Cryptocurrency for digital nomads – purchase made

Verification At Last

I’d completely given up on Kraken as a way to purchase bitcoin, after their non-response to the verification error that rendered their service completely unusable. I wasn’t exactly eager to start throwing my money at a company that can’t resolve what seems to be a simple bug.

I’d been on the verge of making a purchase via Bitstamp, but then read some reviews that gave me pause. Maybe they’re fine! They probably are. But I just chickened out at the last minute.

In the interim, I also briefly looked into Coinsquare, which seems like it’s probably an ok option for people based in Canada. But their verification process was a hassle too, so I never got verified there.

Then, out of the blue, I got an email stating that Kraken had indeed obtained some tissues for their issues and finally sorted out that bug.

 

Our dear friend Marco comes through at last. Cheers, Marco!

 

Sure look, we all had a long and eventful holiday season and find ourselves just getting back into the swing of things as January creaks to a close.

Anyways, I took the bait and went to verify dear Marco’s claims vis-a-vis verification.

 

Kraken Comes Through

Much to my surprise and delight, the verification door had been opened, and suddenly it was simple, painless, and quick getting to Tier 2:

That’s an incomplete list of the Tier 3 requirements, but for now Tier 2 suits my needs so I’ll forego giving them my passport for now.

After I submitted my date of birth and address (not even a document stating my address, just me typing it into the form), I got an email confirming I’d been verified for Tier 2 status almost immediately.

Caveat: whatever address you tell them needs to match the one for the bank you’re using to make your deposits, so choose carefully. I chose to use my Irish bank account so as to be able to make a nice, fee-free SEPA transfer. This is a massive improvement over the rubbish US sites that wanted you to make a US bank wire transfer, that your bank probably charges you USD $25 for. Yay, EU!

 

Deposit & Purchase

So I initiated my SEPA transfer, and waited with bated breath. (Aside: how much do you dislike when people spell it ‘baited’ breath? A lot? Me too.)

I was a little bit concerned, because they state in a few places that you need to include ‘kraken.com’ in your Reference ID, but my bank had a character limit so there wasn’t room for the full code, plus ‘kraken.com’. So I left it off.

The Reference code is a 16 digit code which identifies your account, and is safe to send. I hoped that not being able to include ‘kraken.com’ in the Reference field wouldn’t cause them to lose my payment.

Lo and behold, less than 24 hours later, I received an email saying the deposit had come through!

From there, it was really easy to make a purchase. You can specify the amount in XBT that you want to buy, or the total amount in fiat currency (in this case EUR) that you want to spend, and it calculates how much of a bitcoin that is.

Within minutes, the purchase had gone through and I became the proud owner of a small, and yet non-zero amount of bitcoin.

What’s more, it’s a process that should be easy to replicate so I can dollar*-cost-average in over time. (*Euro-cost-average, in this case?)

 

A Question of Fees

I’m very fee-conscious when it comes to investing. I’m ok with the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly vicissitudes that come with any fluctuating, market-based asset. But I don’t want to have to pay a fee every time I make a purchase.

Fortunately, it seems like if you find a trading platform that accepts SEPA transfers, and if you are in fact in possession of a euro-zone bank account, you can avoid fees on depositing fiat currency.

I also didn’t pay a fee to make my purchase of bitcoin, but that appears to be a January-only deal. It’d be nice if their fee schedule page didn’t show a bunch of zeroes, as though that were the normal state of affairs, though…

I’ll report back with what fee I was charged the next time I make a purchase.

 

Security Vs. Convenience

For now, I feel like Kraken has hit a sweet spot in terms of balancing the need for security with the need for us to maintain our sanity. Having to use a particular phone number for the 2FA each time you log in would be a pain for digital nomads who swap SIM’s depending on where they are. But it’s nice to have the added security of 2FA.

Enter Kraken’s system of choosing what kind of 2FA you want, and what you want it for. I haven’t seen this before, but I like it. You can add an additional password of your own choosing, or you can use Google Authenticator.

And you can choose which method you want for which function, such as general account login (which they strongly advise but don’t require), trading, funding, and setting up an account-recovery Master Key. Nice touch, guys.

 

So, it seems that the winner by default is Kraken, for now. They have a combination of reasonable verification, low fees, ease of use, and security which works for me. And it will be interesting to observe the bitcoin market more closely now that I have some skin in the game.

As always, this in no way constitutes tax or investment advice. Don’t take investment advice from strangers on the internet, be safe, keep fit, and have fun.

Sometimes, gifs are so necessary, you have to make them yourself. Take some inspiration from these great Canadians, and take a body break right now.

via GIPHY

 

Digital Nomad Gear Update

Gear Geek Update

I’m very hesitant to add any gear to my setup. I dislike carrying around too much crap and I really don’t need much to be happy, so all things considered, I’d almost always rather keep my money to be used in more freedom-enhancing ways.

However, I made a few key additions over the holidays, and so far I’m very happy with all of them. Some of them might even be of use to some of you beautiful globe-trotting souls.

Photo by Oscar Nilsson on Unsplash

One commonality I’ve noticed is, we digital nomads tend to be a combination of minimalist and gear-geeky. It makes sense. When we don’t own many physical possessions, and we carry around and interact with those we do own on a regular, visceral basis, they really need to justify their existence. They should serve their intended purpose with elegance and simplicity, be as lightweight and portable as possible, and generally be a pleasure to use. Is that so much to ask?

Not everything I own fits that description, but the below three items definitely do. They also happen to support my health and money-saving goals as well, so yay.

 

The best (only) portable standing desk in existence?

I’ll start off with the one I’m most excited about. This is one of those products that I’ve needed for years, and finally someone was kind enough to design it. I’m so glad I found out about it, I’m shocked that it’s not more widely used in our community, and I’m very happy to share it with you now.

It’s the Levit8 flat-folding, portable standing desk, and I’ve been using it every single day for over a month. I love it so much. Here’s why:

My current setup in rural Ireland.

Lightweight & Portable

The Levit8 folds up to around the size of my MacBook Air 13″. That means that it’s been ridiculously easy to take it with me wherever I take my computer. Which is everywhere.

I had it delivered to my sister’s place in Vancouver, used it there for a few weeks, then brought it back to Ireland and have been using it here ever since! I haven’t brought it to a coffee shop yet, and I can imagine that not every coffee shop would have a place where you could set it up and stand unobtrusively. But I would bet that nearly every Airbnb or coworking space would be conducive to setting up your own little standing workstation.

