Archive | September, 2013

Expat Life: Not Always A Smooth Ride!

Posted on 19 September 2013 by American expat!

There is an interesting and clever infographic going around looking at the major challenges with expat life around the world.

I particularly identify with the final point, Sense of Humor – I know my personality does not come across here (a good thing?) because so much of American humor is based on cultural references: Movie lines, ridiculous celebrities, news stories, subcultural references, TV and commercial references, product references…the list goes on. Image if ALL of that was gone from your repertoire of funny. Superimpose that on a top of a totally different culture of humor, one in which you are usually lost, a different language (point 9) and what you get is loneliness (point 7) and occasional homesickness (point 5)!

Expat Life: Not Always A Smooth Ride!
Expat Life: Not Always A Smooth Ride! – An infographic by the team at Overs

 

Which points do YOu most related to?

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Coworking in Spain

Posted on 08 September 2013 by American expat!

If you find yourself in Europe, working independently in whatever profession and thus working from a “home office”, you might find yourself in the same position as me: Easily distracted in your “home office” constantly taking a quick break to do laundry, play with the cat, clean the windows, take out the recycling, run to the store, take a quick bike ride…anything and everything that your brain can throw at you to keep you from the task at hand, that of making money.

Or, you just might find yourself working and awful lot, leaving the house only when your refrigerator has nothing but some old garlic cloves and condiments in it, which makes for a lonely existence after a few months.

There is a fabulous solution to the above problems, one that has a benefit that far outweighs its cost. I am talking about cowork spaces: those desks or shared offices you rent on a weekly, monthly, sometimes even daily basis. They’ve been a big hit in the US for a while, especially for tech workers, and are gaining momentum quickly all over Europe.  I should say more momentum, as there are over 100 in Barcelona alone – and this is not a big city geographically by any stretch. And coworking spaces here tend to have a theme: web workers, designers, digital nomads, creative arts, writers, and even what you might call crafters – jewelry and clothing makers and those who create real things that not viewed on a screen and are not printed out.

I rent a permanent desk for 150 Euros a month. And while working from home would save me the equivalent of 200 dollars a month, my productivity levels cover that cost in less than a week. So if you ask me if it is worth it, I will fall over myself telling you just how worth it it is.  And not only for the productivity, but for the interaction with others that it gives you. My cowork space has a WhatsApp group that chats and send photos to everyone. And we have a monthly dinner together. We also have plans to have each coworker that wants to participate give a presentation about what it is they do. These will be scheduled the first Thursday of the month, and each person gets 15 mins. It’s like free business advertising and networking.

Other cowork spaces around town range from right around what I pay–though there are places for less–up to 400 euros a month for amazing shared spaces with terraces in the posh part of town (I am in an industrial area – in fact my office is the six floor of a converted warehouse). Nearly all the cowork spaces have meeting rooms, some type of kitchen, and lounge area. Many of them have monthly or even weekly events. Some, like mine, allow 24/7 access by means of keys and alarm codes, while others have specific hours. (I happen to be typing this in my cowork space at 7:45 on a Sunday evening-or afternoon, as it would be considered here in Spain).

Because the ROI for me is so high – that is, that the space pays for itself in just a week because I am more focused, complete projects sooner, and thus bill for them, sooner–an indulgence presents itself on those days when I don’t want to make the effort to go to the office. Instead, I stay home and work. If you have ever worked in a corporate office, you will recall those days when you would give anything to just not have to go into the office. When I am too lazy to take the 15 minute bike ride, I live out the fantasy that I am just saying screw you to “the man” and refusing to go to the office. Such a treat.

The options are endless here-basically anything you can think up. ie. 2 days a week, 8 days a month, sharing with a friend, reduced rates for an entire small company, you can arrange as most owners are very willing to accomodate you to bring you in. To get an idea of what is out there, if you are in Spain a great site to check is: Comunidad Coworking. For the rest of Europe and the World (Spain included), check out ShareDesk.net and DeskMag.com 

It’s a concept that works for travel too. If you can work anywhere, why not take advantage of it? I am planning on taking an extended to the Canary Islands soon and staying/working at The Surf Office. (Just click the link, trust me.) And I will write about it when I do.

PS: Just read an article about coworking and its reported that Barcelona is on the verge of becoming the city with the highest Coworking space density in the world!

fabrica22

My coworking space during a bank holiday.

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