Review: Coworking Options in Tbilisi, Georgia
One of the first things many digital nomads do after arriving at a new destination is to choose a coworking space. Tbilisi, Georgia, offers two coworking spaces — Terminal and Impact Hub — as well as Work From Georgia, an innovative coworking program that started during the summer of 2019.
Which to choose? There are pros and cons to each:
Terminal Vake: 34/36 Abashidze St.
Terminal Vera: 3 Akaki Khorava St.
1 day 30 GEL, 1 month 425 GEL, 6 months 350 GEL
Terminal has two locations, Vake and Vera, with Terminal Vake being much larger. Both are very modern, well-designed, and spacious facilities. Both also have lots of natural lighting, though they also use a “reserved desk” system, where you sit in the same place every day, and window seats tend to be taken up by folks renting long term.
Both locations are open 24 hours, though the doors are locked late at night and you have to ring someone for admittance. (A bit a of a hassle; keycards would be nice.) Each desk comes with a filing cabinet, where you can leave belongings over night (but you need to provide your own padlock). The chairs were ergonomically designed and very comfortable, as were the desks. There are plenty of conference rooms available to reserve for Skype calls or private meetings (every member is allowed an allotment of private-room time; additional time has an extra cost).
The Wi-Fi was strong and reliable, and the staff was always very responsive and professional. There is a small cafe on site with a limited menu, and there is a kitchen with a refrigerator and microwave. There’s an outdoor courtyard where you can enjoy a few minutes of sunshine, though be warned, there are frequently folks smoking outside. (Terminal itself is no smoking.)
Terminal Vake is near quite a few restaurants, coffee shops, fruit and veg stands, as well as other amenities, which makes it easy to run and take care off errands during the day. Snap Gym, which is terrific and has a 10% discount for Terminal members, is just a five-minute walk away.
The facility can be loud and there is no dedicated “quiet” room. Terminal’s rules say that calls at your desk are allowed, but only for a moment or two. Anything else, needs to be taken elsewhere. Ditto having conversations with others. It’s fine to chat for a few minutes, but if you’re discussing business or having a meeting, you’re supposed to move that to a conference room.
That’s not the way it works in reality. The “culture” of Terminal is different from say, Ko Hub in Koh Lanta, Thailand, or Hub Hoi An in Vietnam; it’s mostly local Georgians, not digital nomads. And Georgians can be a talkative bunch. Plus, the facility is home to many start-ups, who are often seated together, in almost constant open communication. Expect impromptu meetings, constant phone calls, media device noise, and just more noise in general.
When complaints are lodged, the staff is quick to deal with the noise issues. But in our experience, things typically quickly revert to form. Every digital nomad we spoke to was frustrated by the experience.
The one serious drawback to Terminal — the noise — could be easily solved by creating a “quiet” room where no talking is allowed. And, in fact, the management of Terminal says such rooms are in the works. Once that happens, we can wholeheartedly recommend Terminal.
Until then, if noise is an issue for you, we can’t recommend it, despite it being a beautiful facility.
8 Egnate Ninoshvili St.
Day pass: 30 GEL
HUB 50: 160 GEL (50 hours access a month)
HUB 100: 260 GEL (50 hours access a month)
HUB Unlimited: 360 GEL (Unlimited access)
HUB Fixed: 440 GEL (Unlimited access, fixed desk)
Part of the global Impact Hub community, Impact Hub Tbilisi is located in an old Soviet-era sewing factory that is part of the Fabrika complex (which includes a hostel). With one large light-filled space, Impact Hub has a very open feel to it.
Rows of desks take up most of the space, several glassed-in meeting rooms filling up the remainder. In addition to the high-speed Wi-Fi, there is small kitchen with a refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher. Private lockers are also available with the more expensive memberships. (And unlike Terminal, pretty decent coffee is provided.) The desks are tables, but functional.
Despite the open-air space, I found Impact Hub to be surprisingly quiet (disclosure: I only worked there one day). I did speak to one long-term member, who said it is mostly a quiet space, though he did allow it could get a little loud at times. (The meeting rooms weren’t as sound-proofed as they might have been.)
The pricing structure for Impact Hub was a bit more complicated that Terminal , but that allows potential members a great deal of flexibility. (Click here to see the entire breakdown of benefits with each level of membership.)
Founded by three local Georgians, Impact Hub has a less corporate, less polished vibe than Terminal, but it’s actually kind of charming. I found Impact Hub to feel more like a place in which globally-minded digital nomads would feel comfortable. The makeup of members is 1/3 nomads, 2/3 local, which was definitely more nomads than is found at Terminal.
Being part of the Fabrika Complex is a definite plus. (And you also get a Fabrika community card with the three higher tier memberships.) There is a very large courtyard with plenty of outside seating. A number of cafes, coffee shops, and bars surround the courtyard, giving it a very lively feel. As well, the hostel itself has a large dining area with relatively cheap, healthy looking food.
The chairs aren’t especially comfortable (not as nice as Terminal), and the surrounding neighborhood is unattractive and has fewer amenities than Vake. In five years, this will be a hopping part of town, but it isn’t there yet.
If you’re living near Impact Hub and want coworking, then I’d say this place is a slam dunk for you. It’s priced competitively with Terminal, has a bright spacious feeling, seems much more quiet than Terminal, and is located in the lively Fabrika Complex. And for digital nomads, Impact Hub might feel a little more like the kind of coworking we’re used to.
WORK FROM GEORGIA
Tbilisi is definitely an up-and-coming digital nomad destination, and that isn’t entirely by accident. Georgia wants the world to know they are open for business, which is why almost every visitor gets a year-long visa upon arrival.
Building on that drive to open Tbilisi to the world, the folks at Betterfly DDB came up with the very innovative Work From Georgia program, which connects digital nomads with local businesses willing to host folks — for free.
Instead of paying $150 USD for a month of coworking, you can pay nothing. That’s a pretty huge plus.
Work From Georgia is also easy to access. Using their platform, digital nomads can easily find which of the participating offices have desks available, what amenities are provided, hours of operation, and their location. With 31 locations, that means there’s a pretty good chance something will be near you.
In our unofficial survey of Work From Georgia users, the reviews were almost all positive. In addition to the cost, folks liked getting to work alongside (and get to know) local Georgians. The offices were all modern and comfortable.
CONS: Unlike Terminal or Impact Hub, most of these offices aren’t open 24 hours a day. Make sure their schedule coincides with yours. And if you make a lot of phone calls, there is no guarantee of privacy. In addition, some offices may object to the noise, so check this out in advance.
In addition, you have no control what kind of desk, chair, or work space you have. If something isn’t to your liking, you can’t exactly complain because you’re getting it for free. (But you’re also under no obligation to stay. You can just thank your host, try another office, or sign up for regular coworking.)
Finally, there is an expectation that you be at least a little social. After all, the whole point of the program is both to mix with — and get to know — Georgians. If this isn’t your cup of tea, this isn’t the right option for you.
VERDICT: This is an excellent, and affordable option, depending on your individual preferences and the office in question.
BRENT AND MICHAEL SAY: Having this many great coworking options is just one of the factors making Tbilisi such a fantastic digital nomad destination. And if you don’t like one of these choices, there’s a zillion coffee shops!