Then when you’re done, you neatly fold it up and scamper along your merry way, leaving awestruck converts to the standing-desk revolution in your wake. Maybe. Either way it will fit in whatever you already use to transport your laptop.

Elegant Design

I really like how it folds in such a clever way. It visually looks good. Much better than the printer paper boxes or whatever other junk I’d been scrounging up to put my laptop on.

One note about the design: while it’s easy to use once you’ve gotten the hang of it, it might take you a bit of practice to open it. If you’re me, you might make your boyfriend and your sister demonstrate multiple times before you finally get it.

Here’s a quick demo so you see what I mean:

Standing while Working makes me feel good and increases my productivity

I’ve been a standing desk devotee for a long time. I was one of the first weirdos to stand up in my former office in Seattle, and then I just used a cabinet that was the right height that happened to be near my cube. I’ve tried a few other solutions since then, but nothing that was this convenient and portable.

But the fact remains that sitting for many hours in a row just makes me feel gross. It’s been shown that it’s bad for our bodies, and I think that once most people get used to standing for all or part of their workday, they won’t want to go back to sitting.

I like standing almost 100% of the time, but I do take breaks to walk around or stretch. I also find I just naturally shift around on my feet so I’m in less of a static position than I would be if I were sitting. I’m also more aware of my posture and body positioning.

Best of all, I find I get into a flow state much more readily when I’m standing (and when I have good deep house music on). Aside: these are two things that some traditional offices discourage, because reasons. Fine. Quit that crappy job that’s bad for your body and mind, and use your improved productivity to go work for yourself. Win-win.

Designed by a team of rad Women

Scroll down on their Kickstarter page to see the design team. They’re based in Singapore. Rock it out, ladies.

reasonable Price

I’m actually kind of astonished at how affordable this product is. I got mine on Amazon, and while they were out of stock for a little while around the holidays, they appear to be in stock now.

If you like to stand and work, or even if you think you’d like to give it a go sometimes, this is well worth adding to your setup.

 

Portable Yoga Mat

One of the things that I do is, I do yoga. Maybe you do yoga too.

I don’t love renting mats wherever I go, because that adds up really quickly. But I also didn’t love carrying a rolled mat around with me all day. I’m usually carrying around enough as it is, and I really prefer to have only one bag to keep track of. So when my old travel mat wore out, I was excited to replace it with this one:

It fits in the bag I carry my laptop in, even with the Levit8 included. So I can just run around the city, work in a coffee shop, hop on and off transit with ease, and then go to a yoga class. Beautiful.

It’s a full-size mat, so if those work for you, so will this. It’s on the thinner side so if you’re sensitive on hard surfaces, be aware of that. And it’s not the stickiest material in the world either, but I use it with a towel on top of it for hot yoga, and it works great.

I’ll also be taking it with me on any trips longer than a week or so. It provides a space to get a workout in, stretch, or meditate, no matter where you are. Here’s to sane, healthy nomading.

 

Travel French Press

The other two products were the exact ones I bought and love, but this one I picked up in a supermarket in Vancouver. It’s not very different from this, and it is a handy way to have good coffee no matter where you are.

You know how when you’re staying in an Airbnb and they don’t have a coffee maker of any sort, and you’re just like: ughhhhhhh? Me too! I like this because it only requires hot water and ground coffee, and you can take it with you and rinse it out anywhere.

It’s also less waste and less expensive than buying so many coffees to-go.

 

So there you have it. I added three whole things to my worldly possessions, and they’re all in regular use.

Do you have any can’t-live-without-it gear that the world needs to know about? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 

Cryptocurrency for digital nomads – update

The quest continues

My search for a way to buy crypto that doesn’t suck continues apace. Here’s an update of where I landed with the platforms I tried, and the degree to which each of them sucks:

*NB: 0/10 shall denote the suckiest and least useful.

 

Coinbase

Never replied to my most recent customer service query, 1 week ago. Did send me annoying auto-emails talking about what I should do with my shiny new (utterly non-functional) account.

Rating: 0/10,  maximal sucking, minimal utility.

 

Kraken

Never replied to my most recent customer service query, also exactly 1 week ago. Not trynna chase you guys to give you my business, bros. I get that their volumes are probably especially high lately, but still.

Rating: 1/10, account is equally useless but at least I didn’t get any annoyingly chirpy auto-emails about a service I can’t use.

 

Gemini

So, these guys actually verified me to the point where I could see about making a purchase. Exciting! Then it turns out they only accept fiat currency transfers via bank wire, which is prohibitively expensive for small purchases (my US bank charges me USD$25 per outgoing wire transfer).

Also, I dislike having to use a North American phone number every damn time I log in to my account. But I’d have overlooked that if they allowed a better option for funds transfer. I didn’t proceed with making a purchase.

Rating: 5/10, significantly less sucky than Coinbase or Kraken, but still not allowing me to do what I want, which is make purchases easily, with minimal hassles and minimal fees.

 

Bit Panda

The newcomer! I added these guys to my experiment following a suggestion from someone on one of the digital nomad communities I’m part of. They are more Europe-friendly, so yay! But, alas, their verification also sucks, so boo.

They offered this video-verification service, which was in German, but fine, Google Translate to the rescue. Only I waited on the other side of the video call for at least 10 minutes, and pinged a message to their help chat, before giving up altogether. Haven’t heard back from them since.

This was a disappointment, because it appears as though they allow normal funds transfers from euro-denominated accounts. And given that online transfers in Europe just generally suck a lot less than in the US, I was hopeful about that.

Rating: 4/10, I have to rank Bit Panda as sucking a bit more than Gemini, because at least I could get verified there. But I suspect for those who can get past that hurdle (surely some people have had better luck with their weird video service?) the payment options are a lot better. For those of us with euro banks, at least.

Bitstamp

Another new addition to the list, on the suggestion of a friendly commenter on the previous post. Want to send me any other suggestions? I’m clearly highly suggestible in this area.

I just submitted my verification documents, in a relatively pain-free process. Fingers crossed!

Rating: 5/10, tentatively hopeful. This is like going on an even marginally promising first date after a string of disasters. It’s not gonna take that much to be better than the last bunch, so use that to your advantage, Bitstamp. (“Well, it seems like he isn’t a racist, so there’s that!” Basically, don’t be a racist and you’re in with a chance, Bitstamp.)

 

So far, no purchases made

As I write this, Bitcoin has had a very bullish (and yet tumultuous) few days, looking to surpass $10,000 USD/BTC. But, as with all my investments, I don’t try to time the market. If/when I do make a purchase, it will be a small % of my net worth, and I’ll add to it over time as part of my overall portfolio.

And especially, as always, nothing here even remotely constitutes investment or tax advice. Do your due diligence and follow your own bright star. 

Cryptocurrency for the uninitiated

Part 1: Coinbase vs. Kraken vs. Gemini 

what sucks the least for digital nomads?

 

Google search: How do I buy Bitcoin?

 

Depending on the definition of the range of birth years, I may be considered a slightly ‘older’ Millennial (yuck and ugh to each of those terms, in that order). However, when I decided it was time to get into cryptocurrency investing, any questions I may have had about my membership in the oft-over-analysed generation were dispelled, as I turned to my perennial favourite solution to any unknown problem: the all-knowing oracle of Google. 

via GIPHY

 

Obviously cryptocurrencies are being talked to death right now, and I feel late to the party. But after hearing about crypto from yet another savvy client, I decided to jump in and get some firsthand experience myself. Digital nomads seem like we should be the ideal demographic for a borderless currency, and yet, as I would soon find out, the current platforms aren’t very nomad-friendly. And my go-to solution for all life’s mysteries wasn’t giving me any concrete answers.

 

As a Bitcoin newbie, who considers herself passably tech-literate but is far from a programmer, I actually found the current resources on crypto to be a bit lacklustre. What I found were mostly either overly skeptical or dumbed-down mainstream media articles seemingly aimed at an (*ahem* even) older generation, Subreddits getting way too far into the weeds, or overly enthusiastic guys selling something. Where was the nice, normal, “here’s how to do this” guide?

 

We the nomadic are used to things not really being designed for us, but I wasn’t even finding good resources for normal, settled people. This Business Insider piece was actually the closest to useful that I could find, and they seem to have A) decided not to write about the hassle-ridden identity verification step for some reason, and B) been doing it mostly for the lulz. Not all that helpful, tbh.

 

And they didn’t even mention the difference between a trading platform, like Coinbase, needed to buy crypto, and a wallet, which you need to store it! To a n00b like myself, it would have been useful to have a breakdown of exactly what one needs, and why.

 

So that’s what I’ll attempt here. I also didn’t set out to test so many trading platform options, but as fate would have it, many of them are painfully un-user-friendly, so necessity became the mother of experimentation. If Coinbase had sucked less, I might have just gone with them, and never thought to write about it at all.

 

As I blunder my way through this little experiment, I’ll note what I think nomads need to know and what to expect. As always, nothing written here is intended as nor should be interpreted as investment or tax advice. I am simply documenting my experience.

 

STEP ONE: How to buy crypto?

 

First attempt: Coinbase

The platform I’d heard the most about was Coinbase, so I started there. What they, and most other resources I found, didn’t spell out very well, is that you need a platform to purchase and/or trade crypto, and you need a wallet to safely store it. Coinbase is only the former.

 

But before I tackled the question of what kind of crypto wallet to use, I had to actually get my (digital) hands on some. I’d looked at the Coinbase app a few months ago, and decided it wasn’t robust enough to get started on, so I went to the desktop site.

 

And that’s where my problems began.

 

In retrospect, I wonder if the wifi on the train I was on when I signed up was using a UK IP address, since it was a train that goes from Dublin to Belfast (even though I was staying in the Republic). In any case, Coinbase somehow decided, without any input or prompting from me, that I was signing up for a UK account. 

 

You’d think that, as it was a brand new account, it would be easy enough to update the country from the wrong one they’d decided on, to one of my very own choosing. Let’s table for now the issue of which country even applies to the nomadic, but for better or worse, of all the possible countries theoretically available to me, the UK isn’t currently one of them.

 

Unfortunately, Coinbase requires you to use a form of ID to update the country on your account. But then when you use a form of ID not associated with the current country, it disallows that ID. I found myself stuck in a strange loop. It’s been as fun trying to explain that to their customer support team as you’d imagine.

 

I tried to troubleshoot on my own for an hour on Sunday, before contacting their customer support and getting an unhelpful word-vomit standard email reply restating all the things that also weren’t helpful on their FAQ section.

Unhelpful and overly wordy

After a few more back and forth emails, they said they’d get back to me 3 days ago and I haven’t heard anything since.

 

Second attempt: Kraken

While holding out a glimmer of hope for Coinbase, I turned to potential alternatives. Back to Google:

 

How to buy bitcoin not on Coinbase?

 

One of the first alternatives I saw pop up was Kraken. The initial signup process was much less shit than Coinbase, until I tried to verify there:

Again with the not-helpful

 

Um, ok, cool. Back to emailing support. When they got back to me, the reply was as puzzling as the strange loop of Coinbase:

By not resolving your issue, thereby your issue shall be resolved.

 

So, you’re aware this is an issue, and that this issue renders your service utterly unusable, and yet you’ve marked it as Solved? Explain. Show your work.

 

Third attempt: Gemini

Back to the Google hivemind. This time, Gemini bubbled up to the surface. It’s owned by the Winklevii, but I’ll try not to hold that against it.

 

Signup was ok. They needed a North American phone number, which I happen to have, even though it’s not convenient to use it when I’m outside North America. But they actually let me submit myself and my various bits and bobs for verification/scrutiny, and that’s where my saga currently lies.

 

So, to summarise, it’s taken nearly a week, 3 attempts, probably a dozen total emails back and forth with the various Zendesk support teams, and nary a bitcoin purchased.

 

Thoughts

 

One of the things these sites all had in common was an unquenchable need to know what country the user was tied to. Like, why are you so obsessed with me?

via GIPHY

 

But seriously, I personally have at least 3 countries I could theoretically choose from. All with valid forms of ID, active bank accounts, etc. Which one did they want me to pick? It actually wasn’t entirely clear at any point. I went with the approach of choosing the one that seemed the most expedient for each site.

 

None of them really explained in any satisfactory detail what the country association would be used for. Taxes, maybe? Payment options? But surely they can imagine a world in which a person has more payment options available to them than 1 debit card in 1 country?

 

From Coinbase’s FAQs

 

And what about someone who doesn’t happen to have a passport that matches a verifiable address? Can they buy bitcoin at all?

 

Maybe there are better sites out there that suck less. I’d be delighted to hear about them. For now, it seems like Gemini is my best bet, so I will post again if/when they verify my realness (status: realer than real) and allow me to make a purchase.

 

How about you? Have you ventured into cryptocurrency? I’d love to hear about how other location independent people have tackled the country/verification issue.

