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Leading the nomad life isn’t for everyone. You move every couple of months, income is unsteady, you have to deal with different countries and cultures. While that may sound like a nightmare to some, others are embracing the nomadic lifestyle. It’s hard to estimate just how many digital nomads are out there, but technology, cheap flights, and housing options like Airbnb (if you haven’t tried Airbnb yet, click the link to get $40 credit) are making it easier for people to work remotely.
Maya Maceka is one person who decided to give up her desk job for a permanent life on the road. She’s Canadian, and was working at a travel agency near Toronto when she realized something was missing, that she wasn’t getting as much out of life as she wanted.
“One day, I came up with this crazy idea that I could travel full-time and work from my laptop if I figured out how to make money online,” she wrote in an email from Europe. “So, I made an account on Fiverr and began offering freelance writing services. The day I made my first dollar online, I quit my job. On my way home from work, I booked a one way flight to Serbia. Two weeks later, I was sitting in an apartment in Belgrade, coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. I guess you could say that I kind of jumped right into it!”
She’s been living a nomadic life every since…for the past two years.
What its like living the nomad life
Maya moves from here to there every one-to-three months, mostly throughout Europe. She uses the “sublet” tab on Airbnb, (if you haven’t tried Airbnb yet, click the link to get $40 credit) which lets her check out long-term rentals. Then, she narrows it down to 5 or 10 apartments and books the one with the best value.
She said while its fun to have the freedom and flexibility of a nomadic lifestyle, it has its own set of challenges, too.
“My biggest challenge is that I have trouble finding a work-life balance. At a traditional job, you finish your work and then you go home to live your life. But as a digital nomad, you’re kind of in this grey area. You don’t have a shift to finish or a boss to answer to, which is great, but it’s easy to lose track of time. I’m totally guilty of working 16-hour days,” she said.As a digital nomad, you’re kind of in this grey area. You don’t have a shift to finish or a boss to answer to.Click To Tweet
Maya still writes for a living, penning blog posts, articles and press releases. She also runs her own blog site, mayamaceka.com, which she’s starting to monetize. She thinks it takes a lot of drive to work remotely and be your own boss.
“Digital nomads require very specific personality traits. Of course, they need to be driven and results-oriented. After all, they often work alone and under no supervision! But, they also need to be adaptable and kind of spontaneous. They often deal with unexpected situations and have to feel comfortable living in new places,” she said.
Getting social while always on the move
Moving around all the time makes it tough to find a friend base and stick with it. Maya has come up with a variety of techniques to help her make connections while living a nomad life.
“Co-working spaces, gyms, and bars are great places to meet new friends,” she said. “The hardest part is getting past the social anxiety of introducing yourself to new people and generally just putting yourself out there. So, if you can’t bear the thought of walking up to a stranger, then stick to social media! I often post in local subreddits asking if anyone wants to meet up. I’ve met some really great friends online!”
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And when it comes to dating?
“Dating as a digital nomad can be tricky. When I first started working online and living abroad, I didn’t even think it was a possibility. But, then I met someone who also works online! And now, my boyfriend and I can do what we love most, exploring new places, together. And to be honest, it makes the lifestyle so much better when you get to experience it with someone else,” she said.
The ups and downs of leading a nomadic lifestyle
Maya hasn’t lived outside her parents’ house when she first moved aboard, and it was a lot to get used to. She told me there have been plenty of times when she’s wanted to throw in the towel and quit for good.
“Like, that time I found cockroaches at my apartment in Ukraine. Or, the time I fell down the stairs and hurt my back in Prague – after one too many beers,” she said. “Anytime I start feeling like I want to go home, I tell myself to just give it a week. And if in a week, I still want to go home, then I give myself permission to do it. But most of my problems seem to sort themselves out in a week anyway!”
She’s loved being able to explore the world, and said there is one place that holds a special place in her heart.
“My all-time favorite place that I’ve lived so far is Romania,” she said. “It such an unspoiled and off-the-beaten-track destination, that it feels like you’re discovering it for the first time. I spent three months living in Brasov, Romania and it was one of the best times of my life. The city is really beautiful and has great food. But, it’s also located in the middle of the Transylvanian woods – which made for great hiking and wildlife-spotting. I ran into brown bears twice!”
What to do about health insurance?
While some people choose to get travel insurance, Maya said she’s just taken the risk for paying out-of-pocket. Many countries aren’t too expensive when it comes to healthcare, and since she’s Canadian, Maya has great health care options back home.
Some digital nomads take out insurance with World Nomads, which you can check out below if interested!
Maya said a lot of people think being a digital nomad means margaritas, sunsets and a laptop, but that’s not often the case.
“Being a digital nomad does not mean that your entire life is a vacation. It means that you’re working remotely. Sometimes, you’re going to spend your entire day on the computer or you’re going to feel homesick. It’s an alternative lifestyle and it’s definitely not for everyone!” she said.Being a digital nomad does not mean that your entire life is a vacationClick To Tweet
She has one thought for people thinking about trying the nomad life.
“Have an open mind, be prepared for some things to go wrong and just take it slowly at first. Your first adventure as a digital nomad doesn’t have to be a 3-week backpacking trip across Southeast Asia! Pick one city and stay there for a month. And most importantly, don’t force it on yourself. There’s no shame in admitting that the lifestyle isn’t for you. Do what makes you happy!”
No shame in that at all.
You can keep track of Maya and her adventures on her Instagram page: Instagram.com/explorewithmaya
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