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.

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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Do You Have The Right Personality To Be A Digital Nomad?

It’s terrifying to take the step from a sedentary existence into a digital nomad life. Even if you have enough money saved up, it’s a leap into the unknown. After several years out here, I’d kind of forgotten that. But the more I talk with those who want to take up the life, the more I’m reminded of how I too used to wake up in a cold sweat at night. I spent days worrying at the question if heading out or staying in was the bigger mistake.

Just like these people I was talking to, I’d wished I had a bit more certainty. I wondered if I knew enough about the travelancer life. I questioned if I had the right personality to be a digital nomad.

I dealt with the first question last week. So this week I’ll deal with the second one. And if you’re going to ask any questions about personality, well then you have to turn to psychology.

So, for a second time in a month, I’ve put on my psychologist’s hat. After a bit of research, I realized there’s a lot out there – far too much to cover in one article (here are two more about our need to belong and about mental mistakes).
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How to Find Happiness on the Road (and in ‘Normal’ Life)

We travel because it makes us happy. From the cubicle, the vagabond existence seems idyllic. It is full of swaying palm trees, sandy beaches, and so many smiling people you’d think it’s a cult. The thing is unless you join a cult you can’t be happy all the time – not even then, actually.

Every existence, even the one on the road, has its shades of blue.

For example, you might feel lonely. You might tire of the hedonism and want more engagement and meaning. Or you might have been going for so long that you forget why travel is good for you and start seeing ‘normal’ life through rose-tinted glasses.

It happened to me two weeks ago. A wave of despondency hit me. I spent days questioning the vagabond existence. I shut myself away, went soul searching and wrestled with my demons.

It’s not like it is the first time. I knew it would pass. It always does. This time, though, rather than just battening down the hatches and waiting it out, I decided to do something about it. I dusted off my psychologist’s cap and took a positive psychology refresher.
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How to Pack Effectively for the Digital Nomad Life

For the last four years, I’ve had two bags and about 30 kg (65 pounds) to my name. This includes my clothes, my toiletries and my entire freelance ‘office’. I could take more, but then I’d have to carry it. And, after an 18-hour bus journey where they once again dumped you miles outside of town, the last thing you want is more weight. So I’ve learned to pack effectively – taking what I need and leaving the rest behind.

The truth is simple. On the road lots of things you think you’ll need you won’t. While other things – things you haven’t considered – turn out to be essential to the travelancer life.

I learned this through trial and error. I’ve seen a lot of puzzled faces. Sometimes it was because I was offering people in some far-flung place my perfectly good hand-me-downs. At other times, because I was looking for something they didn’t even know existed until I asked for it.
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Echoes of Laughter: Reflecting on a Vagabond Existence

Is the house on fire? Are we at war? Is there an earthquake? Quick, what do I do first, grab my work laptop or wake my girlfriend? As I chide myself for thinking that (what can I say, protecting one’s words is a writer’s knee-jerk reaction) the nails-on-chalkboard sound comes again.

It shreds the last cobwebs of sleep. With a groan, I slump back onto my pillow.

It’s just the Colombians returning. You’ll always know when that happens. The older sister will always unfailingly remind you how funny she thinks everything is. She greets even the most mundane pronouncement with pearls of laughter.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great attitude during the day. It is a great deal harder to appreciate at 3 o’clock, though, when behind closed eyelids you were having tea with the Mad Hatter.
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6 Fantastic Reasons Why Travel Is Good For You

You don’t have to tell me how hard it is to take the plunge and throw yourself out there. I know all about that! There are so many reasons not to. These include your job, your family, your security, not knowing what to take, or what is out there and the fear, of course. For those reasons and others, millions don’t pursue their dream of seeing the world. Heck, they almost kept me from getting back out there on many occasions.

That’s a shame, because – as you no doubt know by now – I’m an advocate of the open road and what it can do for us. I believe travel is good for you, and I don’t just mean that for us as individuals, either.

I’m convinced that travel is a natural antidote to the surge in nationalism we’re seeing today.

(For those hit by the latest demonstration, check out my article about how to get out of the US of A)

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