1 Year & 12 destinations for the sun seeking Nomad – Part One

If you are anything like me then you’ll be a seeker of an eternal summer too.

There are of course many destinations around the globe that offer a year round perfect climate for the digital nomad. Cities such as Antigua in Guatemala, Medellin in Colombia and and Kigali in Rwanda offer a year around Spring like climate that appeals to many.

However being nomadic will probably mean you will tire of being stuck in one place and the world is a big place and is getting smaller. Always remember that medical cover too when you are going overseas!

So with that in mind I am going to take you through a year of perfect weather in remote worker friendly places.

Starting off from January to June.

JANUARY

Auckland, New Zealand – Jan average temp 20C

It’s the start of a new year and while the Northern Hemisphere shivers under grey skies, the South is approaching mid-summer and frolicking on the beach and in the warm sea.

My pick for January would start off in the largest city of New Zealand, Auckland. The city of sails is in full outdoors mode in January with lots of events, festivals with great city beaches packed with sun-seekers.

The cafe culture of Auckland will ensure you will always have somewhere cool to work from when you are not having a BBQ by the beach.

234_15143720685_7530_n
Auckland, New Zealand

 

FEBRUARY

Sydney, Australia – Feb average temp 25C

A three short hope across the ditch from NZ and you land in Australia and there aren’t many places on the planet better than Sydney in Feb.

Sydney’s long and enviable summer is very much in full swing this time of year with lots of events and activities to get in to.

Wake up early and head to Manley Beach for a surf then head to one of the 100s of beach side cafes that line Sydney’s shores. If you want to cool off from the fierce Australian heat then take a commuter train up to the Blue Mountains and be awestruck by the views.

20140115_150503
Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

 

MARCH

Saigon (HCMC) Vietnam – Mar Average Temperature 30C

So leaving Australasia behind we now move into one of the most popular regions for nomadic workers, that being Southeast Asia, famous for year round tropical sun and affordable living.

HCMC is very much on the backpacker’s trail in Asia and is a great base for the month of March which heralds the finish of the dry season.

The city can be over-whelming but has all the right ingredients for a digital nomad including free wifi in the many coffee shops and co-working centres. Accommodation is available for all budgets and the friendly locals will ensure you are never short of great food or a cheap beer.

Saigon, Vietnam
Saigon, Vietnam

 

APRIL

Bangkok, Thailand – average temperature 32C

OK so Bangkok is often quoted as the hottest city on earth (based on average daily temperatures) and April is one of the hottest months where temperatures can reach 40C! So why are we including Bangkok in April?

Well the Songkran water festival that takes over in April is worth a look for sure, just make sure you don’t have your laptop on you or put it in a waterproof bag!

Bangkok, the backpacker capital of Asia (the World?) is also a major centre for Digital Nomads, many of whom make the city their home for the year. It’s not hard to see why because compared to Europe and North America, the Thai capital is very affordable but has all those western comforts too.

The city is modernizing real quick but there are still street sellers and  strong Thai culture running through the traffic-clogged streets.

Just don’t forget your waterproofs!

284_23382320685_1033_n
Tuk Tuk, Bangkok, Thailand

 

MAY

Bail, Indonesia – average May temp 29C

So we are flying South again across the Equator to the resort island of Bali. Bali is a well established destination for sun seekers and digital nomads alike. It’s a small island and can be crossed in a couple of hours (traffic permitting, and the traffic can be bad!) and punches well above it’s weight in terms of what it has to offer.

The predominantly Hindu island has beach resorts, artistic centres such as Ubud, high mountains and volcanoes that can be climbed. Bali also has all the modern western comforts and suits budgets grand and small.

Ubud in the hills and Seminyak in the south by the coast are the two most popular destinations for expats and many split their time between the two. Villas can be had for a few hundred dollars per month, and while it’s not as cheap as it once was, it’s certainly affordable if you are earning anywhere near a western wage.

