“I am a digital nomad”
I kept on hearing this phrase bandied about in recent times and it intrigued me. Basically, a digital nomad is someone who uses telecommunication technologies to earn a living, and more specifically, to lead a nomadic lifestyle. I loved the idea of freedom the lifestyle entailed.
Earlier this year, I was going through some soul searching about what I wanted to do next in terms of my career.
I had been ‘on the go’ for the last 12-15 years running my own retail business. Subsequently, I pretty much went straight back into corporate life which lasted the past couple of years. The pace was challenging as I was still in the process of winding my old business down. In July 2017, feeling quite burnt out, I decided to leave corporate work and was grateful to have the chance to take some time out to decide on what to do next.
One thing was clear, I wanted work location freedom in my next career.
Realising this, I asked myself what I could possibly do next that would allow me to have the sort of flexibility I required. Funnily enough, that was when I started to read or hear about “digital nomads”.
Co-Working and Co-Living
I like to travel and experience living in another city or country. Luckily, my previous work experience allowed me conduct work trips to London where I often stayed with family whilst making short sourcing trips to Milan and Florence.
Staying with family or friends provides a different perspective of the city compared to being in a hotel. Personally, it was a fantastic experience being a part of the daily activities that my family members led in their lives. Whether it was visiting the farmer’s market, contributing to the household chores, meeting other people who live in the area or city, visiting ‘the local’ for a meal and such, these experiences added another dimension to my stay.
I began to wonder if it’s possible to find a career where I could earn a decent income and work remotely. It didn’t have to be in Singapore, it could be anywhere. With the rise of the Internet, working from anywhere is possible for most jobs with video conferencing calls and communication apps to manage projects and teams.
Running my own business provided some form of autonomy. There were perks like coming home mid-afternoon from the shop or booking a mat for a quick yoga class before heading to the store. But underneath that perceived freedom of “being your own boss”, I worked ‘retail hours’. That meant being in the shop till 10pm for closing, waking up at 7am to go in early to ‘dress’ the store for an event, or working weekends and festive holidays because your staff needed a break.
While the flexibility was there, technically I was tied ‘physically’ to the store and this wasn’t quite my idea of freedom.
During my recent trip to Bali, I found out about a whole community of digital nomads based there. Companies like ROAM offer co-living spaces for people who just want to travel the world while working on their businesses.
With ROAM locations in London, Bali, Tokyo and Miami, travellers can choose where they want to be based and for whatever length of time.
It was an eye-opening experience to discover what is possible. The concept of co-working and co-living is a growing phenomenon, and after talking to the good folks at ROAM, I believe leading a digital nomad life IS possible.
Now to MAKE it happen. Onwards we go!