Leven als een wereldburger

Life as a Cosmopolitan: 11 years as a Digital Nomad

‘Life as a Cosmopolitan’ is a guest blog section in which Digital Nomads or expats answer a few questions about their adventures abroad. Get inspired by their stories and get ready to start your own adventure!

In this post we would like to introduce you to Sanne, an inspiring lady who travels the world for 11 years already! That’s even way before the term ‘Digital Nomad’ became a big hype.

Sanne writes for her travel blog ‘Spend Life Traveling‘. On her website you will find tons of information about different countries, travel tips and tips about how to become a digital nomad. Follow her adventures on Instagram or Facebook.

Who are you?

Hi, my name is Sanne. Born and raised in The Netherlands, but at the age of 17 I decided there was more to see in this world. So, I moved to Spain. Since then I have lived in over 10 different countries and traveled to many more.

I’ve been a digital nomad for more than 11 years now… Time flies when you are having fun! But, after 9 years of living out of a suitcase it was about time to have a home base. Although I still travel a lot, at the moment I call Valencia (Spain) home.

Sanne in Japan

How did you become a Digital Nomad?

To be honest I became a digital nomad before I had even heard of the term. After living in Spain for four years I needed a change and moved to the Caribbean for a few months. But I wasn’t willing to give up my company (A to Z Marketing, a marketing & web design company), which I had started a couple of years before. So, I left Spain and persuaded most of my clients to stay with me and work with me online.

It wasn’t easy though. Working remotely and having clients on the other side of the world, in different time zones, wasn’t very common back then. For a long time I took on local jobs or did volunteer work that offered free room & board to supplement the income from my small online business.

Over time not only  my business grew, but so did the digital nomad communities. I am so thankful for these communities! Being the only one with this “crazy” location independent lifestyle really wasn’t that much fun. Now that there are digital nomad communities all over the world I find it a lot easier to move to new places, to find like-minded people and even to find clients because of the networking opportunities these communities provide.

Which countries have you visited while being a Digital Nomad and how much time do you spend in one place?

I have visited a lot of countries in the past 11 years of being a digital nomad… Some of the main ones are the Maldives, the USA (California), Colombia (Medellin), the Caribbean (St Maarten and Aruba) and now Valencia in Spain.

When I started my digital nomad life I generally spent two or three months in most of the places I called “home” and for 9 years I didn’t spend more than 9 months living in the same country!

But at some point living out of a suitcase and saying goodbye to my home and all my new found friends every few months got a bit exhausting. I tried settling down in the Netherlands – I even bought an apartment! – but that didn’t work. So, I rented out that apartment and eventually ended up in Valencia, where I found a nice digital nomad community. I rented an apartment with a friend who travels even more than I do and now spend about half of the year here, and half of the year traveling and working from different places all over the world.

Swimming with wild dophins in The British Virgin Islands

What kind of work do you do to support your Digital Nomad lifestyle?

For 13 years I ran a web design and marketing company, which I did as a digital nomad for 11 years. But recently my travel blog Spend Life Traveling, which I started as a hobby, became big enough to pay the bills. So right now it’s the blog that supports my digital nomad lifestyle.

What does the Digital Nomad community look like in the country/city where you are? Is there a community or not at all?

I really like the digital nomad community in Valencia and it’s one of the main reasons why I made this city my home base. It’s a nice mix of people. You have your typical digital nomad who moves every two or three months, but also people who are still working on becoming fully nomadic and people who work remotely but choose to spend most of the year in Valencia.

I feel that many digital nomads here are slightly less nomadic than in popular places such as Chiang Mai and Ubud. Many of my digital nomad friends in Valencia have made the city their home base, for the foreseeable future at least.

Age wise it’s a good mix as well. The only thing I would like to see more of is digital nomads with a real entrepreneurial spirit. A majority of the nomads here either work remotely on a fulltime contract or are freelancers. I miss that group of nomads that’s working on innovative startup ideas, a new app, etc.

What is the best part of being a Digital Nomad?

The freedom!
I feel that there’s a bit of a stereotype these days of what a digital nomad is; a white male in his late 20s who works on his laptop all day and moves to a new digital nomad hotspot every few months.

But the great thing about being a digital nomad is that you get to decide where you live and how you live your life! Yes, I can decide to go to Chiang Mai (a city I really enjoyed) and work from there for the next three months. But I can also decide to stay in Spain for a year or to travel non-stop. Or to settle down and only occasionally work from somewhere else. I have always liked the idea of being free to do whatever I want and that is exactly what the digital nomad lifestyle has given me. Plus a chance to see the world and meet so many different people with so many great life stories.

At the Taj Mahal India

Are there any downsides to being a Digital Nomad?

Absolutely! Really feeling connected to a place is much harder when you move around so much. Being far away from friends and family makes you miss out on parts of their lives. Saying goodbye to new friends because you have decided you want to see a new place might become easier over time, but it’s still a very sad part of the digital nomad lifestyle.

To me, having lived in 13 different countries almost feels like I have lived 13 different lives. That’s amazing, but I have also said goodbye to all of those lives and now miss parts of all of those lives.

And lastly, it becomes a lot harder to settle in one place once you have lived in so many different ones!

3 Tips for people who also want to be a Digital Nomad.

I would start by joining a few digital nomad groups on Facebook. Not only can you ask any question you may have there, it will also give you some nice insights into what’s going on in the digital nomad community. These communities tend to be very open and supportive so you will find out a lot about what’s going on in the lives of digital nomads there.

Also, keep in mind that it took most digital nomads quite some time to make it work financially. Therefore, think about what you want to do as a digital nomad and then allow yourself enough time to work towards that goal. Don’t be too hard on yourself in the process, just keep going, take your time, and if you really want to become a digital nomad you will get there!

Do you live as a Digital Nomad and would like to answer the same questions as Sanne did and inspire other people? Please send an email to info@kaatkeepsgoing.nl.

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‘Life as a Cosmopolitan’ Interviews

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