 

Tax Considerations for Digital Nomads

In September, I was honoured to be part of the awesome Nomad City conference in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

It was a great event and a wonderful experience, and it was my first time speaking to such a diverse group of digital nomads. Typically I’d be speaking to US-specific tax issues, but for this talk, I had to keep it relevant to everyone, and above all, brief! I was asked to keep it well under 20 minutes, which isn’t much time at all when you’re talking something as complex as digital nomad tax.

The fabulous folks at Nomad City provided me with a video recording of it, so I thought I’d share it with you here.

Let me know what you think! And any US expats or digital nomads out there, feel free to contact me or just schedule a consultation to discuss your specific situation!

Stuff digital nomads do

Digital nomad destination recap

The first few months of sweet, sweet freedom post-corporate job have flown by. I’ve been fairly busy travelling, so I haven’t really had time to process what a “normal” week will look like. Maybe there won’t really be a “normal”, or at least not one that persists for more than a few months at a time.

 

What I have done is a bit of travelling, which is great because that’s what I love to do. So I thought I’d do a quick summary of where I’ve been recently. Now that I’ve given up my apartment in Dublin (more on that later), I’m planning on doing more slow travel in the coming months and into 2018.

 

But for now, here’s a glimpse into some of the stuff digital nomads do.

July:

Vancouver for a long weekend/dog birthday party

 

At the end of July I used up some of my remaining vacation days and took a quick trip home to Vancouver. It was partially because I missed my family, partially because I wanted any excuse to be anywhere but the office for a few additional days before my last day, and mostly because it was my sister’s dog’s birthday party.

A beach party, to be exact. Yes, he’s a chihuahua, and yes, it’s always one of the best gatherings of the summer. 

Vancouver summer doesn’t suck

Family, friends, and dogs from far and wide gather annually to celebrate the birth of one very special chihuahua

Overall, it’s probably not the best use of a flight to go for such a short trip (5 days in total) but I also wanted to remind myself of the kinds of time constraints I’d very soon be free of.

 

My next trip home to Vancouver is for 5 weeks in Dec/Jan, and this time, I’ll be able to work and grow my business seamlessly the entire time.

 

In between sneaky mid-week ski days in Whistler, that is.

 

August:

 

Glasgow/Edinburgh with parents & Sister

 

Mid-August, only a few days after my unceremonious last day in the office, I hopped over to Scotland to meet my parents on the first leg of their holiday. We stayed in an Airbnb near my sister’s flat in Glasgow’s West End, and had a terrific few days exploring Glasgow, as well as a little day trip into Edinburgh, which was in the midst of the International Festival madness.

University of Glasgow

I love Scotland, and it was a lot of fun showing our parents around, as well as getting to see where my sister hangs out in Glasgow.

The Royal Mile, Edinburgh

We found a quiet churchyard just steps away from the madness of the Royal Mile

West of Ireland (cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands)

 

Next, my parents came to Ireland to see where I live. My awesome sister joined too, and we rented a car and drove to the west to see the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands.

Inis Mor, Aran Islands (yes, this is the west of Ireland, not the tropics)

Sisters selfie cycle on Inis Mor

The Cliffs of Moher, from a boat tour

Galway

Parents in Galway’s Latin Quarter

The weather cooperated, which is never a guarantee in Ireland!

 

Newgrange, Dublin National Archaeology museum

Back on the other side of the island, we checked out Newgrange/Knowth and the National Archaeology Museum, which is excellent, and free. Score!

Family cliff walk near Portrane

Knowth, Neolithic passage tombs in Co. Meath

September:

 

Donegal and Westport, Co. Mayo with friends

 

Not long after I’d said goodbye to my parents, I said hello to a very welcome visitor, a good friend from Seattle! Well, neither she nor I are actually from Seattle, but that’s where we met, along with our other friend who now lives in Dublin too.

Beach walk in Donegal

We took a road trip up to Donegal, and then down the west coast to county Mayo, where we had an absolutely incredible meal at An Port Mor in Westport.

On the drive down from Donegal, we stopped at a picturesque spot

There’s always next year, Mayo.

Just some charming Westport charm

The superb An Port Mor, in Westport. One of the best meals I’ve had all year.

We also made an impromptu pilgrimage to the Knock Shrine.

Oslo with A friend

 

Since my friend had a few days to spare before the next leg of her trip in Europe, we decided to randomly choose a city neither of us had been to, that had cheap-ish flights. Such is the magic of a flexible schedule!

Oslo Opera House

Just chillin’

Oslo it is! It was a terrific few days. Oslo is gorgeous, the people are nice, and we once again had the weather on our side. The day of the boat tour was particularly gorgeous.

On top of the Holmenkollen ski jump, living out my dreams of Winter Olympic glory

I really loved the sculptures in Vigeland Sculpture Park

Rainbow over Oslo

Las Palmas (Nomad City!)

 

Then, a few days after I got back from Norway, it was off to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for Nomad City.

Gorgeous beaches in Las Palmas

Just inspiring quotes for digital nomads

It was a great event, in a stunning location. No surprise so many of my fellow nomads make it a recurring stop/base. I hope to spend more time there soon.

Nomad City in full swing! Such an honour to be part of this event!

I really should’ve stayed on a few more days to get in more beach time

 

On my last day in Las Palmas, I recorded a podcast with the one and only Johnny FD! I tried to play it cool, but I was so jazzed to meet such a prominent and well-respected voice in the digital nomad sphere.  Fortunately for me, he’s beyond nice, and put me right at ease. A great end to an all-too-short stay in Las Palmas!

 

Madrid

 

After Nomad City, I hopped over to Madrid to spend a few gorgeous days. It was end-of-September, autumn-y perfection.

El Retiro Park, Madrid

Just more stunning autumn colours in the park

Outside the Prado Museum, Madrid

Goya’s Saturn, just one of many masterpieces at the Prado

Mercado San Miguel, Madrid, perfect place to stop for tapas and a drink

Like everyone, I adore everywhere I’ve been in Spain. Love the food, love the people, love everything. I even practiced my very limited Spanish, with some success (my sincere thanks and apologies to the lovely people of Madrid).

 

October:

 

Nice/Monaco/Antibes with lovely boyfriend

First time in the south of France, first time on holidays with actual best boyfriend in the world. I was a very happy camper.

Monaco!

Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco

Walking around the palace in Monaco

More torturing the locals with my attempts at French, more great food, great weather, and great scenery.

Antibes!

It’s so easy to get around in the Cote d’Azur, that we took a few day trips from Nice, to Monaco and Antibes. We could’ve easily spent a few more days in Nice alone, and yet another day to add Cannes to the list.

Nice flower market

We love Nice!

The view from some steps. Where there are steps, so I must go.