As of May 2014 the local currency Rupiah has crashed against major currencies such as the dollar, euro and sterling making it even more affordable

664872_10151085528945686_509430290_o
Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia

 

June 

Rome, Italy – average June temperature 28C

Rome is not one place you’d immediately associate with a digital nomad hangout but the Italian capital in many ways ticks a lot of boxes.

Firstly Rome is heating up nicely in June and is still bearable before the heat of July which can be quite oppressive to say the least.

Since the economic crash in Europe the Italian economy has suffered pretty bad along with other Southern European countries such as Spain and Greece. This was not good news for the country but it has been good news for visitors as Italy has become affordable again. While Rome is the capital and therefore more expensive than many places it is cheaper than it’s Northern rivals of Milan and Turin.

Rome is packed full of affordable accommodation both long term apartments and hotels too. There are many deals to be had on Airbnb and other booking sites.

The cafe culture is huge is Italy, the food is sublime and if you need a break from your work then you have 2000 years of history to immerse yourself and explore.

Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy

 

Look our for Part Two coming along soon that will feature the UK, Spain, USA, Mexico to name a few.

 

Established places to live as a remote worker

Being a digital nomad means you can generally live and work anywhere on the planet. There are of course some basic requirements for a place to have to make it a viable option e.g. living in a hut in the Borneo rainforest is going to be pretty cheap but you’ll need wifi, cafes and a social life!

The list below is not an exhaustive one by any means but do represent great value for money and an established digital nomad community. The focus of this article is on Southeast Asia.

Luang Prabang,  Laos

luangLuang Prabang, or LP as it’s known by many is a colonial riverside town in the northern part of Laos. The mighty Mekong river sweeps through the town and orange clothed monks go about their everyday business in a similarly majestic way.

The former French colony town is an architectural masterpiece and so laid back it’s a joy to stroll around at any time of the day.

Accommodation range is vast and you can easily pay $10 for your own room even on a short term basis. Apartments are becoming more common now.

Cafes/coffee shops are everywhere and they nearly always offer wi-fi. Laos telecom does also offer 3G services which can be a great back-up if you cannot get online.

There is great scope for a social life as LP attracts many long stay expats as well as a steady stream of backpackers. There are lots of bars although nightlife tends to be low-key compared to neighbouring Thailand.

In terms of cost of living LP is very cheap, excellent quality food can be had all over the town, from boutique restaurants.

The downside to LP is the remote location and relative difficulty getting there, for instance the road trip to the capital is still an all day bumpy ride and to the Thai border your best bet is a two day slow boat up the Mekong!

Chiang Mai, Thailand

tuk-chiangFast becoming the capital of the digital nomad world Chiang Mai has a lot of appeal to the remote worker. The biggest reason why you should consider Chiang Mai is because it’s cheap!

You can rent a great apartment for just a couple of $100 or stay in a nice hotel/guesthouse for $20 per night. I stayed in one last year, it was newly built so didn’t have a name even, but offered luxury for $15, huge modern flat screen TV so I could plug my laptop into, top quality furnishings and most importantly a super fast wifi connection!

One thing Chiang Mai doesn’t lack is places to work. At one end you have a couple of Starbucks but beyond that there are lots and lots of independent coffee shops all competing for your baht.

CM also has a selection of shared work spaces, ideal for those who are in the city for a longer period of time and who are looking to hook up with other nomadic workers.

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

bali-beachUbud is probably more famous for being a centre for arts, yoga and all things cultural. The ever expanding town which is actually and conglomeration of villages sits on the fertile plains away from the madness of the Southern Bali resort towns of Kuta/Seiminyak.

Ubud has been attracting travellers for years and it’s no longer off the beaten track. With a huge array of accommodation options it is actually very much on the beaten track now.

The temperature is ideal too and being up in the hills means no air conditioning at night. However it does seem to rain a lot, even in the dry season, but don’t let that put you off because the rains are usually over very quickly.

Wifi is available in many places throughout Ubud from coffee shops, guesthouses to shared office spaces such as Hubud.

I would say Ubud is particularly interesting for those digital nomads who are in holistic trends, yoga and the arts. There are many Yoga studios that double up as places to hang out and even work from such as the Yoga Barn.

