A Digital Nomad in Bali

This is a guest blog post from Emma Rosen, the woman behind the project 25before25, for which she tried out 25 different careers over the course of 12 months before her 25th birthday. This piece offers her personal experience of remote working.

It was a cold and wet January in London. There hadn’t been a single dry, sunny day in over a month. I was flitting between working in my pyjamas at home and working an office job in central London. I started work in the dark and finished work in the dark.

Mid-winter blues had kicked in hard and were making my feet itchy to get somewhere else. I started googling to see what my options could be. And googling. I got deep into a google hole. The result was my discovery of the idea of being a Digital Nomad. Maybe I could escape to a tropical paradise and work there too?

I started looking at co-working spaces, the homes of many Digital Nomads. One destination kept coming up again and again while I was searching: Bali. I had never thought about Bali as a travel destination, as all I’d ever heard about it was the stereotype of drunk Australians who turn up to party – an Australian Ibiza – and that’s not exactly my scene.

Further research changed my mind though. It turns out that Bali is also a haven for Digital Nomads and had even been identified as being one of the fastest growing start-up hubs in Asia – Virgin Entrepreneur named it one of the world’s best. That was something that made me sit up and take notice.

Could it really be done? Could I leave miserable London behind and replace it with Bali for a while?

I tested the waters with my jobs and asked if hypothetically I could work remotely for a month. To my amazement, they all came back with a yes! I’d found a co-working space which had faster and more reliable Wi-Fi than I had at home. I also reasoned that because of the 8-hour time difference, if I was given work to do late one afternoon UK time, I would have it done by the time my boss woke up the next morning, which certainly helped to swing the argument.

I planned to head out in early March, which was the shoulder season, in between the wet and dry seasons, but which still had “off-peak” flight prices. I worked out that my flights, accommodation and food would add up to about the same, if not slightly less than a month of renting in London, with bills, travel, food and socialising money. It suddenly seemed to be a bit of a no-brainer.

Without thinking much more about it, I decided to book my flights and accommodation with the co-working space, CoWorkSurf, and a month later landed in Bali.

It didn’t take long to settle it – it’s not hard to adapt to the constantly beautiful 30-degree heat, fresh dragon fruit smoothies in the morning and to working in a swimming pool.

In terms of my productivity, I was initially nervous that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate and instead would be constantly tempted to be a tourist. However, one of the main benefits of a co-working space is that you are surrounded by other people who work as hard as you, rather than backpackers. That everyone was staying at least a month helped too as my co-workers were settling in, rather than just passing through, meaning I had time to build friendships and get to know the highs and lows of their working life, as they did for mine. On many days I ended up working harder and longer than I would have at home, as my work schedule revolved around getting the job done and was influenced by the other people in the co-working space. If they were working into the evening, then I would too.

On weekends, I got to do all the sightseeing I wanted, driving all over the small island to see temples, waterfalls and rice paddy fields aplenty. I even managed a short trip over to the nearby Komodo Islands to see the infamous Komodo Dragons and to swim with a shoal of Manta Rays.

Digital Nomads stand to gain a huge amount by living the lifestyle they do; they earn in £ or $, but spend the local currency, meaning they are able to save a much higher proportion of their salary than they would be able to do if they were living in a major Western city. And of course, they aren’t tied to a specific place – it’s the ultimate way to see the world while you earn. This month it was Bali, but for them, next month could be Malaysia, Mexico or Morocco.

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Emma Rosen took a radical sabbatical and spent a year working in 25 different careers before her 25th birthday. You can read more in her blog: www.25before25.co.uk. Keep an eye out for her debut book, The Radical Sabbatical, which will be out in January 2019.

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