City of Origin: Hong Kong
Current Digital City: Lecce, Italy
First Digital Nomad City: Athens, Greece
Current Job as a Digital Nomad: Customer Support Manager
Previous Non-Remote Job: Customer Success Manager
How long have you been a Digital Nomad?
What made you decide to become a digital nomad?
It was always something that I wanted to try. I was always attracted to the idea of traveling whilst working and doing it quite permanently. Particularly the idea of living in different cultures, not just on a holiday, but to actually get to know certain restaurants, get to know certain coffee shops, and have a barista in a city that recognizes me.
I wanted to feel part of a city as opposed to just being on holiday somewhere.
But then the actual impetus moment was definitely the pandemic. My current employer said, ‘yeah, we don't need you to be in the office anytime soon.’
So I picked up and got out.
Did any one person inspire you?
There was one person at my company who had been a digital nomad for about five years. In the month leading up to my departure , I was grilling her for all the information that they could share about making the transition.
What was your biggest fear of this transition?
Making friends. Full stop.
How did you make friends?
It felt like the first day of school a little bit. And I'm going to be honest, I wasn't good at it. For my first city, I was very much in a tourist mode, which was like head down and get work done. I made a list for myself: this is what I want to see in the city, these are the restaurants I want to go to, and planning activities. So learning to have an open agenda and sending out positive open energy in co-working spaces was a lesson I enjoyed learning. As soon as I did, things started to click.
I found Nomadlist.com really helpful - People on there host meetups in all kinds of cities. There are a ton of Facebook groups out there, and it seems like every city in Europe has a WhatsApp group of digital nomads too. And you can hit it up and say, “I've hired a car for this weekend, does anyone want to chip in for gas and come on a roadtrip?”
What made you pick Athens as your first Digital Nomad City?
I think in every city I pick, I want it to be somewhere with historical significance. It is a personal preference of mine because I really enjoy learning about history. The second thing, and less important was the weather, I was escaping London, so I chose heat.
What is the biggest struggle you currently have as a Digital Nomad?
Getting your mail sent somewhere! People and companies expect you to have a mailing address. There are solutions out there but they cost money, but truthfully, I’d rather it just didn’t matter. Mail is important enough for you to need it, but not important enough for you to want it.
What do you know now, that you wish you knew when you started nomading?
Project openness to people.
Say yes to everything. Don't let yourself say no.
Yeah, I've really been enjoying that, it’s led to fun times.
What characteristic is most important to managing work/life balance?
I want to say, being grounded.
You know what I mean? There are lots of comforts that you will miss. Your own couch, your own TV, your own bed. But yeah, ultimately you have a job to do. Regardless of the fun you are having, at 09:00 a.m, you gotta work.
Where is next for you?
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a Digital Nomad?
Sort out your money situation before you go. Don't dive into the lifestyle without a plan of how you will sustain it. There are plenty of people out there trying to wing it.
Also work out what you need. Work out your non-negotiables.
Particularly when scanning Airbnb, work out what will make you feel comfortable really quickly. For me, I need a kitchen where I can cook, a couch where I can sit, and that's about it. I don't feel comfortable in shared kitchens, so it's just a no go for me. And I'm going to add this as a piece of advice. If cooking is important for you, bring your own kitchen knives.