Although the opposite of white sand and warm weather, skiing Is my passion and having been inspired by reading articles from DigiNo I knew there was one country in which I could achieve my dream – Bulgaria.
The ski resort Bansko is the largest resort of the country!
Amongst other things, Bansko boasts excellent snow cover, 75km of piste, cheap cost of living, buzzing après, and most importantly for digital nomads, high speed internet!
Having been dubbed the “Chiang Mai of Europe” what makes Bansko such a special destination? Read below to find out.
1. Bansko Winter sports
What drew me to Bansko in the first place was the winter sports. Boasting a modern lift infrastructure, a ski season stretching from Dec-April and 75km of piste, Bansko is an excellent ski resort.
Overlooking the lower slopes with Bansko covered in cloud.
Although this is smaller than a lot of large alpine resorts, the major bonus is the price tag, with the Post Office (link) consistently finding Bansko the cheapest and best value ski resort in Europe, with a weekly trip costing less than half of the nearest alpine competition!
Bansko Piste map:
Away from the pistes, the Pirin national park offers almost endless routes for back country skiing and snowboarding, as well as snow shoeing for those wishing to explore the beautiful mountains. Mountain huts known as Heijas are available to stay in for the more adventurous wishing to do multi day trips.
Climbing Todorka Ridge with the Bansko located on the valley floor in the distance.
2. Cost of Living in Bansko
Aside from the savings on skiing compared to the alps etc. the general cost of living is also far lower:
Apartment rental prices (one bedroom) run around €100/150 a month+ bills, or single room in local guest houses from €10 per night.
Eat out for €5 a head (including wine!)
€1 a pint of beer!
High speed internet + 4G
An obvious necessity to work online is the use of high speed internet and 4G, which is no problem in Bansko! The town experiences full 4G coverage, with speeds up to 50mbit, and can be bought for as little as €10 for 10GB. Wifi is abundant also, easily accessible across town and in cafes and bars, with spaces such as “Coworking Bansko” offering fiber optic broad with speeds up to 150Mbit.
3. Co working Community in Bansko
Bansko has steadily seen its expat and digital nomad population rise, with the increasingly popular Coworking Bansko space not only offering high speed internet, but also organising a large range of social and networking events.
Click the image below to discover the 5 best digital nomad jobs:
There is also a solid community of expats in and out of the ski season; the Bansko notice board is a great introduction to check out what’s going on! The winter season is Bansko’s busiest time with a huge range of bars and restaurants to explore, along with a vibrant Apres ski scene rivalling that of the alpine super resorts!
4. Bansko Town and Culture
Although I was initially drawn in by the skiing, it’s my love for the town of Bansko and the surrounding region which has made me return time and time again!
Looking up at the ski area from the Main Square of Bansko old town.
Here are just some of the highlights the town offers:
- Historic old town, with cobbled streets, old churches and museums, there is a plethora of culture and history to explore away from the buzz of the new ski town.
- Local markets offer a range of wares with homemade wines, cheese and other locally produced food
- Laid back Bulgarian attitude to life, culturally it’s far more relaxed, and a great place to escape the rat race!
Check out more great locations for nomads and teachers below:
5. Bansko Tourist attractions
In the wider region, there are fascinating places and landmarks to explore as well:
- Approximately 2 hours driving to the cities of Sofia and Plovdiv, both charming cities with digital nomad communities
- Approximately 2 hours driving to the Greek coastline, offering stunning scenery and warmer temperatures!
- A host of attractions such as a Bear park, narrow gauge railway, white water rafting and abandoned communist structures.
A major bonus if you plan on working as an online ESL teacher is the timezone. Eastern European time (GMT +2) is perfect for the peak hours required for online ESL teaching, 12pm-3pm weekdays and from 5am-3pm at weekends, allowing plenty of time for skiing!
6. Working as an Online ESL Teacher for a Ski Season
Traditional season work includes jobs such as chalet staff, barman or a chef. These however come with long hours, limited ski time and often low hourly wages, especially when paid in the local Bulgarian currency (Lev). I currently work for both Dada and PalFish and each company has their pros:
With my 6 hour contract this will guarantee me 50% standby pay 2 days a week. Working 12-3 (local Bulgarian time) I will be able to ski in the morning and enjoy après late into the evening!
The flexibility PalFish provides is great, although there is no standby pay, I have found myself consistently filling 80% of my open slots since I started, and being able to schedule my own hours allows me earn extra income whilst planning and shredding big powder days! Another advantage is I can teach on my mobile/tablet and 4G, perfect for exploring other parts of Bulgaria and the nearby Greek coastline if I fancy a change of scenery.
Between the two I have tried to maintain a balance between guaranteed pay and flexibity, with PalFish as my main earner.
All in all, the combination of living in Bansko and online ESL teaching provide a winning formula, offering a great alternative to the ‘traditional ski season’. Not only do you not have to bankrupt yourself for rent, ski pass and food, you get more time to ski and explore, win win! Any questions please drop a comment below, and I hope to see you on the slopes soon!
Check out more travelling tips with the article below: