Digital nomad stories is weekly story series sharing experiences and tips from nomadic entrepreneurs all over the world. Join the journey!
Hi, I’m Eleni!
I’ve always been a bit nomadic. I’ve traveled a lot before I turned 18 (solo and with my family), and I studied abroad during university to Quito, Ecuador and Barranquilla, Colombia. After that, I was set on living abroad when I graduated.
But, it didn’t happen right away. I moved to San Francisco to accept a job offer at an agency. After quickly realizing that I wasn’t working – and living – up to my full potential, combined with the fact that I could live much better in any other city that wasn’t San Francisco with a similar salary, I decided to make the leap and move to Medellin, Colombia.
At first, I started to work freelance. Writing has always been my strong suit, so I started with content creation and copywriting. Eventually, I found my dream job managing the marketing department for the world’s largest accommodations search engine (where I also occasionally write articles for digital nomads).
What’s your normal daily routine as a digital nomad?
I like to work from 10am-7pm with a decent break for lunch. I usually work from an office (co-working space) and probably once a week from my apartment and once a week from a coffee shop. I usually like to meet up with someone for coffee or a drink about once a week. I also take time in the evening and on the weekends to work on my side projects: (Women Entrepreneurs of Medellin and VidaForTwo).
Also, once a week I try my best to go to at least one language exchange. I’m fluent in Spanish but only got there through practice, so I like to keep it up. Plus it’s a great way to meet other people – both locals and international.
What’s your favorite part about of being a digital nomad? & What’s the opposite – least favorite?
Seeing the world, meeting new people every single day, becoming more fluent in Spanish every single day, and becoming a better and stronger professional every single day. I truly feel like I am living my whole life and up to my full potential, both professionally and personally.
On the other side of things: moving to a new place can be difficult. Finding your way around, meeting new friends, basically starting from scratch every time you arrive somewhere new. Also, being so far away from family in the United States is very difficult.
What’s the first adventure that comes on your mind from your DN career?
Bungee jumping in Ecuador! I’ll never ever do it again but it was seriously the BIGGEST LEAP I have ever taken (besides becoming a digital nomad!).
What are the hardest things to keep up with while being a DN? What’s your suggestion for dealing with them?
I think at first, it’s definitely time management. Wanting to explore your new city and needing to get work done while there is no one there to make sure you do it can be a difficult balance to rangle.
A suggestion for dealing with that is to keep a schedule. This also becomes easier if you are working full-time for a company and need to be working at the same time your remote co-workers are. For example, I like to work 10am-7pm Monday through Friday, only one of those days I work from my apartment because otherwise I won’t be productive. I personally like working from a coffee shop or a co-working space.
Are there any online resources you find really useful and essential for your digital nomad career?
These are the ones I use for every trip (and for anything else I need as a digital nomad):
- AllTheRooms for finding places to stay.
- Skyscanner for flights.
- Wifi Finder for finding wifi (obviously).
- dnlinks.info for every other resource, especially finding remote jobs.
What were your beliefs about “being a digital nomad” before you became one, that turned out to be complete nonsense?
Not necessarily about digital nomads but more about freelancers; I didn’t think freelancers could make a full-time salary, and especially not more than that. I thought people who were “freelancers” or digital nomads always had supplemental income from somewhere else.. Maybe they had saved up from their last full-time job. In my mind, professional success and a nomad lifestyle were not synonymous.
Then I became one, and since then, I have met so many amazing freelancers, entrepreneurs, and full-time remote workers that I consider the most professionally successful people I have ever met.
What’s your favorite way of meeting new people as a nomad? What would you suggest for introvert digital nomads to get out there more?
Making friends every time you arrive in a new city is difficult at first. I’m lucky that I’ve always been really extroverted and most digital nomads are (and if they aren’t at first, they’ll become extroverted). To deal with this, I suggest joining digital nomad Facebook groups. For example, there is a “Digital Nomad Medellin” Facebook group. Start by sending messages to people who look interesting and invite them to grab a beer or coffee. Also, try to find as many events and meetups as possible to attend.
What’s your vision of the future? How long are you planning to keep up with your digital nomad lifestyle? Do you have any long-term plans on your mind?
Yes and no. I love Medellin and have found a way to stay here in the long-term. I also have a partner here (we write about our multicultural relationship here: Vida for Two). That being said, I have a job which allows me to work remotely, and he does as well (a freelance photographer). In the upcoming years, we have planned to continue our digital nomad lifestyle in going to live in the U.S. as well as various countries throughout South America.
Gathering all your current experience – what would you now say to your old self, back when you just started?
MAKE THE JUMP! Before I graduated, I knew that I wanted to live abroad. I thought that the only way to do this was to get a local job in the city where I wanted to live. I consulted with Business School professors (even an International Business Law professor), and truly didn’t believe I could do it without years of planning and without going through an established company or organization (hence why I went to San Francisco to work at an international agency.
I saw that through the agency it wasn’t happening as quickly as I wanted it to, so I just did it! I bought my one-way plane ticket, I gave up my tiny, overpriced San Francisco apartment, and packed my bags. There will be an infinite amount of people who tell you that you can’t do something. But sometimes you still have to just go for it.
“A smooth ship never made for a skilled sailor”.
Sometimes the most challenging parts of the journey are the ones that make you a better person and a better professional!