5 more places to work

People working at tables in historical library.

Public libraries are a great place to work—they are quiet and free!

We’ve already told you about five places digital nomads can work. Cafes and coworking spaces are pretty well-known options, but we’ve got five more places to work that even experienced remoters may not have thought of!

1. Public Libraries

The EU has 65,000 public libraries. There are over 100,000 public libraries in the United Sates. And Hong Kong has one of the largest library systems in the world. You generally need a library card to borrow materials and make use of other services in public libraries, but work spaces are usually open to everyone. Some libraries even have quite study rooms.

Libraries often restrict Wi-Fi access to holders of library cards, but some libraries have open access Wi-Fi—you just need to ask for the password. Even if you can’t access the internet on your computer, you can still work off line in a quite space and use the library’s computer stations to check your email and social media. You can also use the opportunity to access databases and subscription-only publications—maybe do some research beyond a Google search now and then!

If you’re going to be staying in a town or city for a few weeks or months, you may be able to get a library card. Every jurisdiction is different, so do a little research—you may find a sweet sweet spot to get some serious work done—for free. But remember to use your indoor voice, switch your phone to vibrate, and check the library’s policy on food and drink.

2. University Libraries and Common Spaces

Universities all over the world are places for young people to gather, think, study, and work. Some universities have tight security and limit access to students and staff with IDs. However, this level of security this is more common in student residences and outside regular business hours. But public universities are generally considered a public asset and open to the community.

University libraries are great places to get some work done—they may or may not offer public access Wi-Fi, it really depends on their role in the community. Universities also have common areas where students study, like coffee shops, food courts, study halls, and dinning rooms. As in the library, Wi-Fi may be open or may require a student number to access, but you won’t know until you’ve checked out the university in your next destination.

3. Design Centers, Private Libraries, Reading Rooms, and Creative Collaboration Spaces

This option for remote workers combines all the characteristics of libraries, cafés, and coworking spaces in one innovative package—but they are so under the radar, there’s no clear category for them. They are usualy quiet, uncrowded and very affordable. They may be called private libraries or readings rooms, or use more modern terms like design center or collaboration space.

TCDC Thailand

People work from Thailand Creative and Design Center

These types of spaces are usually run by an organization as part of their larger mission, and they use memberships as a revenue stream. One example is the Thailand Creative and Design Center—a design institute and resource center with shop, gallery, and library with locations in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand. For about $40 a year, you can be a member of the TCDC and make use of its library space and Wi-Fi whenever you like.

Some private libraries are quite old—leftover from the days before the introduction of public libraries. They often have interesting book collections and exhibits housed in quiet reading rooms in historical buildings. For example, there 19 private libraries across the United States which offer annual memberships ranging from $15 to $300.

Museums, especially smaller private ones, may also have reading rooms or collaboration spaces where you are allowed to sit and work for a few hours. Facilities run by city governments such as public archives, community centers, or town halls may also include space for working and free wi-fi.

4. Hostel and Guest House Common Areas

Hostel in Beijing

Together Hostel in Beijing

Hotel rooms make great private workspace for remoters of all kinds. But hotels are costly. If you’re on a budget, you may prefer to stay in hostels than hotels. A hostel room, even a private one, doesn’t usually offer the kind of space you need to be productive (like a desk and chair). But hostels do offer lots of common spaces such as kitchens and cafes, and hostels usually have free Wi-Fi for guests. Many hostels even cater to digital nomads these days and offer dedicated space with proper tables and chairs—just like coworking spaces.

5. Other People’s Homes

Hoffice

Example of Hoffice

Working from home is the new normal. However, if you’re a digital nomad, chances are you won’t be a home all that often. But you could work from someone else’s home. Hoffice is a movement in which people who work from home offer their extra space to other remote workers, for free. Look for a Hoffice group in your next destination on social media networks. You can also use social media to look for a temporary home office outside the Hoffice scheme. Try posting in local groups on Facebook or Couchsurfing—offer to cook dinner or teach a new skill in exchange for a productive place to work!

 

To help you find these elusive workspaces, check out our post on how to identify a place to work.

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