Ubud is a pretty cheap destination to stay particularly if you are prepared to sign up for a number of months on a lease for a villa. Even those who only plan to stay there short term will be impressed with what you can get on a short term basis and it’s still possible to find a basic room for under $20!

If you do want to escape the lush green rice paddy fields of Ubud (why would you?) it’s possible to head to a number of beaches that are an hour or so away by shared car or minivan. One of the negative aspects of Bali is the fact the island is becoming over-populated and traffic is a nightmare to say the least and getting anywhere can be time consuming.

If you are happy to stay in Ubud then you will probably need a motorcycle or bike to get around as the area is quite spread out.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

angkorSiem Reap (means Siam defeated!) is one of the fastest growing small cities in Southeast Asia. There is one reason for this and it’s in the shape of the World Heritage site of the ancient city of Angkor and the temples including the main attraction Angkor Wat.

SR is located in the north of the country and not too far from the border with Thailand. The route to the border use to be legendary with hardcore backpackers who spent the best part of a day being trucked from the Thai border along a very poor road to the city but this has been upgraded and Siem Reap is well and truly on the tourist map now.

This has also been helped by the relatively new airport of Siem Reap which has direct flights from many of the capital cities in Asia as well as domestic flights to Phnom Penh.

SR is well and truly on the radar of digital nomads these days. This is in part to the international feel of the city and the very many cafes and bars that caters to all from jet-setting high roller tourists to shoestring backpackers.

Also the visa situation is very good compared to all other Southeast nations, particularly the likes of Thailand and Indonesia. This is because anyone can arrive in Cambodia and buy a business visa for $25 month that actually means you can legally work there, so you could open up a local business to go along with your online ventures.

SR is small enough to walk pretty much anywhere although it is fast spreading out into the surrounding countryside so this may not always be the case.

Accommodation is very affordable and widespread catering to all budgets. A small apartment could be had long term for $200 to $300 which is cheap even by South-east Asian standards, yet you have all the facilities a Westerner would hope for such as international restaurants and supermarkets catering to Expats.

Indeed import tax is pretty low in Cambodia so foreign goods can be bought cheaper than in neighbouring countries.

There are lots of cafes and wifi is available pretty much everywhere. Also Cambodia has a surprisingly good 3G mobile network too so you won’t always need that wifi password.

Perfect ingredients for a coffice

Working in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, back in the early days of 2006

The ‘Coffice’ is where a digital nomad might go to work. It’s a marriage of coffee and office that’s becoming a well used term in digital nomad circles and was first coined by the website http://www.thecoffice.biz/.

I have over 7 years experience of working from coffices all over the world and have compiled an essential list of things to look for in a potential work-space.

1. LOCATION

Good to have coffices near to where you live. I personally dislike having to drive to work or catch public transport. Having a coffice nearby that’s walkable saves you money, keeps you fit and helps the planet. After all, not having to spend too much time and money on a commute is one of the major plus points of being a digital nomad.

2. ENVIRONMENT

For me I look for a spacious property, somewhere that’s not full of prams where too many tables have been crammed in.

In a hot country I would look for air conditioning unless I can sit outside somewhere breezy. In a cooler climate then a comfortable level of heating is a must, but not too much.

Noise is an important factor too and I find that if a coffice is too big then noise levels can be intolerable! I was in a coffice yesterday and I actually downloaded an android app that measured sound and was shocked to see it was 80 decibels! That’s the same as being on a busy street with traffic roaring past.

3. CAFE TYPE – Independent v Chain

I tend to lean towards working from chain coffee shops rather than independent ones. This actually goes against what I usually do, in fact if I am meeting a friend for coffee I will go out of my way to avoid chains.

My experience is that chain coffee shops are usually staffed by students, part time workers and younger people who generally won’t mind you sitting there all day hogging the bandwidth and air conditioning for the price of a small Latte.

Independent places tend to be staffed by the owner(s) and therefore one might not feel so comfortable as presumably they care more about you taking up a seat, and I don’t blame them either.