Move out of Dublin flat/into lovely, lovely cousin’s house

 

Then, as the month of October drew to a close, I found myself packing up my few belongings and closing up my apartment in Dublin. It was a fine place to live for a while, but I wasn’t sorry to say goodbye to it.

 

My current location is by the sea, in County Louth, Ireland, with my amazing, amazingly generous cousin and her beautiful family. I’m beyond grateful to be able to spend some time with them this coming month.

 

Current challenge: getting work done when 7-year-old twin girls want to play…

 

6 months in: seeing the trees, not just the forest

Then:

  • Not creating
  • Feeling stuck
  • Stressed out
  • Unclear on future goals
  • Unable to find time for both family as well as personal travel

 

Now:

  • Actively learning and creating
  • Feeling inspired
  • Less stressed (but slightly more apprehensive!)
  • Developing future goals and plans that excite me
  • Prioritising what matters most to me: health, family & loved ones, travel

 

As of 8 October, I’ve been blogging for 6 months. In that time, I’ve quit my corporate job, given notice on my apartment, and had a few exciting adventures along the way. It’s amazing how much can happen in the span of 6 months.

 

I’m only just beginning, both in terms of my blogging journey, and in self-employment. I think it’s often easy to compare ourselves to those around us who are much further ahead on their journeys, and feel it’s too late, or that it will be too hard to catch up. Those thoughts do still surface, but ultimately I remind myself I’m grateful that I started when I did.

 

The old saying is true, whether we’re talking about investing, creating something, pursuing your dreams, or making a big change in your life:

 

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese proverb

 

I could have spent the last 6 months still unhappy in my job, still feeling like I wasn’t progressing towards anything. Yes, still collecting a steady paycheque. But still no closer to the others out there, doing what I wished I could be doing.

 

And, much more importantly, still no closer to my dreams for the life I wanted to create for myself.

 

Because ultimately, my dreams and goals aren’t comprised of metrics like money, or pageviews, or anything that can be externally measured. But even if it’s not measured out in numbers that can be reassuringly analysed, making progress towards goals requires action. Taking a first step, and then taking another. And then another. 

 

It’s so often repeated as to become trite, but I find I need to remind myself of it on a regular basis, now that I’m working towards creating something for myself. Taking action is always, always, always, better than the alternative. Trying something, anything, is going to be better than staying stagnant. And it’s never possible to be fully optimised, so it’s best to just jump in.

 

Seeing the trees, not just the forest

It’s easy to get distracted by all the noise out there, by all the possibilities. We all want to succeed (whatever that means), to offer something of value, and, perhaps most dangerous of all, to not be left behind. The more time I spend in the entrepreneurial sphere, I notice a kind of business FOMO out there. If you’re not careful, it can make you feel like it’s a HUGE CRISIS that you’re not simultaneously building an FBA empire, and mastering Pinterest, and growing your email list, and dabbling in crypto currency, and, and, and…

All of those things are great, and have been paths to incredible success for many people. But we can’t properly focus on all of them, all at once. And for many people, that sense of overwhelm could stop them from even starting something new.

Whether it’s starting a business, or embarking on a creative endeavour, or travelling, or starting to invest and get your finances in order, I think all of these worthy pursuits can seem out of reach when we all we see is forest.

Just to continue on with tree-related cliches for a moment, the old admonishment that it’s a problem when you can’t see the forest for the trees certainly has its place. But how do you know where to start, when staring at the vastness of an impenetrable forest? What if instead you chose to focus on one perfectly manageable tree at a time?

This approach keeps me moving forward, which is the best cure for overwhelm. And each step taken, each action, each tree planted (or climbed, or hell, even hugged) builds on the last, until you may find yourself in the midst of a far more beautiful and interesting landscape than when you started.

I’d love it if you’d comment and share one step you’re taking, whether it’s in business, personal finance, travel, your personal life, or anything else!

Happy autumn, and here’s to your next 6 months. 

 

Airbnb strategies – Part 2: Digital nomads

In Part 1, I shared my thoughts on Airbnb strategies for hosts, particularly geared towards those of you considering subletting a place you rent. If you decide to try that out, it can be a great experience. And of course the side income stream to help fund your travels doesn’t hurt!

 

But what about using Airbnb as a digital nomad?

 

Part 2 will discuss strategies for digital nomads to use Airbnb as part of their accommodation planning process, and the 3 ways I think digital nomads can benefit from including Airbnb in their housing search.

 

What’s different about digital nomad housing needs

 

I’ve used Airbnb many times as a typical guest, most often for stays of less than a week. And I think it’s great for that purpose. I generally prefer having a more “like a local” experience, rather than staying in a hotel. And while Airbnb can certainly be pricey in some cities, I still think it can be far more affordable than most hotels. It’s also just a more interesting experience. But I’m really not a fan of hotels. I don’t like how sterile they often feel. Staying in a real home is much more comfortable to me.

 

However, as digital nomads, our housing needs are a bit different than the typical traveller who spends a few days or a week at a time in any one place. A digital nomad might spend more like 1 to 3 months at a time in a location.

 

That’s the time frame that I’m planning on, which dovetails nicely with the amount of time many of us may have to spend in countries visa-free. There are plenty of good resources to help you figure out how long you can stay visa-free in various countries. But once you decide how long you want to stay in a given place, what’s the best approach for finding housing?

 

I think there are 3 advantages to using Airbnb, but I’m also keeping my eye out for new and emerging tools and solutions. I really think this is an underserved area right now, but there are a few interesting and creative solutions coming out that digital nomads will want to be aware of.

 

  1. Planning
  2. Rent, don’t own
  3. Socialising/normalising in a location

 

 

1. PLANNING

 

I love planning. One of the most fun parts of getting ready for a trip of any length is getting stuck into research and anticipating what neighbourhoods you’ll explore and what unique experiences you’ll want to seek out.

I know many digital nomads advocate a boots-on-the-ground approach to finding housing, and I intend to test out that approach myself. But even so, I’d want to do some research into a completely new place before deciding to go there.

In fact, I think a reasonable approach for the digital nomad who’s looking to keep her costs low, is to choose a location with housing costs very much in mind.

The way I’ve begun to tackle this is to start by searching Airbnb for a somewhat random month, and comparing the selection across a few different cities. The trick to searching for an entire month at a time is it allows you to see the discounted monthly rates that many hosts offer.

 

For example, by searching for at least 4 weeks at a time, the site shows you the monthly rate, instead of the nightly one. And many hosts offer steep discounts off their nightly rates when you book for an entire month at a time.

