Sometimes when I think that it’s already been over two years since I decided to become homeless and office-less, I need to pinch myself. Despite the fact that I’ve been successfully living a life of a digital nomad and I should finally be used to it, there are still days when I simply cannot get my head around how lucky I am.
I just arrived in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, which is the 50th city (or maybe 51st, or more) that I have traveled to. I just set up my private remote office, with a laptop and a graphic tablet. My journey has been all around the globe, from Mexico via Puerto Rico, New York, Berlin, London, Qatar, Southeast Asia, all the way to Tokyo.
I’m a graphic artist and animator, working on a fixed contract– your normal 9-5 job…except it has been remotely. The interesting part about it is, that unlike freelancers, I have certain hours when I need to be present at my office and connect with my coworkers via Skype. For me it’s 9-5 CET, which means, that depending on the time zone I am starting my work at 3 AM or 4 PM. Both ends of the scale can be pretty crazy. Fortunately, my body is flexible enough and I have even stopped suffering from jet lags.
Having no home and such crazy working hours might sound like a nightmare for some, but I guess it simply depends on the person.
I can still remember the time in my life when the mundane of the everyday routine was slowly killing me. I had no inspiration, I had no challenges — “No alarms and no surprises.” For an artist that’s not the best place to be. And then a little spark of an idea made it more clear and I starting asking myself some crucial questions starting with the inevitable: What if…
What if I could have a never-ending home office, and my home could be nowhere… or everywhere? What if I could convert my home office into a world office? What if instead of dreaming about seeing the world I’d finally turn my dreams into reality?
And just like that, I decided to become a digital nomad, not even knowing the proper name for this “lifestyle” back then. And so I left everything and started a new life (even though my friends were warning me that I was gonna end up cleaning toilets 😉 )
Very soon I realized that this decision was an absolute win-win. My creativity went through the roof, along with my curiosity for the world. Even though I was always tired and running out of time, for the first time in a long time I started to feel alive again. Even if that might sound a bit pathetic, my first months were really like that. I was over the moon 24/7.
The first part of my digital nomad career started in digital nomad heaven – Thailand. I was waking up in the morning, going for a swim or a walk, and slowly eating my breakfast. I’m not a morning person but I was enjoying my sunny, lazy mornings.
My shifts were starting at 2 o’clock.
So I was slowly setting up my office, soaking in the afternoon sun, and when my senses were finally alive, I started my work. Eight hours of constant work, with a little break for some lunch and something even more important — a break for watching the sunset.
Evenings were the time to have another lazy stroll, a glass (or bottle) of wine and some conversations with people I met along the way.
Even with all the flexibility I have and all the places I still haven’t visited, there will always be a magical force dragging me back to Thailand and experiencing a memory of my “how it all begun.” Maybe it’s also because the schedule I had there really fit me, either way, Thailand is definitely a place I keep on going back to over and over again. Lovely people, beautiful beaches and temples, fantastic food and sunny weather – what else could you possibly want?
And if I had to pick one particular place where I love to work from the most, it would be impossible. There are at least four I’d like to mention though. All of them, of course, in Thailand.
First is the lobby of the Born Free Hostel in Bangkok – a simply magical place where I met my friends who later became my “Thai family.” The other 3 are co-working spaces– where each and every one have something unique to offer. Tao Hub in Koh Tao, where there’s this lovely warm atmosphere guaranteed by Moe who runs the place. Beachub on Phangan, because I love Phangan and the wonderful sunsets I can observe there while not even leaving my desk. KoHub on Lanta – because of the insane amount of curious, hard-working people who were making me be social, even if I was the grumpiest Sophie to ever exist.
I believe that the main trigger behind the decision to go full nomad is the hunger for life and the desire to make the most out of it. To live outside the 9-5, to live outside the box. And to find yourself.
Also, travelling has become way more accessible with lots of low-cost airlines and affordable stays. What could be better? Our digitalized world makes planning way easier than it used to be. A vast majority of us work on our computers, which are or can be portable. Today, the office is where WiFi and your laptop are.
“It’s such a silly life,” a fellow digital nomad once said.
“It might be very exhausting because you live two lives at once” mentioned another. And I agree with them both.
If you’re still not “one of us,” and are hesitating and not sure if you’ll be able to live like that, my advice is this: give it a try. You don’t need to sell your home and burn all the bridges behind you. Go for a month. See if this kind of living fits you. Nobody says that you need to jump from country to country every two weeks. The freedom of being a nomad is that you can stay in one place for a year, or you can be somewhere new tomorrow. It’s the flexibility and the freedom of choice that makes this lifestyle special. Oh and the beaches.
The decision to be a digital nomad changed my life and saved my sanity. So… do you think its your turn yet?
Hi there, I’m Sophie, though on social media I go by Zebra. I am a 2D game artist, which means I spend my days drawing and animating sometimes cute, sometimes funny characters for mobile games. Unlike most digital nomads, I have a fixed hours contract: a 9-5 job. I have been “homeless” since September 2015, have worked from around 30 countries and God only knows how many towns and cities 🙂
Follow me on Instagram @whereiszebra