To sum up

Wifi for me is no longer a consideration as I travel with a mobile phone that can act as a hotspot via 3G. Eventually this will be 4G which I found extremely fast while in the US recently.

I once rented some shared office space that was pretty cheap but I found the problem was that no one ever seemed to use their desks so I would often be sitting alone – something I could do from home for free!

I have noticed recently that many of these shared offices have closed down recently in my home city perhaps partly due to the rise in coffee shops.

In my home country of the UK coffee shop culture has well and truly taken hold and that bodes well for the growing number of digital nomads.

[CP_CALCULATED_FIELDS id=”6″]

 

Location will not matter in the future of work

Some of you may not know the reason I ended up working for myself as a location independent professional. My previous job was outsourced, a term that we have all become familiar with, and I saw this as an opportunity to do something for myself.

I could have retrained, updated my skill-set and got back on the wheel but I felt I was losing a fighting battle (being at least 10x more expensive than someone in India / China in my industry for instance).

The irony is that I now outsource work myself.

The future of work is thought to be flat, where location is not the key factor but communication is. Competition for your job will be global, but the opportunities will be vast for those who embrace the future.

It’s pretty scary really. What’s stopping someone in Vietnam competing with me for my advertising revenue? If I can go and work in Bali for six months and run everything from there, then why can’t a Balinese compete too?  The web is enabling that.

It has got me thinking about what can I offer in the future that would be hard to replicate elsewhere. Working online leaves me pretty exposed but I have been thinking more local, where I have the knowledge, contacts and emotional ties. This could be my value add over someone from the Far East.

Much of the work and business today that’s conducted online is not reliant on being local or having local knowledge.

I wonder how many people are only living in London because of work? I moved there for work in the late 90s and at the time work was my only motivation. London of course is a fantastic city to live (if you have money) and many choose to live there simply because its so vibrant and exciting, but how tempting would it be to take your job and salary to a more affordable part of the country or another country altogether?

The future of work might well be that location is not longer a factor*. If that’s the case then will businesses still locate to expensive cities with expensive work forces?

There is a little video linked at the end and its worth watching for the 6 minutes as it is pretty thought provoking.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8Yt4wxSblc

* Of course some jobs, such as those that involve physical work will always be local.

If you are looking for travel insurance for over 85 then consider some of our partner sites. If you travel abroad you should always ensure you have a good level of cover.

New webhost and forum

I have finally ditched my old web host who to be fair have been pretty good over 5 years but it was time to head to new pastures where I could ensure to have updated versions of fourm and blog software.

However the change over has been a little messy but think I am getting there now so thanks to all the forum members who have been patient with me!

This should herald a new start for the site and will hopefully continue to inspire a new wave of working nomads!

Travelling soon to a foreign country? then look at your travel health information and tips. Traveling overseas then you will need over 70s travel insurance to ensure you have any unseen medical costs covered because medical bills can be very high otherwise.

Other links for this story

www.justyou.co.uk

New York holidays LetsGo2

 

Working nomad blog is back, again!

Well it’s been almost a year since I last blogged, tweeted, etc etc but I have decided to share again my wisdom and life with the online world. I have been based in Bristol, England now for approaching two years so not really nomadic anymore, but rest assured people, the spirit of wanderlust still burns in my soul.

So here is a short introduction to the my new adopted city, the grand old lady as Lonely Planet put’s it.

There are over 20 other Bristols scattered around the World and most of them lie within North America. The one I reside in is the original, of course, and home to the first bar of chocolate ever made…and I bet you didn’t realise that Bristol is also home to Lara Croft and Harry Potter?

There are quite a few famous Bristollians including the World’s first test tube baby and Vicky Pollard.

Well that’s enough about Bristol, lets talk about your humble host! What have I been doing in all this time? Well did you know that in two days time it will be this site’s 5th birthday and what was effectively the start of my new way of life? 5 years of no bosses, coffee machines, office air con, commuting, annoying co-workers, deadlines, stress, back stabbing, office politics etc

Has it all been worth it? Well I wouldn’t have changed much to be honest. Sometimes I regret a little not making more of a go at gaining residency in New Zealand, but when I left the country I knew it was the right thing, and the opportunity should always be there, but in truth I have probably not been this settled since, hmmm, well actually a long time, and probably the biggest factor is all the wonderful friends I have here now.