 

Here are some examples of searches for the month of March, in Prague and Budapest:

Prague daily rates

Prague monthly rates

Even for one of the cheaper daily rates, at €27 * 28 nights = €756. As you can see, there are plenty of monthly rates offered well below that.

Let’s compare Budapest as well:

Budapest daily rates

Budapest monthly rates

Besides a few cheaper outliers, the daily rates don’t come close to the value found when you search monthly. That first one for €485/month?! What a steal. See ya soon, Budapest.

As you can see, by searching for 4 weeks or more, you open up a lot more affordable options.

For comparison, here’s what you get when you search in Dublin. Much as I love it here, the housing market is not conducive to those looking for short term housing. Or any housing. Or wishing to pay less than €1200/month. 🙁

Sad map

 

Now, ultimately, savvy nomads may find they can source even more affordable housing once they’re actually on the ground in those cities.

But, I appreciate knowing that I can secure housing in advance, and knowing exactly what it will cost. It’s there as a backup in case you need it, or in case you can’t find anything better or cheaper.

When I search Airbnb for monthly rentals and can’t find anything suitable for less than €1000/month, it gives me a good idea of how expensive housing is in that city, and I may rule it out for longer stays.

 

 

2. RENT, DON’T OWN

 

When putting together your monthly budget, don’t forget about all the things you don’t need to buy/bring when you are renting a furnished, fully stocked Airbnb. This is a huge advantage of the digital nomad lifestyle.

It also means there’s far fewer things for you to do when you arrive in order to get set up. You don’t need to set up wifi. You don’t need to go buy towels and bed linens. And you don’t have to pay separately for heating or bin collection.

That makes those lovely sub-€600 monthly rates even more appealing. Even if I’m just comparing that to my current base monthly rent, I’d come out ahead, but when I factor in all the bills, heating/electric, bins, wifi, etc, the difference is really significant.

You don’t need to kit out a whole kitchen, so if there are a few things that would make your month more enjoyable, you may not mind shelling out for a better knife*, or a decent bottle opener. Then just leave them for the next guests, to pay it forward.

*Incidentally, what is it about most Airbnb’s having nigh-unusable knives? I’m far from a kitchen gear snob, but something that can chop vegetables would be nice! But if I have to pick up something for €15 (or in all likelihood, far less) so that I can properly cook, I will happily consider it a friendly parting gift to my host when I leave it behind.

 

 

3. SOCIALISING/LOCALISING

 

If you’re going to be in a place for a month or more, you may prefer to get a full apartment to yourself. However, in many of the places I’ve researched, the hosts either live nearby or clearly state they are happy to provide tips and show you around. This could work as a nice way to develop your local knowledge, or even make a new friend.

Places that are willing to rent you a room in their home for a month at a time would likely be even more open to socialising. It could be an easy, natural way to make some local contacts and to avoid feeling isolated in your first few days in a new location.

 

And, since you’ll most likely be in a real neighbourhood, rather than an area that only tourists stay in, you’ll get an instant look into how and when people shop, go out to eat, have coffee, and/or commute into city centre. You can adapt to the local rhythm much quicker that way. Plus, wandering around your new neighbourhood you can scope out the best places to buy groceries, as opposed to the overpriced and understocked options you’re likely to find adjacent to hotels.

 

 

PITFALLS

 

After having such a good track record with Airbnb, my last few bookings have had some unexpected twists and turns. There were last minute cancellations from the places I’d booked in Oslo, Madrid, and Nice. The one in Madrid was the most dramatic, as unfortunately the host wasn’t able to contact me and I was left waiting outside the apartment at 1 am, and eventually had to check into a hotel. Exciting!

 

These things happen, and Airbnb’s customer service were very helpful and reimbursed my hotel straight away so I wasn’t out of pocket. And in fact, I ended up in a way cooler part of Madrid, so I wasn’t too disappointed.

The view from where I ended up in Madrid

To be fair, unexpected adventures in housing can happen no matter what. Dealing with them with a good sense of humour goes a long way. To me, the random factor is a small price to pay for having access to such a wide array of housing options around the world.

 

ALTERNATIVES

 

Right now, I haven’t come across a site that’s as comprehensive for searching in many different locations. There are a few sites that are highly specific to particular regions, which seem like they can often offer better prices. And there are a few alternatives which have their own pros and cons.

 

Sites like NomadList are a good resource, as are many of the various nomad-oriented Facebook groups out there.

 

One of the sites I’ll be keeping my eye on is GoGoPlaces, which offers some amazing looking deals in parts of Europe. Their selection in Croatia is especially good.

 

And then there are coliving sites, like TheRoof.io which I was fortunate to take a look at in Las Palmas. And more are popping up all over the world. My main hesitation with many of the coliving sites would be the price. Many are more expensive than what you might find on Airbnb. But they do offer networking opportunities with other nomads, and often times access to coworking spaces as well.

 

Opportunity

 

What I’d really love to see is a site that offered an easy way to search all of these options, rather than having to hear about each one individually, or scrolling through various forums. That’s something I could really see giving Airbnb a run for its money in the digital nomad community.

 

I’m looking forward to reporting back on how my little Airbnb experiment goes! What tools do you use when searching for short-term rentals? Please share in the comments below! And let me know if you want to work on that idea for a nomad housing search tool…

Airbnb strategies – Part 1: Hosting

I’ve been a longtime Airbnb user. Recently on Facebook, a memory popped up from 2011, when I posted about this “cool site I was trying out.” Yes, it was a simpler time. I don’t even know if the phrase “sharing economy” existed yet. Fast forward a few years, and there are probably relatively few seasoned travellers out there who haven’t given that “cool site” a try.

 

While Airbnb isn’t all sunshine and roses (check out Part 2 for a few recent experiences I’ve had to prove that point!), I think it has some key advantages that can support both your pursuit of financial independence, and your location independence, if you so choose. If you keep a few simple strategies in mind, it could speed up your progress to both, and expand your horizons once you get there.

 

As this is a chunky enough topic, I’m splitting it into two parts, for both hosts and guests (primarily guests of the semi-nomadic variety). First up, hosting, to get your side hustle income stream flowing:

 

PART 1

HOSTING

 

Airbnb can be an easy way to add a little side hustle income stream to your roster. There has been much written and said about renting out a spare bedroom on Airbnb, or using Airbnb instead of longer term rentals in an investment property (if you didn’t already know, Paula Pant of Afford Anything is an amazing resource for all things investment-property related).

 

What I don’t see discussed as often, and perhaps with good reason, is the potential of making a place that you yourself rent, available as an occasional Airbnb rental. I personally was too scared to try this while I lived in the US. It just felt like there were too many legal/regulatory risks.

