Why I Chose a Location Independent Lifestyle

9 min read
digital nomad

Picture this: I'm 18 years old, fresh out of some random Belgian school, armed with graphic design and web dev skills, and ready to take on the world. The thought of a typical 9-5 job back home?

About as exciting as a bowl of soggy cereal. That's when it hit me -- the digital nomad life was calling my name.

Getting Started as a Digital Nomad

Getting started was tough, not gonna lie. But with a dash of bravery (and maybe a sprinkle of desperation), I ditched the Belgian waffles for a remote gig and began my nomad adventure.

I tried it all -- graphic design, web development, you name it.

Freelancing was my golden ticket to the world of digital nomad jobs, where one day I'd have a mountain view and the next, a beach backdrop.

I quickly learned that this lifestyle was perfect for meeting new people, diving into different cultures, and juggling time zones like a pro.

My office could be a quirky cafe in Chiang Mai, a coworking space in Bali, or a sun-soaked balcony in Barcelona. I was all about collecting experiences, not business cards.

The Digital Nomad Life

Let's be real, being a digital nomad isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes, a brilliant idea can turn into a frustrating Wi-Fi fail.

But hey, there's always a fix -- find a better cafe, get a faster VPN, or befriend a local with the Wi-Fi password.

I became a pro at dealing with spotty internet, especially when trying to explain a complex design to a client while sounding like a robot thanks to lag. I also mastered the art of tourist visas, health insurance, and maintaining friendships across the globe.

But that's the beauty of this lifestyle -- the surprises keep things interesting. You never know when you'll stumble upon the perfect workspace or land an amazing online gig.

Being a nomad is like a never-ending scavenger hunt, with new experiences, skills, and places waiting to be discovered.

Starting My Own Biz

Digital nomad working at a lake

The nomad life taught me a ton about hard work and resilience. As I worked and explored, my dreams grew bigger.

Freelancing was a blast, but I was itching to run my own online show. Enter the startup world.

My first baby, Officient, was a labor of love, late nights, and a whole lot of Belgian chocolate.

I created a bunch of open-source tools using Vue.js, React, and Next.js. My ventures schooled me in everything from nailing social media to the many ways you can ugly cry over code at 3 am.

The thing is, no matter how much you hustle or how many countries you've explored, there's always more to learn.

The entrepreneurial world was like an endless game of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?'.

But as I played, I realized that the digital nomad life was the real prize.

The Digital Nomad Community

One of the best parts of being a digital nomad is the sense of belonging.

Whether it's Facebook groups, coworking spaces, or random meetups at local cafes -- you'll find tons of people who get the thrill of wrapping up a project while waiting to board a flight and the pain of explaining your job to confused relatives.

Being location independent doesn't mean being a lone wolf.

Instead, it opens the door to a worldwide network of remote workers, each with their own wild tales and outlooks.

Swapping tips about the best work spots or how to handle a health insurance snafu abroad helps create a sense of community in a lifestyle that keeps you constantly on the go.

Digital Nomad's Survival Guide

Digital nomad gear

As the credits roll on this episode of 'My Life as a Digital Nomad', I can't help but laugh at the wild ride it's been so far.

But amidst all the craziness and uncertainty, I've figured out a few key survival tips for aspiring nomads.

  1. Steady Cash Flow: Whether it's online jobs, freelancing, or running your own biz, you need a reliable income. Having an emergency fund for those unexpected hiccups is a smart move.
  2. In-Demand Skills: Graphic design, web development, content creation, digital marketing, or even being a virtual assistant -- the key to thriving as a digital nomad is having skills that are hot online.
  3. Travel and Health Insurance: The excitement of discovering new places comes with some risks. Having solid travel insurance and health coverage can save you a ton of hassle abroad.
  4. Adaptability: Digital nomad life is like improv comedy -- it's all about rolling with the punches. From adjusting to different time zones to dealing with income ups and downs, being flexible is crucial.

Covid: When Home Was Everywhere

Let's rewind to my first startup, Officient, in the thick of things. As the name suggests, we were all about being efficient and official from our cozy Ghent workspace.