So what of the future?

Well I tend to live day to day these days. I have some plans to make a break in winter for somewhere warmer but it won’t be for too long like before.

Finally I hope to share with you some of the things I have learned recently about web trends and advice for starting up yourself. Opportunities to run your own online business are still abundant as we spend more of our lives online, so even if you are just slightly curious then stay tuned!

A Brief History of Me

Lots of new visitors come to my site and probably wonder what I’m all about. The task is not made any easier by the fact most of my original blog is still offline and it would take yonks to read through it all anyway! So here is a short recap.

My story begins begins back in 2002 when for some unknown reason I decided to go and travel around SE Asia for three months. That three months turned into one year and included trips to NZ and Australia.

I came back to the UK in November 2003 a changed man. Within a short while I was back in the London rat race from which I had escaped in 2002. It was at this time I started to create small websites as a hobby. I was working as a web developer on contracts with my background in I.T. nerdy stuff.

Fast forward to September 2005 when I was possibly a little depressed (more so had England lost the ashes) and thoroughly fed up living and working in London. It was then a timely thing happened as I was made redundant from my job. It was time to turn a negative into a positive and to book a one way flight to Bali, with laptop in tow!

Although I had some savings I did not want to rely on them. I was earning a modest amount from my websites, around £400 month, which was enough to live comfortably in SE Asia.

For the next three years my nomadic existence allowed me to visit many different countries, meet some great people, experience some unforgettable adventures and all while being occasionally ripped off along the way, particularly in Asia.

As with any journey it’s not all been plain sailing and I have had times of feeling lonely and thinking ‘what the hell am I doing with my life!’.

With some luck, determination and hard work I have now managed to build up a sustainable online business and can live a comfortable life pretty much anywhere outside of Scandinavia. However, like any business, things can fall away and I don’t really have a plan b.

Going back to working in an office would involve a reluctant step back into my past. I do try and look forward these days. I know they’ll always be other options.

I have learned so much about myself over the last four years. Sometimes it feels like none of it ever happened but I guess that is true of many things. I remember when I finished University and it just never seemed I was ever there (true in the case of law lectures!).

Do I regret it? Well I could do. There is a gaping hole on my CV that could be easily filled with the words ‘Beach Bum’ or ‘Techno Hippy’ but that’s an opportunity for me to be creative. I think as I have become older I generally regret less because I have come to realise that there is little to be gained from regret.

So follow your dreams people, whatever they are. Like me, they might not always end up where you expect them to be, but that’s half the fun.

This post brought to you with ssti in conjunction with.

Working nomad blog is back

Hey everyone I am back blogging again after a lengthy layoff!

So you probably would like to know what’s been going on with old Webby, or maybe you’re not that bothered, in which case you have to ask yourself why am I reading something that I’m not interested in, which is probably not much better than reading about someone that you are partially interested in.

Anyway, I am semi settled in the UK, well Bristol to be precise, a city of idiot drivers and funny accents, and still working away on the web and generally living a happy and free existence.

I got back from my last trip in January, to a cold winter from a scorching Perth in Western Australia where I spent a number of weeks travelling around in a rental car not really knowing what I was doing or where I was going.

The weather is now improving and I am looking forward to getting stuck into the outdoor pursuits that provide me with an escape.

As for this blog, well I can’t promise tales from far off lands, or nightmare long bus trips or even coconut throwing monkeys but I do want to continue to inspire others to get off their fat hairy butts, do something different with their lives and to try and strive for a taste of life where they have more control over their time.

So I hope you follow me again. If you have any interest in breaking free from the rat race then you’d be foolish not to.

…..and don’t forget our forum where you’ll find many other like minded souls who are battling away and unselfishly giving their time to help others.