I have been practising digital nomad lifestyle for over 3 years in Prague, the Czech Republic, partly out of necessity as a newly established entrepreneur, and partly to experiment with my creative process to become a better writer and entrepreneur. Here’s what I learnt.
What is a Digital Nomad
First off, let me draw a picture of who digital nomad is – and isn’t. The stereotypical picture shows mostly a freelance contractor in IT or creative field who uses modern technology to work from anywhere in the world. Such person is usually seated in a cool co-working place somewhere in Bali, Thailand or Mexico, coconut in hand and a selfie stick in another. Nothing wrong with that. But there’s so much more to this amazing phenomenon of location independent lifestyle than an image of a project-based copywriter. There are both traditional and online-based entrepreneurs travelling nowadays, CEOs, accountants, yoga teachers, full-time employers and employees working remotely alongside. A person with true digital nomad mindset is usually a hustler refusing to settle for less than freedom of their creative process. And such mindset can be developed and practised truly anywhere in the world – even in your own town.
I should know! Three years ago, I slammed traditional employment’s door determined to seek ways to become a writer I knew deep down I was. Without really realizing it at that point, I was adopting a digital nomad mindset, which turned up to be the best, most fun and fastest tool to close the gap between where I was to where I am today – a creative force behind #1 sales magazine in my country, a shareholder in a young ambitious brand marketing company and hopefully a YouTube talk show host this fall. My city – Prague, recently placed among TOP 10 digital nomad locations – has been a huge mentor along the way. Here is what you could do in your own city to start living as a Digital Nomad as soon as possible:
1. Be willing to move. A lot!
Nothing new really comes out as long as the old is in your way, so de-cluttering your life should be the ultimate step one in any life change. Especially, if you’re trying to figure out whether you are cut out for this digital nomad madness to begin with. Ask yourself what are you able to compromise – and then go a little bit further than that!
Looking at my bank account, this was a no brainer for me. I knew if I was going to move to Prague and live off a startup salary, I needed to cut out on living expenses. So I said yes to a co-living with two random guys in a tiny two-bedroom studio. One of us was more financially stable, so he took the bigger room, while I and another startup enthusiast turned shifts in the other room and on the kitchen couch. As crazy as it was then, so many ideas were born from midnight conversations, Couchsurfing parties and co-living, basically. When my roomie moved back to his hometown (his startup didn’t last long) and my rent increased, I reached out to yet another young entrepreneur and shared a room and a double mattress with her and her dog. A really hip, artistic Prague neighbourhood I moved to, as well as challenging living conditions, made me get out of my comfort zone, work hard during the day and write my way out of hot summer nights.
Half a year later, I was lucky to land an Airbnb studio all for myself. Super thankful for the piece of mind and quiet, I worked and created even harder until I found myself in my recent location, a spacious room in a villa that my friend rented me for a year. I am actually about to rent a long-term studio now, but I wouldn’t be this comfortable working in the discomfort hasn’t it been for the tour de flats I’ve experienced! And for your info, my golden rule was (and still is!) that ALL my necessary belongings should fit into not more than three suitcases.
2. Be a tourist (not the lame one, though!)
One of the biggest perks of being a digital nomad is the very nature of travelling. Being on this constant quest of discovering a new country, new city, new culture, new cuisine, mentality, sports, rituals, music or language for that matter opens your mind to an extent when you perceive yourself as invincible – hands up all of you who know what I’m talking about! Hasn’t some of your best, boldest, absolute badass work been born in such state? Well, guess what! Your city can provide a similar experience.
In Prague, I am lucky enough to have a bit of everything. Historic heart, cool hipster areas, the cutest cafés, nature, riverside, vivid markets, people sitting in the parks drinking beers and ciders. It’s cosmopolitan, yet homely.
I love to come to Metronome lookout point and listen to some deep house music, run away from tourists in the Prague Castle area to the most tranquil Bali-like café Food of Love, or sit with my book in one of the newest urban café concepts such as Kasarna Karlín or Kavárna co hledá jméno. Or how does a vegan city tour or urban graffiti walk sound? Whenever I really need to dig deep, I walk around the city looking at signs on historic buildings – most of them have names and fates of citizens affected by the WWII or communist riot written all over them.
3. Coffee office your way throughout the city
Part of the beauty of travelling, as stated above, is to break from the old ways and create new fun patterns. What I did recently when in a bit of a rut, was that I rented an Airbnb 15 minutes from my current place – and boy was that the best change of perspective I could get at that time. I asked my colleagues to be patient with me answering their e-mails and messages with a 24hour delay (I can usually get sucked in the daily business so easily), sat on a patio one morning and didn’t move till dusk. The change of both scenery and the way I usually work (all notifications on, anyone?) resulted in me getting done with things I couldn’t move with for months!
Creating new weekly habits works, too. My city tends to be too vibrant sometimes – I swear every newly opened café you pass tempts you to come sit, forget about the hustle, sip a flat white and sort of dissolve in the moment. I usually spend one morning a week in a café, not more – it allows me to have some quality hours for deep work and soak up the atmosphere, while not getting too high on this location independent lifestyle that I just daydream for hours and don’t actually DO THE WORK (anyone else guilty?).
4. Find your tribe (or at least one person)
Having said all this, despite sounding like a lot of fun, adopting a location independent mindset can really get quite challenging and lonely. I was lucky enough to connect with a lot of young ambitious people via the work I do – as a journalist, you get to interview aspiring stars in various fields, many of which will inspire you to keep going towards whatever you believe is true to you.
As most of my closest friends with similar worldview have actually been travelling the world or living in London, Berlin, Poland, Bali or Africa, I was missing a day-to-day partner in crime. Whenever I felt like there wasn’t anyone around, I hung around spots such as Surf office Prague, K10 Coworking, STRV (the only Czech start-up that has made it in Silicon Valley so far). Couchsurfing could work too, although look for travelling entrepreneurs, not students. And lastly, connect with like-minded people on Instagram – since they travel a lot, they might be going to your city, soon.
Your city as Digital Nomad city
I hope this opened up your eyes of how you can start working and living as a Digital Nomad even without moving straight away. And if you do want to move, consider Prague as a starting point. At least you already have one Digital Nomad friend you can contact! I am wondering: what is your favourite city to live and work? Let me know and also, please get in touch if you have questions about Prague!