Three years in, we had an awesome team, a lively office, and dreams bigger than our daily coffee intake.

Then, plot twist: a tiny virus with a massive impact swept the globe. Covid-19 crashed the party, and like most businesses, we had to adapt.

Our buzzing office turned into a grid of Zoom squares. Everyone went remote, our joke-filled coffee breaks replaced by Slack emojis.

But every cloud has a silver lining, and for me, this newfound location freedom was it.

I travelled around, from Barcelona, to Lisbon to The Douro Valley in Porto, the home of Port wine. I even spent a few months in the Canary Islands, where I learned to kitesurf.

The Parisian Chapter: Bonjour, Digital Nomad Life

With my trusty laptop and dreams in hand, I took a chance and moved to the city of love, lights, and endless baguettes - Paris.

The city's charm was as alluring as the promise of the digital nomad lifestyle. I quickly learned that remote work could happen anywhere, even in a tiny Parisian flat with a killer view of the Eiffel Tower.

Despite the pandemic restrictions, living in Paris was a one-of-a-kind experience. It was like starring in a rom-com where I was both the go-getter lead and the starry-eyed dreamer.

Every day brought new places to discover and cultures to experience, without even leaving my neighborhood.

Living and working abroad also taught me the importance of health insurance, managing a foreign bank account, and navigating a new city's public transit. If nothing else, it was a crash course in Adulting 101.

Canary Islands: Not Just a Vacation Spot

After a year of croissants and polishing my French, I was ready for a change of scenery.

Next stop: the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the coast of Northwest Africa, known for its jaw-dropping beaches and perfect weather.

I arrived on the island, digital nomad visa in hand, ready to embrace the next chapter of my nomadic journey.

Here, my office had a 360-degree view of crystal-clear waters and sandy shores, and my breaks were spent learning to kitesurf.

In the Canary Islands, I stumbled upon a vibrant digital nomad community. Living in a coliving space, I met remote workers from all over, each with their own unique stories and experiences.

It was like a UN meeting, but with more surfing and less red tape.

Moving to Switzerland

My next move couldn't have been more different. I traded my flip-flops for hiking boots and headed to Switzerland, a country famous for its majestic mountains, stunning lakes, and incredibly punctual trains.

Here, I lost myself in the breathtaking beauty of nature, and when I wasn't working or exploring the Swiss countryside, I was writing blog posts about my digital nomad journey.

From the challenges of running a remote business to the joy of finding the perfect work spot in the heart of the Swiss Alps, each post was a chapter in my ever-evolving nomad story.

In Switzerland, I realized that digital nomad life isn't a sprint; it's a marathon. It's not just about finding the best workspaces or the coolest cafes to fuel your workday.

It's also about creating a home base in each new place, learning to adapt, and embracing the challenges that come with the lifestyle.

The Digital Nomad Mindset

Looking back at my journey, from the offices in Ghent to the cafes in Paris and the mountaintops in Switzerland, I've learned a few things about the digital nomad life:

  1. Balance is Everything: One day you might be pulling an all-nighter, the next you might be exploring a new city. Remember to find a balance between work and play.
  2. Never Stop Learning: Every new job, project, and city teaches you something. Whether it's new digital marketing skills or understanding different cultures, the learning never ends.
  3. Your Network is Your Lifeline: Connect with other digital nomads, join Facebook groups, and build a strong social media presence. You never know when these connections might come in handy.
  4. Embrace Change: Things won't always go according to plan. You might face internet issues, late payments, or even a global pandemic.

Learning to adapt and roll with the punches is key. So here I am, years into my digital nomad journey, still learning, still building, still exploring, still dreaming.

It's been a wild ride, filled with late nights, early mornings, unforgettable adventures, and countless cups of coffee. The road ahead is long, and the journey is ongoing.

But one thing's for sure: being a digital nomad is more than a lifestyle; it's a mindset, a celebration of freedom, and a relentless pursuit of living life on your own terms.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Ilias is a SEO entrepreneur and marketing agency owner at MagicSpace SEO, helping small businesses grow with SEO. With a decade of experience as a CTO and marketer, he offers SEO consulting and SEO services to clients worldwide.

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