Freelance Abroad from Santa Marta, Colombia

Colombia has become the Digital Nomad Mecca of Latin America. So it was obvious we had to go spend some time there. But, as I’m always skeptical of very popular places (okay, I wanted to stay at the beach), we didn’t go to the actual epicenter. That’s in Medellin for those who haven’t kept their fingers on the Digital Nomad pulse. Instead, we chose to spend two months in Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast.

So what did we think? Here’s the short version:

In comparison to Granada in Nicaragua I’d say the city is worse but the surroundings are better. Don’t get me wrong, the city itself is alright. Still, it’s places like Palomino Beach, Tayrona and Minca, which tip the scales. So why not go stay at one of those awesome places? Convenience. Santa Marta and the nearby Rodadero have fast internet, as well as plenty of supermarkets, cafes, and restaurants. Services are stable, with power outages being few (for a developing country). All that is less true in those awesome places. And since Santa Marta is only at most a few hours away from them, it’s a great place to set up shop.

So there you go. If you were planning to skim the article, that’s about the gist of it. Thank you for tuning in. For those that wanted a more elaborate answer, follow me.
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My Life As A Warning To A Friend And A Whole Generation

I don’t talk much about my past. I don’t like doing it. You could say I’m a private person. Besides, to me, ideas are far more interesting than I am. That’s why rarely use my stories in my writing. Yeah, I get they’re great literary devices. But there are enough tricks and techniques that I don’t feel the need to put myself on display like that.

Somehow, it feels exhibitionistic or self-indulgent.

Today I’ll make an exception. That’s because other literary devices won’t let me get my message across. After all, who is going to listen to yet another glib this-is-how-you-should-live-your-life post if I’m not personally invested? The internet is filled to the brim with those types of texts and most make about as much difference as digging in a desert.

That won’t do for this article. Here it is important to me I have an impact. Otherwise, I suspect a friend (and those like him) will follow the same path I did. For, as George Santayana’s said, “Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.”
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How To Effectively Deal With The Strain Of Freelancing

Sure, freelancing has some big plusses, with the biggest one being the freedom. I love that freedom. A while ago we just got up and moved countries (something I described at length in the myths of Digital nomadism). Right now, I’m working in my swimming trunks, as after this I’ll be going for my daily swim in the Caribbean.

At the same time, freelancing isn’t some flying unicorn farting rainbows. There are downsides. The biggest one is the other side of that freedom coin – uncertainty. We’re creatures of habit and with freelancing that goes right out of the window. For many, that’s stressful.

So how do you deal with it? Well, being more proactive helps but isn’t a cure-all. The best tool is time. The longer you do it, the better you get at it. That’s down to you having a reserve of previous experiences to mellow out the downs and lessen their impact. So stick with it. It will get better.

Of course, that won’t help you much if you’re not feeling that great right now. So, for that reason, here are some ideas to help you acclimatize that bit faster.
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Why It Is So Important To Be Part Of A Community

We don’t understand ourselves that well. The more time the behavioral sciences spend studying us, the more judgement errors they find. For example, Daniel Gilbert spends a whole book on how bad we are at figuring out what makes us happy.

At the heart of the digital nomad life resides a similar misconception. We have an inborn need to belong and be part of a community. And yet many people seek out this life to be free and unattached. They don’t seem to realize that when a need goes unfulfilled it ends up dominating your mental landscape. (Try locking yourself in a room without seeing anybody for a week if you don’t believe me). And when a need goes unfulfilled it ends up leeching the color and enjoyment out of everything else.

Yes, I did cover this at length in why most digital nomads fail. Don’t worry. I’m not going to get into that side of it again. Instead, today I’d like to discuss the other side of the coin. If we have an evolved need to belong what advantage does our community give us? To paraphrase Mont Python, what has the community ever done for us? And why if it is so meaningful, do so many of us fail to recognize it for being as important as it is?
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How to Find a Great Apartment When You’re on the Road

Now I know how an ant under a magnifying loop feels. I look at the others. Their faces bathed in sweat that reflects harsh light of the mid-day Caribbean sun. None of us had expected it to be this hot. “I need a break,” Somebody – maybe it was me – mutters. Nobody disagrees. Finding a place to stay can be hard work sometimes.

Yeah, sure, you can do a lot of it from the comfort of your couch – but often you should still hit the pavement, ask around and shake hands. The reason is pretty straightforward. When a place is easier to find, that means more people are going to find it. And as economics 101 taught us when demand goes up so do prices.

