Occupational therapy: Can a cyber commuter prepare a retail worker for the life of a digital nomad? | Vacation
WDuring lockdown, we started the revolution from our beds and now it’s spreading to beach resorts. Realizing that remote work is entirely possible, many people are taking that ethos overseas. This was shown in 2021. Airbnb report 11% of the company’s long-term subscribers led a nomadic lifestyle and 5% planned to abandon their main home.
Barbados, Malta, Iceland, Bermuda, Spain, Croatia, Greece, Estonia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia (especially Bali) are among the countries developing digital nomadic visas and similar programs for remote workers.
But how does someone who has never freelanced, let alone worked abroad, prepare for such a dramatic lifestyle change?
Case: Luisa Tulouna works at Victoria Market in Melbourne selling chicken. She is studying digital marketing, website development and copywriting as well as Tesol (teaching English as a second language) with the idea of becoming a freelancer or teacher while diving into combat sports abroad.
Expert: Diego Bejarano Gerke is the CEO Wi-Fi tribe, a community of over 1,000 digital nomads from 63 countries traveling together. The logistics of living in each country are sorted by the chapter hosts employed by WiFi Tribe. He is also one of the founders A trip to the beachan online course to encourage people to work remotely.
Diego is in Bali as we zoom in, and he’s wearing the nice cans a digital nomad must have. He tells Luisa that he thinks hers is a similar quest, having given up working with start-ups (“failing a lot”) to become a freelance marketer himself.
WiFi Tribe started in 2016 when Diego invited a group of friends to work at a house owned by his parents in Bolivia. Gradually, that group became more nomadic, eventually evolving into a formalized order that accumulated recruits as they went.
Luisa wants to pursue her passion for Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which may take her to Thailand, Brazil or the Netherlands. Her interest in combat sports saved her life. “It helped deepen my desire for personal growth, and the constant challenges are enough to give anyone a sense of purpose and drive,” she says. Learning about the culture of the country she is visiting through martial arts and traditional arts would be a “main way of life”.
Before she leaves, Luisa plans to save enough money to last five months of her life, which she estimates is about A$9,500. Diego agrees. He believes people need at least three months of living capital and enough money to fly home in an emergency.
“If you continue List of nomads, you can just search for travel destinations and they’ll tell you the cost of living there, as well as the “livability,” he says. “I would take it with a grain of salt because you can usually live cheaper.
Diego advises Luisa to avoid any touristy place because the cost of living is higher. Koh Phangan Thailand has a healthy community of digital nomads Florianopolis in Brazil. Holland would be much more expensive. Arriving in the off-season will also keep costs down.
Luisa will immediately have a sports community as she joins the fight gym. To find a work community, Diego recommends looking for digital nomad groups on Facebook and following Reddit threads, as well as finding a co-working space that emphasizes community building.
He says it will realistically take a good month for Luisa to find her feet and she will probably be distracted by the touristy stuff. For this reason, it is best to move somewhere for at least three months.
“For the first week, I was probably just looking around at the gym you’re going to be at,” he says. “Decide if you need a co-working space or what coffee shop is the right place to work.” Diego says she should make sure her apartment has a desk and good internet “as a backup”.
Most digital nomads use Airbnb, but paid community couchsurfing services “might be worth a try,” says Diego. “I wouldn’t recommend hostels because most people live there at different stages of their lives and try to party while you’re trying to work.”
Sweating the small stuff before you arrive is smart. “Buy health insurance, travel insurance and several different credit or debit cards because you’ll inevitably lose some or have them blocked. Diego also recommends international banking systems such as Revolut and Wise. “They allow you to exchange currency at probably the best rates.”
To get Luisa ready for work, Diego tells her to make sure her phone isn’t locked to one provider and to buy a SIM card as soon as she lands. “Get 30GB data [with the sim] so you can continue to work using your phone as a hotspot when the internet goes out,” says Diego. It’s even a good idea to bring a pocket Wi-Fi router like GlocalMe in case it can’t get to a SIM shop.
When it comes to actual work, he cautions that getting a job on the ground — in retail or hospitality, for example — is often not an option. Tax rules and visa requirements also varies from country to country.
Diego recommends that Luisa immediately start building a marketing and copywriting portfolio using a platform like Processing or Fiverr. “I started my marketing with a family contact and asked if I could learn on the job and only charge half time, then I went to Upwork and that’s where I ended up,” he says.
Getting good reviews now is critical to attracting new customers. “If you have a first client you’re working with, ask them to bill you through Upwork,” says Diego. “You’re going to lose some money because of it.” [Upwork takes between 5% and 20%], but more importantly, you will create a portfolio and at the end of it they will give you a review. Just make sure they give you a review. The same goes for teaching English – you can put it in there too.
There are many remote job search platforms (some are free and some have a subscription system): Remote jobs for digital nomads; The digital world of nomads; Pangian, We work remotely, Flexjobs and Just remote.
One caveat, though: It’s common for freelancers to go through feast-and-famine phases, which is why those three months of savings are so important.
Luisa joined Nomad List and Diego signed her up for Beach Commute for free.
“The first stage is the preparation stage,” she says. “I need to accelerate my studies more before I run out of all the possible jobs I could get.”
“The second stage is building a portfolio, working for free or cheap to get a foot in the door, and the third stage is figuring out where I’m going and what I need to do to be in that country legally.”
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