We have heard the term 'Digital Nomad' bandied around for a long time now, it sounds exciting, carefree and millenial! But who actually has this lifestyle and what are the mechanics of it? I caught up with my friend Kirsti, the most nomadic of the digital nomads i know. I wanted to get a snapshot of her life (including her Goodordering bag) and chat to her about the ups and downs of being a digital nomad.
Kirsti works as a digital user experience designer having worked with start-ups (where we first met in 2002) all the way through to big corporate banks and consumer brands. She has had full time jobs in the past but her true passion is the mountains, climbing and exploring the great outdoors. For the last few years she has split her time almost 50:50 between city life in London and outdoor life either in Chamonix or travelling around Europe in ‘Bimbo-bil’ (the make of her van is Bimobil) her circa 1980s Campervan truck which happen to co-ordinate rather well with the two new Goodordering monochrome colours :)
I have always been in awe of Kirsti’s ability to follow through on this unusual lifestyle over several years - which has at times, involved spending up to 10 months of the year away from “home”. Which brings me to the concept of ‘what even is home?’. Kirsti has described her campervan as more home than her flat in London, shes had had it for longer and probably has more fond memories attached to it than her flat which she sub-lets when she is away.
Working remotely does take some getting used to - this includes for Kirsti striking that perfect balance of keeping up with news at head office enough to stay in the loop, but not too much that would make her seem overly demanding. At times being a digital nomad has meant working 24/7 for 6 months and then having 6 months off, and at other times it has been working 2 days per week. One thing for sure is that Kirsti has definitely got the hang of living cheaply - one of the keys to her flexible lifestyle.
Her current gig is for a Norwegian company and is a full time position 100% remote. So, tomorrow Kirsti is driving to Chamonix, parking up and working from there. Jealous at all? I helped her prepare a few things and managed to capture some moments of her in her van.
I asked her how this nomadic lifestyle has influenced her life when she is in London, and its pretty clear from looking around her flat, that her outdoor life is very much present in her city pad - books about mountaineering, multiple bicycles and random bits of rope and climbing paraphernalia scattered around.
“When i’m in the mountains, i’m around people who can make a little bit of money go a very long way, so i’m always searching for bargins and these days can’t bring myself to buying anything new, its second hand or reclaimed all the way.”
“I”m really comfortable and happy not having much around me but the bare essentials.”
Will there be a time when Kirsti stays put and doesn’t go off for months at a time? Well who knows. Most digital nomads eventually go home and stay somewhere more permanent, but exploring the world whilst you have your health and the motivation definitely seems like the right thing to do, especially without non-flexible commitments such as kids (i know that well).
Pros of being a digital nomad
"The positives are obviously endless - even the solutions to some of the problems below in the 'cons' list are really empowering and identity building." Kirsti
- You can work from wherever you want
- Each day can include exercise and fresh air as well as fulfilling work
- There is always something to look forward to that can be motivating to get through tough times with work
- You can explore the world and experience new and different things that you would not have been able to if you are stuck in one spot
Cons of being a digital nomad (first 5 according to Kirsti)
1. You never know when you'll get your next long hot shower. You just have to save water.
2. You have to get comfortable with what seems like a lot of uncertainty.
3. It's hard to fix plans for the future - as you never know where work or travels take you next week, let alone next month.
4. It is hard to settle down to daily grind of a regular office hours when client work requires that.
5. I miss socialising with my inspiring and motivated colleagues while working.
Here are some other general drawbacks to being a digital nomad:
-It can be a bit lonely sometimes, and you can get homesick
- You need to be adaptable and not too precious about working conditions as logistics can sometimes be difficult for example finding productive places to work that are set up with wifi, coffee etc.
- It can be difficult to get a mortgage, but not if you are like Kirsti and time it well and remortgage during a longer term or permanent contract
- Your income can fluctuate, you need to be financially buoyant enough to be able to ride out tough times or be able to live very cheaply if need be.
Steps in becoming a digital nomad
- You can even start being a digital nomad in your own city, change up where you work, explore different areas and cafes of your city, its more a mental attitude than physical
- Find the right kind of job and develop the right kinds of skills to be able to earn a living remotely, there are many blog posts on this topics such as this one https://www.webworktravel.com/become-digital-nomad/
Whats in Kirsti’s bag?
Some of the of the objects that Kirsty takes around with her in her bag include - a water bottle and thermos for hiking and picnics. Her knitting or crochet - the perfect type of easily transportable craft project perfect for travelling, especially when travelling alone. Sketch book, laptop and camera - all of which easily and safely into her Goodordering yellow monochrome roll top backpack which co-ordinates perfectly with her 1980’s leisurewear.
I love Kirsti's eclectic and original taste which stems from her Finnish, London background mixed with her time travelling the world. Deep rich colours are set alongside pop brights bringing so much life and warmth to her flat. I would describe her flat as "global utility" and love the stark contrasts in texture and colour mixed with a very practical and functional approach. This is probably what makes her so good at her job! She is definitely an 80s baby and loves clashing colours which is why she was the perfect candidate for this blog post.
You too could be a digital nomad! With a bit of planning a lots of determination like Kirsti, you can live your best life! Thanks Kirsti for taking around your flat, Bimbo-bil and making me a very nice cup of tea 😘.