Coworking in Canggu: total paradise or totally packed?

Being a digital nomad is never just about the work. The whole point is that when you can choose where to work, you may as well find somewhere that fits your dream lifestyle. For many people, that place is Canggu on the beautiful island of Bali. But its well-earned reputation for being a paradise (even by Bali’s high standards) comes with a downside: it’s getting too busy for some. Before you start waxing down your surfboard, let’s look at the ins and outs of coworking in Canggu.

Canggu: an unforgettable location for coworking

Located on the long south-western coastline of Bali, Canggu has long been a surfers’ paradise. That made it into a perfect laid-back resort with cool bars and locals who were famously accommodating. The hubbub of Denpasar, the capital of Bali, is just 7 km to the east, and the village lies adjacent to North Kuta, another tourist district.

But more recently, Canggu has attracted surfers of a different kind, as digital nomads realised their stays here didn’t have to be for a week or two – they could live and work here for the long term. Up popped internet cafes and coworking spaces, and the region responded by providing some of the best internet speeds on the island. A new sector was born.

Inevitably, word spread of this haven of laid-back working, and the place became a magnet for remote workers from all around the world. Who wouldn’t want to wake up, go for a surf off the world-renowned Echo Beach, Berawa Beach or Batu Bolong Beach, before switching your mind to making some money in your online business? 

The Canggu coworking compromise

It’s the popularity of Canggu, however, that has led some nomads to pack their bags and seek new pastures. Many will simply travel inland for 20 km to Ubud, a more spiritual retreat where they can get their heads down relatively undistracted. Others will leave the island altogether and head off to up-and-coming remote worker hotspots in foreign countries like Panama or Berlin.

This is always the tightrope walk you have to brave when you’re living the Bali digital nomad dream. Let’s face it, Bali is one of the most desirable places in the world when it comes to climate, landscape, ocean, cuisine and people. And if you can manage the balance, you can enjoy both a vibrant social scene and a choice of places to work in your chosen location. 

But once a place becomes too popular, it can become difficult to find a Wi-Fi connected table, let alone to get from one side of a town to the other without sitting in traffic for half an hour. That’s why Canggu’s attraction is also its main drawback. Such a beautiful, lively place, with miles of phenomenal coastline will always attract tourists as well as digital nomads. It can make the place somewhat busy at certain times of the year, and that’s a huge turn-off for start-ups trying to find a good work-life balance.

However, it’s worth considering that while tourists might add to congestion and make it harder to get a place in a restaurant, they don’t cause much of a strain on the coworking community. They are two separate groups of people, who don’t encroach on each other’s space in day-to-day life.

Also remember that if it wasn’t for the tourists, there wouldn’t be half as many bars and eateries that give you endless choices of things to eat. It’s not unusual in this part of the world to live in an apartment with little or no cooking appliances, as eating out is simply what people do (in fact, it usually works out cheaper than home cooking). The buzz of the eat-out lifestyle, as well as the tastes and aromas of the foodie delights on offer, is what makes it all worthwhile.

Whether you like it or not, Canggu doesn’t exist purely for remote workers – and it wouldn’t be anywhere near as much fun if it did.

The reputation Canggu has earned for being overly busy is partially justified, but it’s the frenetic lifestyle and incredibly low cost of living that keeps the village fresh and ever-changing. Digital nomads are, by their nature, flexible people, and always find a way to make a place work for them.

Should you adopt a Canggu attitude?

Right now, Canggu might be nearing the tipping point of being just too rushed to work in, but it’s not there yet, and might never reach it. Those who find the bustle enlivening will stay; those who need more space will go, and it’s very likely that if pressure on Bali for more coworking space increases, places will open quickly to meet demand.

What’s particularly nice about Canggu is its location. Yes, there are beaches, bars, cafes and well-connected workspaces on your doorstep. But within half an hour in any direction, you can have the full-on urban thrill of Denpasar or the tranquility of Ubud, plus the many villages in the area.

So if you like to switch up your surroundings from day to day, this could be your ideal base camp – especially if you like to surf while the sun rises over the town. And of course, if your nomadic tendencies entice you further afield, the international airport is just half an hour away.

When you’re looking for somewhere to get serious and do some work, there’s a great selection of air-conditioned coworking spaces in the town. They’re truly calm and productive places to work, where you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people. You might make some lucrative business contacts in one of the coworking spaces, but it’s a certainty that you’ll find a lunch buddy – and perhaps even a friend for life.

Coworking locations don’t get their reputations by accident – Canggu is popular because it has a lot going for it. Whether it’s all too much for you will be down to personal taste. If you’re choosing the Bali digital nomad lifestyle to network and socialise alongside your labours, don’t move an inch – you’ve found your spot. 

If you’re on the fence about Bali, you can always give Canggu a try for a few weeks, and then decide whether it’s the paradise you’ve heard about … or just too much fun to be focused.

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Rovva puts everything you need for your business in one place. From an accountancy helpline to a drop-in business lounge - we've got everything covered.