So we’re out here on the Colombian coast looking for a place where to stay. It’s not fun, exactly, but it sure beats working from a crappy hotel room and it’s vital to be productive as a digital nomad. And since we’re looking for a place to rent for several months, it’s well worth it. Even five bucks less per day adds up. What’s more, by taking to the pavement we’re getting a good feeling for the town and where we want to stay.

In fact, we’ve gotten quite experienced at this whole deal over the years we’ve been out here. And, since many people seem to struggle in this regard, I thought that while we take a break from the hammering sun, I’d run some tips by you. (Note, this article was written after apartment hunting in Santa Marta, Colombia and so is extra applicable to that area).
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6 Myths about Digital Nomads You Need To Let Go

It’s quite incredible what some people believe about the digital nomad life. Whenever I scan the many questions of the wanabes I’m left dumbfounded. Do you think digital nomads live in paradise? Are we modern-day gods to you?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but it isn’t anything like that.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy what I do. I’ve met tons of awesome people, visited lots of countries (I’ve long since lost counts) and done some awesome things. For example, a few weeks ago in Nicaragua, we climbed a volcano and swam in a crater lake, near Granada. Last night we were in a hostel located beautiful old mansion in Costa Rica called Tripon 2. There the owner plied us with free rum as we discussed how we could work together.
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Why Most Digital Nomads Fail (And How To Avoid It)

Do you know why most digital nomads fail? Most people pick something like, ‘they can’t get their careers off the ground’, ‘they chose the wrong enterprise’, or ‘they can’t hack it as freelancers‘. Others will say it’s because they run out of money, they didn’t budget well, or they got scammed. And yes, these can all be the straws that break the aspiring nomad’s back. The thing is, often these are only symptoms of a much bigger underlying problem.

What am I on about? I’m talking about what I like to call the digital nomad disconnect.

Most travelers eventually feel the need to go home because they’re not socially integrated. The digital nomad’s existence of drifting from place to place might sound appealing, but it has some serious problems. In time, these lead many to pull the plug. So this is very much another thing you need to know about the digital nomad life.

There are two main reasons why this lack of belongingness affects us so. I’ll cover each in turn.
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Freelance Abroad from Granada, Nicaragua

As you might have noticed, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. The last one I wrote was all the way back in November, when we in Corioco in Bolivia. Why haven’t I written one since then? It’s quite simple, really. There just weren’t any places that I felt were worth talking about! Every place we visited lacked something essential for the digital nomad life. Some weren’t inspiring. Others were too basic. And so on.

The first place where all the pieces were in place was here in Granada, Nicaragua. If you’re thinking about settling down anywhere in Nicaragua to work for a while, then go here. On the boards, people will try to get you to go to San Juan del Sur. I wouldn’t listen to them.
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The Digital Nomad Life — A Tale of Inconvenience, Hot Love, and Great Joy.

Our second fantastic guest poster is Etienne Koch. In his post, he paints us an explicit picture of his journey as a digital nomad so far. He’ll die happy once he’s saved the world from global warming, toured Europe with his guitar, and held a handstand for ten seconds. He likes to wear non-matching high-socks, oh, and is single.

Smoking hot Latina women fan me with palm fronds as perspiration drips off their bare breasts in slow motion. I glance up from my laptop at the crashing waves for a moment’s inspiration. Sensing the opportunity, one of the ladies cheekily slips a hand under my floral shirt. I politely remove it—“un momento por favor”—I’m only halfway through my work day. In five minutes I’ll be done and then I’m free to do—whatever.

A loud crash tears my dreams apart. Jeff, the drunk Canadian guy that was sleeping on the top bunk has smacked head-first onto the hard hostel floor. Contorted and face-down, he looks very—dead. (Oh my god!) I jump out of bed and try to shake him alive. He answers with a gentle snore. How the hell did he sleep through that?

Canadians!
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How to Learn the Skills You Need to Be a Digital Nomad

What holds most people back from being a digital nomad isn’t the ‘nomad’ part (though there are plenty of myths about that). It’s the part where they aren’t sure how they’re going to be able to make their money online so they can take to the open road. If they could just learn that, then they’d be set. After all, once you’ve got income you’ve got the space and the time to learn the skills you need – including how to be a nomad.

For that reason, in this article, I’m going to look at the digital side of things. More precisely, I’m going to look at ways that you can learn the digital skills that you need.
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