s towns vary between heavy concentrations of prestigious resorts and nightclubs in the South, to low-key and even mundane local residences in the North, to inspiring mixes of foreign and local small business and art in Central Bali.The island’s strikingly blue water, lush greenery, colorfully dressed locals, and intricate temples make it a feast for the eyes. It’s seriously gorgeous, and generally 20-32*C (68-90*F) year-round.
Last, Bali is deeply spiritual. Every feature of the island is regarded as holy in a unique way, especially the peak of the tallest volcano, regarded as the holiest point in Bali and home to the islands most holy deity, Siwa.
Conversely, the ground is unholy and dirty, serving as the playground for evil spirits. Knowing that evil spirits can only move in straight lines, the Balinese architecture and rituals do a lot to crush, block, or confuse these demons – though it’s believed, in the spirit of celestial balance, that good and evil will always be part of life for the Balinese. A sample of the protections used against evil spirits is the canang sari, a bundle of snacks, flowers, and incense placed on bamboo leaves on the ground multiple times per day.
The co-working environment is still young in Bali, but heating up quickly! Before the start of 2015, there were 3-5 coworking spaces open in Bali, though more are sure to come.
Hubud – Nomad favourite
￼￼What: Bali’s first and still best co-working space, Hubud is the go-to place for most nomads who aren’t here on their first visit – it’s just dependable, convenient, and the location is 5 minutes away from Ubud’s Monkey Forest.
The space can fit hundreds and currently serves 200 foreign and local creatives, entrepreneurs, and technologists with a 4,000 square foot custom space overlooking a rice paddy. A 20-person conference room, meeting rooms, and private call booths are available. The staff can also help you find accommodations.
Hubud throws regular events and even annual conferences in the space, and even offer an on-site raw food bar (which we’ve tested to be delicious). Hubud is actually partnered with Hubba, our favorite co-working space in Bangkok, which may let your membership carry over for a trial week. Paid perks include mailing address, storage locker, and 24/7 access.
• 25 hrs/mo – IDR 685,000
• 50 hrs/mo – IDR 1.25M
• Unlimited with perks – IDR 3.1M
Where: Monkey Forest Road 88x, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali 80571
Lineup Hub – Best value
￼￼￼What: A popular co-working space close to the waves, bars, and clubs of Seminyak and Kuta, Lineup has a lot of space and modern international facilities good for teams of individuals. It’s close to the beach, but not the tourists, so it’s not uncommon to take surf breaks during lunch.
It’s less heavy on events large scale events, but they are solid on what they offer and do it at a very competitive price, counted by days of access during the month. You’ll have access to large LEDs, meeting areas, free coffee, and private lockers. A membership comes with ability to use their address and free event admission.
• 5 days/mo – IDR 700,000
• 10 days – IDR 1.2M
• Unlimited – IDR 1.8M
Where: Sunset Permai 3, Jalan Sunset Road, Kuta, Bali
Livit Spaces- Full-serviced work-lifestyle
What: If you have a whole team ready to bootstrap or just want to do a “work vacation”, Livit Spaces is a unique solution – they take care of everything. You rent a villa for 1-6 months with all laundry, food, and cleaning done for you, and your home is set up to function as an effective office with up to 4 friends.
They have 6 “power” houses available in Ubud and Denpasar with their own regular staff, with each location coming fully furnished and connected to fast Internet. The locations are listed on AirBnB and available through their main site.
• Single room – Daily IDR 560,000, or Monthly IDR 15M
• Six-person serviced villa – Daily IDR 1.24M, or Monthly IDR 32M
Where: Perumahan Bumi Santi no. 14, Jalan Pratu Made Rambug, Batubulan, Gianyar, Bali
The author Janet Chang is VP of Marketing at GoToLaunch. She is currently taking a three-month work vacation retreat in Bali to focus on passion projects and business ideas related to health, fitness, and biohacking, while learning to surf. Chang can be found on the web at JanetChang.com and on Twitter @JanetLChang.
Image Credit: The Independants