Whether or not that fear was justified, for whatever reason it didn’t seem as risky in Dublin, and thus I began my hosting career almost exactly 1 year ago.

 

Tips for hosting in a rental

 

First, I’d say you should determine how annoyed your neighbours and landlord are likely to get, if at all. And obviously have a read through your lease to see if there’s anything explicitly prohibiting it.

 

I took the view that I’d have no qualms about having an out of town friend stay in my place while I was away, which wasn’t so different from what I’d be doing, since I was only going to rent it out when I was out of town travelling. And my building was a pretty relaxed place in general, with people mostly minding their own business. It seemed ideal.

 

*I’m aware that many cities, probably primarily in North America, but possibly increasingly around the world, local authorities are getting a bit tetchy about Airbnb. It’s a complex topic, and often an emotional one, so make your best assessment of both the legal and ethical implications, and proceed accordingly.

 

In Dublin, there’s a full blown housing crisis, and that has knock-on effects into the short term and hotel markets as well. I’ve been told it’s often difficult for visitors to find a hotel room for less than €200 a night, which is far beyond the budgets of many travellers. I’m generally in favour of increasing choice for both residents of a city, as well as visitors. So I was and am satisfied that making my otherwise-unused apartment available while I was away (at far, far less than €200/night, let me assure you!) was a net positive for everyone involved.

 

So, if the stars align and you decide to take the plunge, what are some tips for would-be Airbnb hosts?

 

  • Make check-in/out easy and low-touch for you and your guests

 

Checking in should not require an in-person meetup, if it’s at all possible to avoid it. For me this was essential because I was almost always going to be on a plane heading out of the country whenever my guests were arriving. As a guest, I knew how much I valued being able to check in and out at my leisure, without having to text and coordinate with someone and cater to their schedule.

 

My solution to this was to buy a key-safe lockbox, which I attach to a railing near my building’s front door. I always inform my guests of this in advance, and I send them pictures of its location in case they are checking in after dark, and just to allay any potential worries that they might have.

The one I use is here:

 

Overall, I’m delighted with that solution. I’ve very rarely had anyone who had any difficulty with locating or using the lock box, and I’ve never received any negative feedback because of it. Possible alternatives could be a local business that doesn’t mind giving a key to your guests, especially if you’re a regular customer or if you have some relationship with them. Or an obliging friend or neighbour who you don’t impose upon too heavily. I’ve stayed in places as a guest that did both, with varying degrees of success. I’d still suggest going for the fully remote solution where possible.

 

  • Set expectations

 

This is so important for both your sanity, and that of your guests. I try to emphasise that my place is small, and in an older building, and is also my main dwelling place, so people know what they’re getting. This doesn’t mean I’ve never had a complaint that the place is small, but at least I’d caveated that emptor, so I didn’t feel too badly about it.

 

I’d also let guests know in advance the situation regarding parking, wifi, how heat/hot water/garbage worked, and what they could expect in terms of linens and bathroom basics. I’d still sometimes get questions on all of those things, and more, but to the extent possible I made an effort to be very explicit about all the quirks and features of my place.

 

  • Anticipate questions

 

This ties in closely with the above, but I made sure to make a house manual on Airbnb for specific things that I knew were unique about my place, such as the switch for the hot water, or the highly sensitive smoke alarm that will go off if you leave the door open while taking a shower.

 

Another thing I did that I think worked well was to preemptively send a link to the exact coordinates of the location on Google Maps. I actually don’t know why more hosts don’t do this! Addresses are funny and are so different from one place to the next. And it’s so blindingly easy to drop a pin on Google Maps that Airbnb should actually make it mandatory.

 

  • Bonus: prepare for tax time!

 

One of the things people sometimes worry about related to becoming an Airbnb host is what to do in terms of taxes. Generally, income is income is income, and whatever jurisdiction you live in would like for you to report that income, please and thank you very much. But how exactly that looks will vary widely from place to place.

 

In Ireland, at least, Airbnb very helpfully reminded their hosts that our income had been reported to Irish Revenue, just in case it might’ve slipped some people’s minds. How thoughtful of them! Here’s the email I received:

To Airbnb’s credit, as you can see, they did provide some links to resources in case people had questions. And when it comes to taxes, I know firsthand that people always do. And that it’s almost never an especially easy or user-friendly process.

 

If you’re a new Airbnb host and wondering what to do about taxes, here are some first steps to consider:

  1. Keep record of your related expenses

    From supplies like sheets and towels for guest use only, to getting that second set of keys cut, to the lockbox itself, it helps to keep track of all these small expenses as you go. I stuck mine all in a simple spreadsheet.

  2. Determine how and when you’ll report it

    Be especially mindful in case there are any pre-filing registrations you need. For example, in Ireland, I needed to register for MyAccount, which I discovered entailed Revenue sending me a code in the post. So I was glad I didn’t wait until the last minute, as the Irish tax filing deadline is coming up on 31 October!

  3. What are your expenses when you don’t own the place yourself?

    This will vary depending what jurisdiction you’re in, but one approach that makes sense from an accounting perspective is to take a ratable portion of your monthly rent as a rental expense. 

    For example: My monthly rent was €850, so if I rented my place for 5 days in a month, I’d figure my expense for that month as follows

(850/30)*5= €141.67

You could reasonably treat your monthly wifi, heating/electricity, and even bin charges, in a similar fashion.

Be aware that if there is no specific guidance from Revenue where you live, you should have a sound basis for why you claimed the expenses you did.

 

  1. Seek out a professional

My general, and very high-level tips aside, if you haven’t reported rental income before, and if you have any doubts at all, you should definitely seek out a qualified professional. It’s almost always worth the expense, both in terms of peace of mind, and in the cost of your valuable time. Getting your reporting right the first time, and avoiding time consuming and potentially costly questions or corrections with the tax authorities in your location, is definitely the way to go.

If you have questions from a US perspective, I’d be happy to assist you. In my experience, US reporting is likely to be one of the trickiest, and adding rental income when you’ve previously been a simple W-2-only kinda gal or guy, might mean you’d benefit from a little initial guidance.

 

PITFALLS

 

Becoming an Airbnb host is a great way to generate a little side income, to fund your travels, and to help utilise a resource that might otherwise go unused. These are all good things, but there are some potential pitfalls. In my experience as a host, these are actually pretty minor and most importantly, rare.

