Wednesday, September 22

Work is where your laptop is: meet the globetrotting digital nomads | Work and careers

Samantha Scott does not miss her daily commuting in London, especially “the fear of having to wake up and get on the tube and head to work sweaty and nervous. I still wake up at 6 or 7 a.m. M., But I can take a walk on the beach before I start working. “

When she and her partner Chris Cerra arrive with their luggage in a new city, they can easily be mistaken for tourists. But they are part of a new generation of “digital nomads” who jump from one country to another to live and work.

The global shift towards flexible working brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic means that more people are considering leaving their long-term homes to travel the world, working from their laptops, tablets or smartphones.

Samantha Scott and Chris Cerra.
Samantha Scott and Chris Cerra. Photography: Chris Cerra

In the past week, an Airbnb report titled Travel & Living showed that 11% of people who book extended company stays in 2021 have reported that they lead a nomadic lifestyle, and 5% plan to give up their main homes.

Delia Colantuono, a 31-year-old freelance translator from Rome, became a digital nomad five years ago when she wasn’t a “big deal”.

Now he has lived on five continents and says that the nomadic lifestyle “is not just for the rich, it is for anyone who can work remotely and wants to.”

Many places are keen to attract long-term visitors, which means bargains can be found. Colantuono has been renting a villa on Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands with three other nomads for € 450 (£ 390) a month each.

Delia Colantuono from Rome, Italy.
Delia Colantuono from Rome, Italy. Photography: Delia Colantuono

Cerra, 28, a technical research and development consultant for a financial boutique, lived in several cramped shared flats in London and later rented an apartment with a friend for £ 1,000 a month per person. Since becoming a nomad, accommodation costs have ranged from £ 300 in Asia to over £ 1,000 in Stockholm, Sweden.

High-speed Wi-Fi is at the top of the nomads’ wish list, followed by a good workspace (desks or a large dining table), a decent kitchen, and comfortable beds.

Chanin Kaye, 51, and his partner Jason Melton, 46, have been on a seven-year road trip from Mexico to Argentina for six months, spending about a month in each city. They decided to leave their home in Seattle because they love to travel and save money to pay off big student debts.

“Seattle has a very high cost of living,” says Kaye. “We had a large house with two other roommates, and we were still paying $ 2,400 (£ 1,690) a month, including utilities. Here [in Mexico] We never pay more than $ 1,200 all-inclusive and often less. “

They realized during the pandemic that they could keep in touch with their adult children remotely “and feel close even when we are not physically close.”

Melton quit his sales job, and the couple now run an accounting business remotely that Kaye has established. “We work all day and have adventures all weekend,” he says.

Kaye estimates that the couple saves 70% living on the road and wants to be debt free within five years and eventually buy property somewhere.

Colantuono and others are aware of the environmental impact of their jet-set lifestyle and want to settle down eventually. Several people, writing in a Facebook digital nomad forum with 15,500 members, say that age is not a barrier, but emphasize the importance of being fit and healthy; and one says that a downside of this lifestyle could be a feeling of uprooting.

There don’t seem to be many digital nomadic families with children; Traditionally, only a few families, often home schoolers, have traveled the world. Erin Elizabeth Wells, a 41-year-old productivity consultant from Massachusetts, began traveling the United States with her husband and daughter Eleanor, who is now nearly four, in October 2018, and says they are a “global school family. ”.

Traveling with family means they travel slowly, but that means they make friends everywhere they visit, he adds. They live in Airbnbs or other fully furnished rentals and “plan to continue indefinitely until there is some reason our family needs something more.”

As parts of the world gradually reopen after Covid restrictions, a growing number of people are enjoying new flexibility to work from anywhere. Last year, nearly one in five Airbnb guests used the site to travel and work remotely; And this year, 74% of the people in your survey from five countries have expressed an interest in living somewhere other than where their employer is located. Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, said: “The lines between travel, life and work are blurring.”

Cerra says: “For a long time, this kind of lifestyle was considered really, really, quite out of the ordinary. What we are seeing is that everything tends to make this a little more normal now, more accepted ”.

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