One Way Nomad of the Week - Kevin O'Niel, Remote Data Analyst
City of Origin: Phoenix, Arizona
Current Digital City: Antigua, Guatemala
First Digital Nomad City: Mexico City, Mexico
Current Job as a Digital Nomad: Data Analyst
Previous Non-Remote Job: Data Analyst
How long have you been a Digital Nomad?
What made you decide to become a digital nomad?
I was working remotely for a small period of time (in the US). There were some things that I would miss about being in the office. I found it to be a little bit isolating, especially because I wasn't in my home city, so I didn't have that social network that I needed.
Then I decided that it wasn't really fair to evaluate what working remote is like without really fully taking advantage of it.
To me, being able to travel to new places, meet new people, and be a part of this nomadic community is something I needed to experience before I could really evaluate what it feels like working remotely as a nomad.
Did any one person inspire you?
There was some influence from Instagram influencers with a ‘free lifestyle,’ but actually, I was more influenced by people that enjoy traveling a lot; not necessarily digital nomads.
I don't think I approached it strictly, ‘I'm going to be a digital nomad.’ I think I approached it as ‘I want to travel and not have to worry about the bills.’ Living off of savings seemed like a really great opportunity. This gave me a little bit of financial security.
What was your biggest fear of this transition?
Transitioning to being a digital nomad, I think I had some minor anxieties about things related to work issues. Was I going to be lagging in meetings? Was I going to be in a situation where I had to ask people to be overly patient with me?
But I think my bigger actual fear was how lonely it was going to be.
But to be honest, I feel like I have spent more time with people being a nomad than I did working remotely from my home city.
How did you make friends?
I searched different places where nomads have meetups, like NomadList. And then I joined the community WhatsApp groups. I also ended up consequentially meeting people from Couchsurfing.com. I would say another really great platform is Bumble BFFs. I connected with one person and then met several other people through those hangouts. These applications in Mexico City were very helpful.
What made you pick Mexico City as your first Digital Nomad City?
My original goal was to move around through North and Central America, so it was the first stop on that route. I knew that it was going to be a place where they're were going to be a lot of other nomads, so it seemed like a logical first destination.
What is the biggest struggle you currently have as a Digital Nomad?
Working full-time. It's very energy intensive to put everything that you need to put into work AND have that travel energy on top of that.
Every day after work, you just want to lay down, watch TV, or do some other mindless activity, but there's part of you that thinks, ‘oh, no, I should be out somewhere doing stuff.’ You can only have so much energy, especially depending on your personality type. So I found that to be a challenge. The fear of missing out.
What do you know now, that you wish you knew when you started nomading?
I think having more security about meeting people, going to events, and having things to do is really a formula of how much effort you put into it.
If you're looking for something to do and you're reaching out to people, you'll find things to do and you'll find people to meet.
What characteristic is most important to managing work/life balance?
I think being flexible is huge. There are a lot of times where things don't work out exactly how you want them to; I think this is even harder when you're nomading. For example, if it's a random dinner with friends that you see five times a week at home, maybe you don't care very much if plans are changed. But when you're nomading, if you miss out on dinners, meetups, or travel plans that you had, your priorities get thrown off. I think you have to just be okay with things not working out perfectly.
Where is next for you?
After Antigua, I think I'm going to take some time off and do a short trip to Belize and Roatan.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a Digital Nomad?
Worry less. It seems like such a huge jump, but from my perspective, what surprised me most is if you stick with your routine, whether you're in Mexico City, Antigua or, Michigan, you're still sitting at a computer getting work done. So there's maybe some comfort in that.
But I don't think you have to stress because things just have a way of working out.
I would simply put in the effort to meet people because it can get a little bit lonely. I think that's just part of what we're going through as a generation. But everyone is in the same boat, everyone feels the same way. My experience was that time goes by so much faster than you think it will. Also, I think there are a lot of pros to staying in one place for a longer period.