A new kind of tourism: co-working trips abroad

A co-working space used by Unsettled in Buenos Aires.

A co-working space used by Unsettled in Buenos Aires.

There are 30 strangers currently living together in Bali. There are another 30 in Mexico City, and 30 more in Buenos Aires. None of them are locals. None of them are on vacation. And this isn’t an episode of the Real World.

They’re all part of a co-working retreat, a new phenomenon where professionals try working from a different country for a month alongside an eclectic group of other internationals. Some are digital nomads, able to clock hours from anywhere with an internet connection. Others are on creative sabbaticals paid for by their companies, or between jobs and looking for inspiration for their next jump. The one thing they all have in common is they’re there to work.

Unsettled, the three-year-old startup that organized the programs in Bali, Mexico, and Argentina, puts on a couple dozen co-working retreats around the world every year. Step off the plane, and the company will provide transport from the airport, a local sim card, a membership to a local co-working space, a few communal meals, and a house full of 30 people looking to have transformational experience just like you. Unsettled describes the accommodations as “comfortable,” not luxury, and the internet service as “battle-tested.” Participants are given the option to stay for two weeks or a full month.

Alongside other companies like Remote Year and Terminal 3, Unsettled is carving out a new category of work-tourism where people are paying a few thousand dollars for a co-working experience abroad. An upcoming Unsettled retreat in Marrakech is priced at $1,750 to $2,500 for two weeks depending on the rooming options selected; a month in Medellin ranges from $2,200 to $2,500.

Unsettled co-founder Jonathan Kalan believes a break in routines—even if temporary—can help workers explore the possibilities of life outside the confines of their offices and nine-to-fives. Taking a month to work remotely from a beautiful place should be an easy sell to workers, but Kalan envisions a future where companies will pay to let their employees go on co-working retreats as an antidote to burnout and churn.