In my view, the most overused phrase of 2020. It’s true, but still overused.
Either way, I love London. When I first moved to London in 2010 someone told me that if you’re bored in London it’s completely your fault. Even if you’re broke. There are countless things to do that don’t cost anything. Of course, if you’re not broke there are even more things to do.
It truly is a global hub. A multi cultural melting pot.
It’s also been my home for a decade now. I have a flat here. Most of my friends are here, my job was here and I don’t regret my time here at all.
But it’s time to go.
In my previous post I talked about the tale of the crocodile. An inflection point for me where I didn’t want to just go through the motions in London. I wasn’t wasting time, I was still having a lot of fun but I was worried about falling into the trap of ‘just existing’. It genuinely worked me. I didn’t want the years to pass and regret the safe life I had lived.
Remote work opportunity
To provide a little context, I have a marketing agency in London so I’ve always been tied to London because of the office location. In 2019 I’d tested out working remotely for a week in Barcelona and it was the most productive I’d been for quite some time. It was also the most free I’d felt in a long time. I had planned on working remotely for at least 2 weeks every quarter.
But funnily enough, you slide back into your old routine. And time flies.
In 2019 I worked a grand total of one week abroad. One week out of a planned eight.
2020 rolls around and the whole world seemingly finds themselves working remotely. I know that’s not strictly true, but it got me thinking. If everyone is working remotely, and companies are still performing, surely this is going to be something that will take hold. Some employees will like this set up and start to demand that a portion of flexible working be included as part of their employment contract. It’s far from an original thought – there were (and still are) lots of people and media talking about the ‘future of work’.
I wanted to capitalise on this. I accepted the fact that my motivation to lead my company out of this period was not as high as it could have been. The team, my shareholders and myself would be better off if someone more motivated was in charge. It would also rid me of the single anchor holding me to London.
This was in my plan in a few years when my agency was hopefully bigger and more stable…Covid-19 just accelerated it. Remote consultancy work would likely be easier – or at least the remote part wouldn’t put off potential employers.
It was certainly a more risky time to leave, but it was also the best opportunity I would have for a number of years. Push the button, just go.
The thin veneer of digital nomads.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about the digital nomads that you meet, and I’ve met countless. My holidays tend to revolve around surfing and surf destinations are seemingly irresistible magnets for digital nomads.
On one hand there is the obvious jealously. Here are people that get to earn money whilst travelling, enjoying sunset beers on a beach, on a Tuesday. They get to live in shorts and t-shirts. They get to live in places that you only get to travel to for maybe 2 weeks a year (and pay a premium to do so).
On the other hand, there was the more pragmatic side of life. What job security do they have? How much do they actually work/earn? Most of them just seem to be drinking all the time. Do they have a mortgage, savings or a pension? What happens when they return to their home country? Will they be able to get a decent job? Previously, all of these factors had prevented me from seeing it as a viable route. There appeared to be a significant underlying risk profile that was veneered over by pictures of parties, babes and sundowners.
I’m glad that I did my time in the city. I have a skillset and a profile that I like to think is attractive to certain companies. As such, becoming a digital nomad should (in theory) be less risky than if I had done it at 25. I won’t labour this point because I intend on writing an article/making a video that dives into this in more detail.
The point is that I didn’t look upon digital nomads with pure jealousy. There was a considerable amount of trepidation as well. However, Covid-19 had flung that door wide open. The risk was lowered and I couldn’t resist.
Quit your job, travel forever. Kind of.
That’s what people see on Instagram. That’s what they envy.
People do that, but they are probably Instagram influencers. I’m not one of them, nor do I want to be.
Cody Ko puts it pretty well:
Instead, I simply want to be able to work a fairly normal job, just not in an office and not in London. Surfing in the morning would be preferable.
How long will it last? The plan is a handful of years at least. Moving every 2 weeks doesn’t appeal, so ‘slow travel’ is the route forward (at least for now). Getting to put some roots down in places offers a completely different experience than your more typical holiday one.
So to summarise, the craziness of 2020 accelerated me leaving my business, packing up and heading to sunnier climes. The intention is to use my experience to work as a consultant and still build for the future, instead of just going on what would essentially be an extended time travelling.
I’ll be documenting the places I go on this blog and my Youtube channel which I hope will be useful for anyone looking to either travel to the places I am, or even start working remotely themselves. I genuinely don’t think there’s been a better time to start planning this type of working arrangement.