 

  • Cleanliness/potential damage

 

The main concerns of most hosts would be the condition that guests leave their place in. I have to say, my expectations have been wildly exceeded in this regard. Of the 17 different bookings I’ve had, ranging from solo travellers, to couples, to, in one case, a young family with a 1 year old, no one has done more damage than a broken plate (which they kindly left a euro to compensate for!). And the extent of any “mess” to clean up has been a few stray crumbs.

 

Have I just been preternaturally lucky? Well, it’s possible, and it wouldn’t be the first time. But being an Airbnb host has actually cemented my belief in the general soundness of people. I feel like this concern shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for most would-be hosts.

 

  • Unexpected guest needs

 

This one might be a bit more of a wildcard. Again, my guests have been lovely. But I could certainly see a guest who had a lot of demands being difficult to manage from afar.

 

I have had people who had questions about things that I wasn’t always able to respond to immediately (usually due to being mid-flight), and my terrific guests have either figured it out themselves, or been wonderfully patient.

 

And then there was the time that, thankfully, I was in town, and I almost had to go assist a guest with the keysafe at 3 am, which I definitely would have done. In fact, I was somewhat tipsily attempting to hail a taxi when they rang to inform me they’d figured it out! So hosts should be prepared for that to happen on occasion.

 

  • Last minute cancellations

 

There’s not much you can do there, besides set a stricter cancellation policy and hope for the best. Airbnb do a good job of managing this on both sides.

 

So should you consider becoming an Airbnb host? I say yes, with some caveats:

 

  • Be aware of the impact on those around you, including any landlords, neighbours, housemates, etc

 

  • Educate yourself on the tax and legal implications

 

  • Be ready to be flexible and adaptable to guest needs

 

Opening your home to a traveller in need can be a wonderful experience. In Part 2, I’ll talk about the guest side of the equation, particularly the potential utility for digital nomads.

 

What do you think? Would you try hosting on Airbnb? If you do, please consider using this link to sign up as a host, and I’ll get a small referral credit!

 

Nomad City Recap

From 20-25 September 2017, I was privileged to attend Nomad City Las Palmas, which is a conference for digital nomads held in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It was the first conference like this that I’ve attended, and was also my first speaking engagement since going into business for myself, so I was really excited to check it out.

The excellent team at Nomad City kindly set me up with a loft share with some of the other speakers. It was a perfect place to explore Las Palmas for a few days.

The view from Loft Canteras. Really. Walking distance to the beach, naturally.

Overall it was an amazing experience, and it’s an event I will continue to follow and hope to be a part of again in future! I really can’t recommend attending an event like this highly enough. The networking opportunities were amazing and it was so much fun.

The organisers of Nomad City deserve a ton of credit for putting on such a high value and well-executed event. I’ve summarised my thoughts on the various components of the conference below.

 

Meetups

Each day there were both daytime and evening meetups organised for attendees and speakers. Due to when I arrived, I only made it to the after-work meetup on Thursday, in the Mercado del Puerto for some drinks and tapas. The market has a cool vibe, with really good tapas and drinks at great prices. It was so much fun to socialise with the other attendees, and people were all super friendly. It ended up being a late night with some new friends!

New friends!

Workshops

The workshops were on Friday, at the INFECAR conference facilities in Las Palmas. First off, the facilities are really world class. They are sleek and modern and allowed for a nice collaborative atmosphere.

Listening intently to Sergio’s workshop

The workshops themselves were primarily 1 hour sessions with various experts, and were really informative. Of the ones I attended, I really got a lot of value from Sergio Sala’s session on how to attract better clients and earn more as a freelancer.

Another cool part of this day was getting professional headshots taken, which was set up as a drop-in session, open throughout the afternoon.

There were free beers flowing as well, which was much appreciated!

 

Talks

Getting set up for the talks

Saturday was the talks, one of which was mine! There were so many amazing sessions, it would be really difficult to pick a favourite. The talks ranged from the future of remote work, to AI, to lessons learned from sailing across the Atlantic, to coliving, to yours truly giving a brief overview of tax issues for digital nomads.

Suzanne, the Oceanpreneur!

The only small tweak I might make to this format for next time, would be to give each speaker a bit more time, and perhaps to break this up over two days. By the time we got to the end of the day, it might’ve been a bit of information overload.

They used Slido for taking questions from the audience, which worked really well. It would’ve been nice to have a little more time for questions, though.

I got great value from all of the speakers here, and there was some chance for networking on the breaks between the talks.

The littlest Nomad.

 

Social events

I attended two social events in connection with the conference. First, on Friday evening there was a gathering for speakers and sponsors, at the rooftop of an amazing coliving space in Las Palmas (called, appropriately enough, The Roof).

Sleek interior of The Roof

This was a super fun evening with great food and drinks. And the coliving space itself looked unreal. It’s so well designed, with a huge wraparound rooftop and lots of nice, inviting spaces. Places like this will make Las Palmas especially interesting to digital nomads.

The second event was the wrap party on Sunday night. It was also our chance to bid bon voyage to those continuing on to the Nomad Cruise. It was on the rooftop of the Hotel Cantur in Las Palmas. Once again, this was a really fun event. There was a real festive atmosphere and it made me wish I was going on the cruise as well! I can guarantee those guys are having an amazing time right now.

The Nomad City wrap party getting started

 

Las Palmas

If you’ve never been to Las Palmas, book a trip immediately! It’s in the Canary Islands, so of course the weather is amazing, and the beaches are top notch. But beyond that, there is a super friendly, relaxed atmosphere, plenty of great food, and really good value compared to much of the rest of Europe.

I’d seriously consider spending more time here, and I definitely don’t think 5 days was nearly enough! Las Palmas is positioning itself to become a major digital nomad hub, with coliving spaces like The Roof, and a surprising amount of choice in terms of coworking spaces.

I had perfect cell coverage and 4G/LTE data connection everywhere we went, and the city is really easy to navigate on foot, by bus, or even by reasonably-priced taxis. It goes without saying, but of course since the Canary Islands are part of Spain, they’re on the euro which makes life easy for those of us based in Europe.

I can see a lot of advantages to the Canary Islands, in particular Las Palmas and Gran Canaria. There’s ease of access to Europe, and the opportunity for a really great lifestyle on a reasonable budget.

I learned there are also certain advantages for residents of the Canary Islands, in terms of discounted travel to mainland Spain. I haven’t investigated this fully, and it might not be of much relevance to digital nomads, but nonetheless it’s an interesting feature.

 

As you can see, this was a great experience. I can’t thank the organisers, Nacho in particular, enough for this opportunity. I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone considering it. I’ll certainly be keeping my eyes peeled for future conferences like this, and hopefully attending Nomad City 2018!