Digital nomads – how is it in practice?
I started working remotely even before it became mainstream. The craving for a free schedule and the opportunity to work from a place where I feel comfortable, instead of going to the office, then from the office, wasting this invaluable time of my own life, has been in me since the beginning of the 2000s. Then it was difficult to implement in practice, although many technical means for this were already there, starting with Skype and ending with project management services.
In the early 2000s, I lived and worked in Israel and then tried myself in freelancing. It turned out with varying degrees of success. In 2003 I moved (or returned) to Ukraine and worked there in an office, in several IT companies of various sizes. In some, it was possible to work from home more often, in some less often, and in some it did not work at all, but this was all far from being remote, as we now understand it.
In 2011 I came to Israel again and got a job in one of the outsourcing companies, right “on the shore” agreed that I work remotely, but come to the office if necessary. It so happened to work for two years, after which I got a job in a large company, where the office was so comfortable that I didn’t really feel like home. Plus he was still 10 minutes walk from home, so for the next two years I worked in an office. However, the desire to travel and combine it with work did not disappear. After that, there was still work in Estonia, also in the office and then, for 4 years I got on a project in Ukraine, where it was originally supposed to work in the office, but the schedule was free, the relations were democratic and, after 2-3 months, we understood everything that 2-3 people from the whole team come to the office in a week. Basically, people prefer to work either from home, or in coworking spaces near their homes, or even in a cafe under the office. After that, they decided to switch to remote work, which allowed the owners to cancel the lease and use the saved funds to take another developer (the office was quite expensive in one of the most prestigious districts of Kiev).
I think with this project and start my life as a Digital Nomad. First, we left for the winter in Dahab (Egypt), a mecca for divers, kiters, wind surfers and yogis / hippies from all over the world. After spending 3 months there, despite the not very stable and fast Egyptian Internet, I realized that it is quite possible and quite productive to work this way. We returned to Ukraine, but instead of Kiev we decided to live in Vinnitsa, a small and very pleasant city. I worked remotely as well as from Dahab, except that I went to Kiev several times for some important meetings / teambuildings.
Then we again went to winter in Dahab, from where, three months later, we flew to Bali. We lived there for over a year, I managed to change the project, having worked with a Singapore startup, where I was hired remotely and worked, almost all the time, remotely. The only thing that I had to come to them for a month was when it was necessary to directly write the pairing of the iOS application with the piece of hardware that this application controlled.
Returning from Bali, we again felt itching from the notorious awl in one place and decided to go to Portugal, but life made its own adjustments and we again found ourselves in Dahab. As it turned out, at the time of the COVID story, it was an excellent choice. Having lived in Dahab for a year and a half instead of the planned 3-6 months, once again changing the project (this time to an application from Germany), we decided that it was time to explore new continents and moved to Colombia, to the beautiful city of Medellin (yes, the same whence the eponymous cortel). After living there for six months, as long as a tourist visa with an extension would allow, we moved to neighboring Ecuador, from where I am writing this post, again changing the project. This time on the intentional and completely remote.
Now about the pros and, of course, the cons of such a lifestyle:
– minimization of life in the style of a bio-machine. Each new country makes you live your life very actively and consciously. Even a trip by public transport is already a small challenge.
– learning new languages, cultures and making new friends from all over the world. For example, in Bali we have mastered Bahasa a little, in Egypt – Arabic, and now we are learning and practicing Spanish.
– life in those places and in the style that you want. You can choose everything according to your financial capabilities and your desires. For example, we always find great accommodations. In Bali, we lived in a villa with a pool, 200 meters from the ocean, we had a gardener, a baby sitter and constantly fresh fruits, vegetables and chicken meat / eggs from the nearest farm. In Dahab, we rented a two-story house on the first line, with its own beach and with such a view from the window that you can only dream of. In Colombia, we lived in an apartment within walking distance of the city center, with security, swimming pool, gym and excellent mountain views. Now, in Ecuador, we rented a separate house, with three bedrooms and a garden in which hummingbirds fly, and our town is included in the UNESCO list as an architectural and cultural heritage.
– contrary to expectations, the cost of such a life does not differ much from the life of a “settled” one, and is often cheaper. Although, of course, it all depends on the habits and the country / city where you are.
Perhaps this is the main thing that comes to mind, but if you have any ideas – write in the comments, I will be glad to discuss.
– Moving is a rather troublesome and costly event. We try to minimize the number of things, but we have a child and plus my paraglider and our diving equipment, the total amount is quite considerable. Well, the cost of flights, especially transatlantic or to Southeast Asia, along with luggage, is also not small.
– education for the child. Ours is still 5 and the problem is not so acute, especially since we are lucky with the kindergartens. Both in Dahab and in Latin America, we found kindergartens in which children are excellently developed. But soon we have to think about school and we cannot make a decision in what language and where the kid will study. Dedicated education has developed a lot over the past year, but this, it seems to me, is not an option for primary grades.
– some instability. Despite the fact that we live the way we want, we still have the desire to have some “base” in the form of a house somewhere on this planet. Well, no one canceled old age either, as well as a pension or some kind of passive income, which with such a lifestyle is more difficult to organize, but not impossible.
– visas, medical insurance and all that. This also takes a certain amount of effort, time and money. But our experience shows that with proper study of the issue, all this can be solved with an acceptable cost of resources. For example, Colombia has excellent medicine. We did eye surgeries there (laser correction and, in my case, lens replacement), served at a dentist, and my wife at a beautician. All this for reasonable money and with very high quality. In Ecuador, they got vaccinated against COVID simply by showing their passport, free of charge and without any problems.
That, in short, is all that I wanted to tell about my life and the life of my family in the style of Digital Nomads. I will be glad to answer any questions.
I will add a couple of photos of the places where we lived, for example.