Digital Nomad Life: What It's Like to Work Remotely
I spent most of my career working in an office behind a desk, arriving in the morning and leaving in the evening, going home or out for dinner, and waking up the next day to do it all again. I started getting sick of this routine, felt miserable at work, and wondered if we always end up this way--hating our jobs.
It's been a few months since I started working 100% remotely and for the most part, I really enjoy it. I have a lot of freedom in terms of my work schedule which allows me to travel and explore when I want. That said, I don't know if this is what I want to be doing forever, but I enjoy it for now, and I'm not the only one. If you want to learn more about how to attain a digital nomad lifestyle, read on!
Digital Nomad Lifestyles Are Gaining Popularity
Right around the time I was let go from my job in January of this year, I read this article from the NY Times: "Out of the Office: More People Are Working Remotely, Survey Finds." The survey results show how the traditional structure of office jobs in various industries are shifting with regard to more employees working from home. The results of the survey are worth checking out if you're not convinced of this non-traditional work structure. I think in a few years from now, more and more companies will allow their employees to work remotely.
How Digital Nomads Find Remote Jobs
The jobs I have now I found using Indeed.com. Indeed makes it easy to search for jobs based on industry, position, and level of commitment (i.e. freelance, full-time, part-time, etc). In the 'location' field, you can enter the word 'remote' and tons of jobs will pop up. I also sign up for their email alerts so I don't have to spend much time actively searching.
Here are some other sites that I use to browse remote jobs:
Flexjobs - Really large database of remote jobs (personal assistance, data entry, design, etc). You have to pay a membership fee (one year, three months, or one month) to see and apply to the jobs listed.
WorkingNomads - This site sends you job alerts via email and is geared towards digital nomads in all industries.
Freelancer.com - Claims to be the largest database of freelance jobs on the Internet.
TravelMe.World - Remote and travel-specific jobs.
Jobbatical - Focuses on web/ online jobs and emphasizes exotic locations with nice photography.
For an extensive list of remote job websites, check this one from Skillcrush.
Tips on Balancing (Remote) Work and Travel
Working and traveling simultaneously is not ideal for some people, but I enjoy it for the most part. There's a lot of flexibility in terms of choosing your own schedule. My clients give me pretty definitive deadlines and all I do is make sure to submit good-quality work on time. Like any job, it is SO important to show up and be available online when expected, even when you may be working in a different time zone than your client.
This also means you might have to make sacrifices at certain points, like forgo a day trip or tour to be online or not travel on certain days if you know you have to work.
If You Don't Want to Try Digital Nomad Life on Your Own, Find Work & Travel Programs
If it's too overwhelming to plan out your days on your own, there are many programs geared towards digital nomads that take care of the details and structure of traveling and working as a digital nomad. Here are some popular ones I've seen in the last year:
Remote Year - One year abroad working and traveling remotely. Positives are you travel with a group of 50-80 people and each month, you move to a new location. Each place has WiFi access so you can get your work done without having to worry whether or not you'll be able to find a place with WiFi. Geared towards freelancers of all different industries, if you are accepted into the program, you are asked to provide a down payment (I applied but decided not to join and I think the amount was $5K-6K) which covers the first 2-3 months of accommodation.
No Desk Project - This one lets you choose how long you'd like to work and travel abroad (anywhere from 1-3 months). It is more geared toward those who have an affinity for health and wellness and volunteer work.
Hacker Paradise - Targets developers, designers, and entrepreneurs, you can choose to travel for as little as two weeks and as long as three months. They offer specific destinations and certain dates that you can apply for.
Digita Nomad Life: Positives + Negatives -
- Freedom to work anywhere
- Set your own schedule
- Travel to more places more frequently
- A lot of free time
- More selectivity when it comes to clients
- Diversity of work
- No coworkers/ office culture
- Less structured
- Can be expensive to go from place to place depending on the locations you choose to work from
- WiFi is not always reliable
- Not always able to travel when you want
Quick Tips for Digital Nomads and Working Remotely
- Schedule your days around your work
- Designate certain hours in the day to your work
- Get your work done in the beginning of the week
- Make sure you always have an Internet connection when you need it
- Always be looking for new opportunities and sign up for job alerts from the websites mentioned above
- Keep your Resume/CV and portfolio up-to-date
- Travel on days and during the times you know you won't need to be online (weekends, holidays, etc.)
- Get enough sleep!
- Stay healthy (I buy my own groceries and cook whenever possible)
- Have a routine (wake up at a certain time, exercise, etc.)
- Save money through cheap accommodation and work exchanges (I've used hostelworld, couchsurfing, and Workaway)
- Go to places where cost of living is cheap (SE Asia and Eastern European coutries are popular choices)
Thanks for reading! If you have questions about working remotely, get in touch ;)