For the last seven months, the view from my office window has changed from endless rows of banana plantations to a Latvian pine forest, all the way through to a Moorish palace. Before you start wondering exactly what I put in my morning brew, I should explain that my partner and I are digital nomads, meaning that we work entirely online and have the flexibility to move countries every month. This constant change of scenery can be a little hectic at times, but enriches our lives with a constant feeling of adventure and exploration.
In this article, we’ll tell you how we achieved our dream jobs as well as all of the tips and tricks that we’ve learned along the way – and if it all just starts sounding too good to be true, just wait until you read about some of the pitfalls we’ve fallen into…and how to avoid them!
First, it’ll probably help if you know what I do for work I work as a freelance content creator and copywriter in the food, travel and tech industries – although I’m happy to turn my hand to anything new when exciting opportunities arise.
How did we get here? From very early on, my partner and I had decided that traditional office work just wasn’t for us. We craved the freedom of a backpacker coupled with the financial autonomy of being our own boss. So we turned to the internet…
My partner started out by working as a freelance copywriter and eventually landed a gig as editor at a tech website (of which he’s now the owner and operator). After ditching the 9-5, we set off on a 10-month adventure around Asia that was cut short after just four days by a motorcycle accident, which took us out of action for five months. Although it didn’t seem so at the time, this was the best thing that could have happened to us as it was during this time of convalescence that we started planning our lives as digital nomads.
I had a slightly slower start to my freelance career because for the longest time I had zero clue what I actually wanted to do. All I knew was that I loved to travel and never wanted to be in a situation where if I wanted to go away, something was in place that could stop me. In this respect I was actually quite free to accept new opportunities, as I wasn’t necessarily chasing an end goal ‘career-wise’, but rather trying to cobble together a strong enough skill set so that if someone ever did offer me temporary work, I could feel confident in taking it on (perhaps with a little research beforehand).
After a few years of working with start-ups and online clients, I managed to rack up a decent amount of work as a writer, so much so that work started coming to me, rather than me to it. Phew.
Once we were both able to work remotely, there was no real reason that we had to stay in one place. So, after doing a little research we came up with a way in which we could move around each month without our expenses jumping up significantly.
So, where do we live? Picking the towns and cities that we actually want to live in for a whole month requires a lot of research. In our minds we have to balance affordability, lifestyle, language, places of interest and a desire to actually explore and understand the area itself.
We decided to spend 2017’s summer, autumn and winter in Europe, so after reading through countless posts entitled Top 10 Quaintest Towns In Europe, Beautiful Locations In Europe That Won’t Break The Bank, Europe Undiscovered: The Hottest New Holiday Destinations For 2017 (you get the picture), we settled on Puglia, Riga, Granada, Terceira, Lisbon and Tenerife to see out the year. All of the locations filled our checklist of being hot, affordable, beautiful and interesting.
Our day-to-day During the week (Monday-Friday) we work, but we also like to take our surroundings into consideration when deciding on our actual hours. In Puglia, we were living right by the sea, so would get up early, go for a swim and come back via the bakery and greengrocer before starting work with a coffee at around 11am and finish up in the early evening (between 7-8pm). Once we arrived in Tenerife in December, the sun had started to set a bit earlier, so we made sure to stop work at around 5.30pm to give ourselves enough time to head to the coast for a long sunset walk.
On the weekends, we research the best things to do in the surrounding area, which could be anything from a toboggan ride in a Latvian forest, a weekend away in a neighboring Pugliese town, a dedicated surf trip in the Algarve, hiking a volcano in Tenerife national park or exploring the ancient palace of the Alhambra.
What’s Next? The great thing about this lifestyle is the flexibility that it allows – nothing’s set in stone – so if you want to cut out a location or add another one in, you can. While the flipside of that coin is a lack of security and the ever-present possibility of a stressful itinerary change, it’s all part of the digital nomad tapestry. As far as 2018 has in store for us, we’re chasing the sun down under to Australia, popping over to Bali and Canada before heading back for another four months of Euro-hopping… and then? We’ll see 😉
So, there you have it: the brief history of my freelance career to date. Now you know what we do for work, let’s get into the arguably more interesting guide to how we move around the world month on month in Digital Nomading 101.