Perfecting the digital nomad lifestyle: Staying Still


‘For $1000USD a month you wont be able to get a good apartment in Quito’ said the passenger next to me on the plane. ‘For that kind of money you will actually get the best apartment in Quito in the best area with a maid and a cute girl that comes to cook you breakfast every Sunday – But of course she won’t be included in the rental agreement it will just happen naturally’ he quipped. I chuckled as we headed off the plane at 2:00am to get our luggage.

I was thinking how cheap everything was in South America compared to Canada and the USA, but when I woke up the next day I realized just how expensive and inhospitable travelling as a digital nomad could be – that is – unless you knew exactly what you were doing.

This all came rushing back to me as I woke-up in an unfamiliar apartment, not knowing where anything was, or how to get into any kind of routine. I had no food, brown dirty water coming out of all of the taps, no internet, and no idea where to get any of these things. Luckily I ended up buying a sim card in the airport, so I called the Airbnb owner and they were able to fix all of the problems.

However, it really made me think about the art of working while travelling and how it could be done more effectively. There seems to be a common theme that I have noticed:

The longer you stay in one place, the more free time you have, the more money you can save, and the more work you will be able to accomplish. 

Ive noticed this again and again throughout all of the places I have travelled. Sometimes it can take an entire day to do laundry because you have to find a laundromat, convert the proper currency, deal with power-outages and odd hours of laundromats.

This is really the key to being a digital nomad – getting a good place to stay for as long a time as possible. Traveling and living in different locations is expensive and time consuming, whereas staying in just one place for the right amount of time can give you a much better experience. You get to know the best places to eat/drink/visit, you can develop long term relationships, you can join sports teams and other groups and be a part of many communities. The longer you stay the more money you will save, the more time you will have, and the more possibilities will come to you.

For example:

  1. It takes 5-7 days to secure an apartment (unless your using airbnb or some other site you can prebook). This means you need to stay for more then one month to get meaningful work done – or simple pay a premium to prebook a really nice place on a site like Airbnb.
  2. It is not possible to work out of most hostels – you will be spending most of your time figuring out how to get food, water, internet etc. It will leave you almost no time to get any work done.
  3. You can book hotels but once again these are more expensive and you will be paying a premium for them.

Staying in one place will definitely give you more opportunities to make money, but travelling to other countries to work makes life a lot more richer and interesting. I have decided for myself that the ideal situation would be buy an apartment that I could call home, and work out of here whenever I wanted – But still travel and work out of other locations to make things more interesting.