This week, we hear from Amanda, a professional from Amsterdam who quit her job to travel the world. Eventually, she became a digital nomad, and has been living life on her own terms ever since.
While living the digital nomad lifestyle is a dream in many ways, it also has its downsides.
In this article, Amanda explains her three biggest struggles while living a remote lifestyle.
Two years ago I made the decision to quit my job as Brand Manager in Amsterdam and go on a self-discovery journey through Central America. After seven months of traveling for the sake of travelling, I decided to pick a place to call home for a while. In Bali I became a digital nomad, little did I know what this entailed. Here are my three biggest struggles while trying to live the dream.
Finding a Home
Sometimes you get lucky and find a place straight away. Sometimes it takes a couple of days. Sometimes you hop from one couch to the next and hope a miracle happens for you to find the right place within your budget.
The latter was when I moved to Amsterdam from Melbourne in 2013. If you aren’t an expat, finding a decent place within the city is nearly impossible. You really need to know people and be quick in responding. Airbnb and the expat scene have really screwed up the rental property prices.
For two months I had no stable home, and then found a tiny shoebox studio. I thought I’d stay there for just a few months and then find something better, but nothing better came along. In the end, I see why nothing did. I quit my job 1.5 years later, and had I found the ideal apartment I am not sure if I had ever left Amsterdam.
When I moved to Asia I had done my research through Facebook groups and found a room in Bali. There are many beautiful houses available on this island, but you do pay the tourist price for them. It’s not as cheap as everyone thinks it is.
Granada, Spain is much cheaper to live in! After Bali, I moved to Thailand. My partner, at the time, and I booked a hotel for two nights expecting we would find something easily. For two days we walked around knocking on doors.
It was hot. We were exhausted from the flight and anxious to find a home within our budget. It was the end of the day. We had nearly given up. We walked past an apartment that wasn’t on our list and something told me to walk back and just ask for prices.
The girl who helped us was the first Thai girl who spoke excellent English, she showed us a variety of apartments and they were all so modern and clean. We moved in the next day.
Finding a home can be energy sucking and frustrating when it doesn’t go your way, but sometimes you just need to stop seeking and the Universe will present to you whatever it is you need.
That might be a room in a favela, a couch of a friend, or a luxury apartment. I’ve stopped worrying now and have faith that whatever happens is meant to happen.
Work / Life Balance
Being your own boss comes with benefits but also many distractions. One needs to have the discipline to keep yourself motivated to work. The bonus of living in these warm and cheap countries, is that you don’t have to work the crazy amount of hours like you used to in order to pay the bills.
You can choose your times and work from a cafe, your bedroom, the beach. For me, however, I got lost in the work/life balance and purely worked. As I wasn’t earning much money I couldn’t justify going out to watch the sunset, taking a surf break or going to a yoga class.
I made myself work harder and longer hours than I would have done in my old job. Hours that were mostly spent worrying and searching for work.
I forgot that the whole reason I chose to live abroad was to immerse myself in the culture! It is one of my biggest regrets from living in Bali, not being active in the local community as I was too focused on work.
Right now I am in Lisbon, and I make sure I have me-time on weekends to go out and explore the region, I also network in the evenings and in the mornings. I run through the streets soaking up the amazing sights this city has to offer.
Building a Community and Then Leaving Again and Again
As I have moved every tw years or so since I was six, making new friends is quite easy for me. I’ll easily go to a new city and check out the meetup events they have and rock up solo to a salsa class.
I have been very lucky in my adult years. By living off campus in the UK, I met my core group of girlfriends that I still have to this day. By attending one beach volleyball training in Melbourne I met one incredible guy who introduced me to the whole community.
By attending one Girl Gone International Brunch in Amsterdam, I met my tribe of business women. By joining my very first start-up weekend in Bali I met incredible social entrepreneurs whom I continue to be inspired by.
I have met incredible people in every city I move to. However, maintaining the close connections is hard to do. I have so many Facebook/Whatsapp groups to keep up with it can get quite overwhelming.
I have actually planned certain calls in my calendar as if they are client meetings. I think it’s very important, if not the most important thing in life, to keep the relationships alive with those who have inspired you along your journey. Show them your appreciation and love and forever be a part of a community.
Leaving friends behind has also been something I have become an expert at doing. For some reason I just believe that if it’s meant to be, we’ll see each other again. I tend not to get attached too much to things and people, if you haven’t noticed.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult. The more vulnerable and open I become in sharing my life with others, the harder it has been to say goodbye. Especially to those who I can feel have become attached to me and my (supposedly warm and calm) energy.
I know how important it is to be a part of a family, to feel safe, to be in an environment where you can be yourself. Moving to a new country can be daunting because you’d have to start all over again.
I invite you not to be. I invite you to explore and be open minded. I invite you to get out of your comfort zone and experiment. If this lifestyle is not for you, don’t give up immediately. There will be struggles, but isn’t that just the excitement of life?!
Amanda is the founder of Hungry Hearts Love, a community that connects women social entrepreneurs to co-create on world changing projects. She is passionate about travelling, interviews people who do what they love, designs for social impact, connects with people over delicious home-cooked food and empowers women in her community to go for their dreams. Lisbon is her base for now, but deep down she knows home will forever be in her heart.