I’ve been a blogger since late 2008. But only now, almost 9 years after going the location independent route, I finally went to a coworking space. And I did it for five days in a row, to make sure that I get more time for testing this still new way of getting work done.
Since I was in Budapest, with my AirBnb rental close to it, I chose Kaptar. I found it with a quick Google search and just went there one day.
Boy, I was nervous!
Since 2008, I have never been into a place that even somewhat resembles a traditional working space. A place with more people working, with offices and chairs and coffee machines. I was never a big fan of those, but thought that in a coworking space things might be different.
I am a very odd person. Working alone, on your own, for so long, turns you into an odd person. I need silence – and a lot of it – in order to be able to concentrate when I do my writing. Some people thrive in noisy environments, but I am unable to concentrate and get anything done.
That’s why, until my first coworking experience with Kaptar in Budapest, I mainly worked from bedrooms and living rooms. Maybe a terrace, an open air space – but usually alone.
But you know what? Being lonely is not nice. Even though I am lucky enough to travel and have my family close by at all times, my wife and son don’t know much about blogging, SEO, link building and other stuff I’d like to talk about.
Plus, there’s the added benefit of being close to likeminded people, living a similar type of life to yours. I mean, I’ve seen the Youtube videos: you go to a coworking space, meet a ton of awesome people and, at the end of the day, you have 12 new connections.
I found out – and it was to my disappointment – that it’s not really like that. But it’s not too bad either!
Situated right in the heart of Budapest, across the street from St. Istvan’s Basilica, Kaptar looks nice and comfy and homey, while somehow managing to keep a professional look as well.
One day, I was the first to get there, as soon as they opened, and took the photos below. My plan was to take more some other day when people were there – and also to the upper level area about which we’ll talk about below – but I totally forgot.
Although it feels a bit office-y, Kaptar is clearly different than a traditional, cubicle-filled office. A huge, open space invites you to work, with various choices for sitting, including extremely comfy sofas.
I always chose chairs in front of the window because the streets out front are pretty crowded at times and people watching calmed me down and kept my spirits high. It was beautiful!
Tip: If you’re going to Kaptar for the first time, they have a newcomer’s special offer of sorts: you can pay a promotional price of 10,000 HUF (about 33 Euros) for 5 full working days. Otherwise, the price is 4,500 HUF per day, but there are other options available – you can find all about them on Kaptar’s official website if interested.
There are two levels in Kaptar: the ground floor is what you see in the photos and where the kitchen is located as well. It’s noisier, you have many people coming and leaving, it’s really intense at times.
The second floor is for the workaholics. You are asked to stay quiet and it feels a bit gloomy. Even for me – a person that’s used to working in complete silence.
So I only worked downstairs. The atmosphere was pleasant and I was hoping it will make it easier to meet new people. This didn’t happen though.
Most of the people coming at Kaptar are there to get some things done. Myself included. There are no fusball tables, no distracting arcades or stuff like that, so opportunities to break away from work and just chit chat with other members there are limited.
I wouldn’t have met a single new person there if it weren’t for the Kaptar events. One of them – which happens every Wednesday for what I understood – is a common lunch. You can opt out if you want to, but I was there to meet new likeminded people, so I went for it.
It was a really interesting experience, we got to learn some things about the people there and it was the perfect chance to make connections. I was happy to hear the presentations of the other location independent colleagues and bits about their lives and travels. That was something I really enjoyed and I would’ve missed so much if I hadn’t been part of it!
But, apart from that, people were there to get work done. Several seemed to be constantly there and small groups existed – while those not in groups were 100% focused on working. Which is not a bad thing, in the end…
For groups, there is also another Kaptar office right across the street. It might be good for workshops as well – but I didn’t really ask or look closer. But there are options – a lot of options.
My opinion about coworking spaces
Spending five days in a single place is definitely not enough to get a fully educated opinion on something, but that’s all that I have right now.
And what I have is mixed feelings. I enjoyed working at Kaptar and I think that I would enjoy working from other coworking spaces as well. Hopefully some are better in terms of meeting new people, but I really don’t know at this point.
What I know is that most people working there were locals. Or at least Hungarians, which made it a lot easier for them to communicate. Foreigners were fewer and since probably they were all nomads, they came and went and didn’t really have time to actually leave their mark there. Just like me.
I didn’t like the fact that it could get indeed loud at some points and really distracting. Of course, there was the option of the silent level above, so it’s not their fault here.
But the thing that really made me dislike the coworking space is that it still seemed like an office. You had many people working, focused on doing their jobs as good as they could and I felt, for the first time in many years, like I did back when I had a traditional job.
Waking up, taking a shower, dressing up for my day at the coworking space, the trip to Kaptar, the lunch break, everything was a bit too much for me and I didn’t like that… it reminded me of the office time and I didn’t like that either!
Sure, you can choose your own hours and it’s basically exactly what I do when I am back home… but still somehow completely different.
When I work at home, I usually wear some old t-shirt and shorts. Sometimes all I wear is my boxers. I move around, I grab a snack, I do some minor things in the room, I take breaks to do some exercise and stretch my back, I get a coffee, I go to the bathroom, I do whatever I want without having to worry that somebody else might consider it inappropriate. It’s real freedom and that’s what I enjoy the most about it!
Sure, you get lonely. This is the main reason why I went to a coworking space in the first place – to meet people. But after 9 years working alone from my room, I apparently got very rusty and I didn’t really meet new people. I would’ve left in a couple of weeks anyway, so not really enough time to make new friends…
Yes, it did feel nice for most of the time. I was part of something, I was together with people living the DN or location independent dream, but I wasn’t really blown away by this. Plus, I was really surprised to see that I was the only blogger out there. Hey, where my bloggers at? Working from home, like me, right, aye?
Some people might find it easier or better to work from a coworking space because it helps them stay focused and get the job done. It probably puts them in the correct mindset, just like a traditional job does. It works for them and that is great.
But for me, it’s not really working. Sure, despite the noise that was distracting sometimes, I got a lot of work done as well. But not more than I do back at home. Not more than usual. Because I’ve learned to stay motivated and focused when working in my bed as well, on the terrace in a nice AirBnb or a traditional office.
So no, coworking spaces are not really my thing. Which is a good thing, in the end, because this offers me more freedom.
Still, I plan to visit more coworking spaces in the future and decide after spending a few months of combined time there. Hopefully they will start working for me just as good as they work for those who consider them indispensable.
What about you? Are you normally working from coworking spaces? What are your opinions on them?