Tim is a freelance developper and web strategist. He is also producing visual media part time.
After 2 years of active travel through the world in search of an Ideal place to live and work, he decided to settle down in the Turks and Caïcos islands most of the time. He has international clients and still travel for meetings and spends occasional time in his home country and his favorite spots like remote parts of the US.
1. How did you decide to start a location independent life?
I’ve always been an avid traveller. Two years ago, I wasn’t able anymore to stand the way things were going, economically and culturally in my own country, and was also scared by the idea that my life could become a routine, slowly loosing energy until nothing interesting happen anymore. I had to make a move.
Going into that kind of project when you are in your 40’s is a real challenge, because you have to get out of your confort zone and give up what takes you years to set up. I never endured adverse energy when I spoke about my desire to hit the road, everyone from the family to the clients, said ‘As long as you have internet you can work, so why not going for it, if I could I would. Fortunately I always took care of being able to move quickly and freely if I need to. My wife is an art Director and graphic designer, she almost never see her clients in person and can follow me either.
I dropped my desktop with it’s huge screens, my companies, bought a laptop and gave a try for a few months, fine tuning this new way of working, and above all, checking if my clients would not run away, an if I could maintain the cash flow ! I had also in mind to find a place that meet the requirement to settle a new residence for the future.
2. How do you earn a Digital Nomad?
I wear several hats, I’m a developer and adviser for websites, the biggest of them are automotive related, but I have every kind of clients. I’m also about to launch a startup, and I have a team working on it, I’m in touch with it on Slack everyday.
Most of my work is custom PHP / JS development. I’m a skilled photographer, as I owned a studio and worked for fashion and interior design for a while, I still like to produce pictures sometimes. I also do videos, for advertising or web presentations when I get a contract. Web development was just a way to earn money at the beginning twenty years ago, as I felt more artistic than technical, but I’ve been caught quickly.
Contrary to many digital nomads, I don’t earn anything from travelling by itself. I’m just in quest of absolute freedom, I want to enjoy the best of all worlds, and my job is perfect for that.
3. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced living a nomadic lifestyle?
Travelling costs are expensive. I found this is not a cheap lifestyle when you want some comfort, or affectionate particular destinations.
As I’m staying quite a long time where I go, the visas can be a problem too. But the main challenge for me is psychological. Moving all the time is traumatic, you need to appropriate your environment each time you move, to create new habits to feel like at home, and to stay productive. When you quit a cosy clean home in your country, where you know how the administration works, where you have friends, favorites places, and you land in a place below your standards that you now you will stay in for a while, with no friends yet, and a new world to build, that can be hard, sometimes.
About the work, there are no challenges today, definitely, except some timezones can be a bit tricky to work with.
4. Some tips for rest of the community on succeeding as a Digital Nomad.
Keep a solid base where you can go back when you need, a place of yours filled with your own stuff. Nomadic lifestyle is rewarding but strenuous. Sometimes you have to recover if you want it to last long.
Keep a professional image if you want to work on multi-million dollars projects, no major client would have confidence in an evanescent perpetual traveller.Keep an eye on your capital, even if being a perpetual traveller makes you happy, and is good for personal development, it’s better when it makes money rather than costs you.
Instagram posting in one thing, but my life is not about self image, but pursuit of happiness.
5. How do you find places in a new city?
Usually I look on AirBnB, VRBO, for my rental, now I have my own networks. I’m not a coworking kind of person, as I work with my wife, I never feel alone. Also, as we are long term travelers, we like to stay at home for working.
But usually we look for a café with a view, an outdoor patio and a good internet speed. Then we share our time between home and these places, when we are in the mood of people watching. My favorite place to work is a hammock between two palm trees in front of a blue lagoon.