The Remote Year Investment
This morning, I received an email from a journalist in Australia who had interviewed me this past March (while I was in Bali) about being a digital nomad.
Her piece on digital nomads was published in Virgin Australia’s in-flight magazine, and I was one of the feature interviewees. Yay!
The article features interviews with:
- Julia Kallweit and Diego Bejarano Gerke (founders of Wifi Tribe)
- me (a beta Remote Year participant)
- Blake Embry (an early Hackers Paradise participant)
Le Gallez (the author) also pulls in quotes about remote work from Marissa Mayer and tools like Buffer as she discusses the future & remote work.
One of my favorite quotes (of mine, ha!) in the piece is this, in regards to Remote Year:
“Whether it pays off this year or in the next five to 10 years of my life, I think it’s an investment that will be worth it.”
What do I mean?
The insights I’ve gained from living in 12 different countries in a year.
Yes, we “live” in each place in a relatively superficial and short term sense, to be fair. But it’s still more exposure than a typical trip, and the context & approach are not the same as being a tourist or backpacker.
I’m still going back through my photos and notes and writing from the year, processing what I’ve learned about the world, cultures, politics, art, and history. I visited about 50 museums and institutions over the year, plus various tours and activities in each place.
From an educational standpoint, I learned a lot about the broader world. Of course, that requires an intentional approach — you’re not going to grow as a person or learn about the world just by tromping around the globe, in spite of what inspirational quotes might say. But if you pay attention and are open to information, travel provides an abundance of insights.
The community and connections I’ve gained.
I cowrote a book with someone from my group, and we had the cover designed by a professional illustrator also in our group. I’ve been hired as a consultant by a Remote, and another Remote from a different group recommended me for a freelance gig with her company. I’ve helped people on projects and collaborated on creative endeavors.
When we want to learn about something, we just ping the “Remote Nation” and someone has a tip, a link, or a contact to share. There are “knowledge drops” about our points of expertise, Slack channels for different topics (travel, work, and otherwise), and initiatives that people contribute to from across the globe.
There’s also the personal aspect. Two years ago, I didn’t know anyone else doing what I did — traveling while working remotely. Now I have literally hundreds of people at my fingertips to discus the experience & challenges with, to get travel advice from who have a similar rubric & needs as I do, and the potential for working travel buddies.
So what is that investment?
In terms of time, it’s a year.
Yes, it’s an incredible opportunity — but it’s hard to stay committed and involved for the whole year. People quit, sometimes for valid reasons (money, health, family, work), sometimes not so much (in my personal opinion).
Being part of a large community for a year while traveling to different countries, isn’t something you can just sign up for and not think about.
It requires daily effort to be engaged, self-care to stay sane, awareness of your place in the community, the local culture, your relationships, yourself.
Then there’s the financial investment.
Probably the most common question I get asked about Remote Year is whether it’s worth it — the price tag looks high at first glance: $27,000 USD for a year.
But it covers a mix of both tangible and intangible goods and services:
- Housing each month (a private room)
- Travel between each month
- Coworking space membership
- Access to local RY employees that help organize events and advise us on regional travel & experiences
- Remote Nation network of participants from all RY groups
Invisibly, it also saved me a lot of time.
My weekly load of planning (pre- and post-RY as a solo digital nomad) ranges from 3–10+ hours of work to find housing, cafes/workspaces, travel arrangements, and what to do in each place.
Assuming my time has *any* monetary value, which it literally does as a freelancer, that $2000/month fee is quickly offset by the 12–40 monthly hours I could spend on work (or activities) instead of planning.
And, as mentioned, there are tangible things it covers that I’d be paying for anyway. Assume a private room is $20–40/night anywhere on earth I’d be (remembering that I still have to work, ergo I require wifi and power), that’s $600–1200 already. Add in travel and coworking space memberships, and you’re close to the $2000 already.
Yes, you can live + travel cheaper, and I’m by no means saying RY does everything right or is the best fit for everyone. I had (and have) my complaints. But as an offering & across the board based on my experience, the investment was reasonable and worth it.
(For other RY questions, check out my FAQ/Advice post)
I look back on that year — which ended already 7 months ago — and I know it was undoubtedly worth the investment of my time and money.
It was a hard year. It was a wonderful year. It was both exactly what I expected and nothing that I could have expected.
It pushed my life forward down this path and solidified my knowledge and experience of being a world traveler in this niche way, working my way around the globe.
I’ve become a published author, a big accomplishment, even if it’s self-made. That dream of being a writer has become a reality thanks to my writing about Remote Year and getting my words out into the world.
I now have 3+ years of professional experience supporting myself as a freelancer working remotely. I don’t attribute my career to RY directly, but I probably would have gone back to living & working full-time in New York if I hadn’t had the structure of Remote Year to support me and push me to keep making this remote lifestyle work.
Of the ways in which I could spend 12 months of my life and $27,000, Remote Year is far from the worst, and it was an incredible, almost incomprehensible experience that’s impacted who I am, who and what I know, and where I go with my life.