How to Become a Digital Nomad in Medellin, Even if You’re Just Going on Vacation

Medellin Lifestyle Digital Nomad Life and coffee

If you’re feeling fed up with your job, relax. We know how it is. Recently we came across some savvy young professionals who found a way to say “forget it,” for a week or two, and then get back to their jobs with more energy than ever!

If you’re in search of the perfect vacation, you’ll love our story of how one young woman, armed with only her laptop and a ticket to Medellin, found refuge and renewal from her stressful 9 to 5.

Of course, everyone who visits Medellin says this: “If only we could stay here forever!” The funny thing is, most of them don’t mean it. A part of them is aching to get back to their dog and their normal routine. But that’s normal. When it’s time to end the vacation and get back to the life you’ve built up, nothing can substitute for it.

But what about for those of you who love the home life, but keep feeling that nagging while you’re down here in Medellin, seeing all the guys and gals who have closed the door on a domestic life, and live somewhat permanently, out of a suitcase?

Well today, we’re going to take a different tact. In fact, we have come to see a HYBRID worker, not quite domesticated, not quite a digital nomad, but 100% happy with their somewhat unusual lifestyle.

Face it, when you take that taxi out of Medellin, and realize there will be no more phenomenal meals for under ten bucks, and you get on the plane and remember you’re heading to your cubicle, to the pain of long meetings and the office bickering and so on and so forth which mark our existence between these wonderful jaunts to far-flung beautiful corners of paradise, you just might cry a little.

Well, we’re here to give you the great news: it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Yes, it’s true, some people actually do say, the hell with it, I’m going to live this dream… but then don’t take the necessary steps to make that proclamation a reality. The truth is, while a few make it, the reality has not changed much and even those who have been at it for years, they will quickly tell you: this is anything but easy.

One of our colleagues here in Medellin, named Teresa, decided to stay. But rather than give up her life back in the States, she’s worked out a deal with her boss: work eight weeks in the office, and take two weeks to work virtually. When Teresa is here, every two months, she stays in the same house. She uses the same maid, and she works at the same co-working space.

Her office environment here is sort of the same. There’s people hovering around the water cooler, making coffee, procrastinating, and planning group meetings. I hear familiar jargon: synergy, work-around, programming talk…

Theresa says, “The big difference in being here to work is that my background is full of mountain images, the views everyone raves about here in Medellin. Rather than the drab office buildings I see back home. Every time I finish a two week stint here, I go home so refreshed and energized, my boss just loves it!”

Fresh foods, fruits, views and a fabulous culture to imbibe in all day?

The question really is why wouldn’t you join a co-working space and spend part-time working in a vacation paradise?

Here’s a list reasons you might want to consider such a move (By Teresa):

First, jobs are becoming more portable.

Before, to live something akin to what I’m doing today meant saving up and quitting… a move that fewer and fewer are doing these days. Instead it’s becoming much more acceptable to take a hiatus, or to “work from the road,” and head to a co-working space abroad.

Why work in a co-working space?

A lot of the attraction for people is to be near others who’ve made a similar jump. We like to share printers and have others to talk to when it gets lonely or we want to go out drinking. So the reality is we’ve simply swapped one group of co-workers for another. The other thing we’ve swapped is the background, the surroundings we’re living in.

On top of that, it’s great to rent desks and be in a cooperative space where work is happening. People say they couldn’t do this, work in a career where they’re the only motivational point to get things done. But a secret you can use is to stay in a busy place, where you’d feel funny not getting anything done.

That space is great too, since I am able to ride my bicycle to work, and choose my own hours and friends with whom I see on the job. After making this work for a time, I saw location as the next step for transformation.

So I chose Thailand, initially. And that was fine. However, after having been there three months, I felt like it was getting stale. The crowd was ever-changing and I came to realize I didn’t really need those other people around me—they were becoming more a distraction than an asset.

I’m a professional and I do what I do, regardless of who else is working around me. It was this realization that led me to Medellin, Colombia. I wanted to be in South America, but it was a friend who turned me on to the slightly less touristy feel of a city on the rise. See what types of apartments are available if you lived here part-time.

What I love about being a freelance journalist in Medellin is that I still have access to some great co-working spaces, if I’m in the mood for that. What I have found, however, is that my preference is to set up shop in the coffee houses, popular here in El Pobado, where I’ve rented a fabulous apartment just walking distance from my “office.”

In his book The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich, Timothy Ferriss paints an intoxicating picture of a new generation of sun-kissed, barefoot entrepreneurs. Ferriss’s “New Rich” are business owners and freelancers like me who leverage their location independence to indulge in travel and adventure – which they prize more highly than material possessions.

Keep in mind, that book has some rather misleading information for your application, beginning with the title. We won’t begin to tell you that working a couple hours a week is anything like possible, from the start. However, with some smart allocation of resources, you can model a lifestyle which hinges on you doing what you enjoy the most.

It is true that travel remains the ultimate aspiration for Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000), and technological and financial circumstances have conspired to give us portable, lightweight lives.

We are “the asset-light generation”, who access documents, music, film and other media digitally, rather than in some material form, part of the sharing economy – also known as the “pay-as-you-live” market – further evidence that young consumers are increasingly concerned with “access” rather than “ownership”.

Which is handy, because ownership – especially of homes – is increasingly a pipe dream. So what are we hanging around for?

I packed my bags… and so will you. Maybe not to work, but to experiment. To get a feel for what’s possible. I’m here to tell you, anything is, when you get out here to see it.

Beware of the time differences, and make sure you don’t end up checking emails in the middle of the night, when your home-bound co-workers are still at their desks (I slipped into this pattern while in Bangkok). But these are luxurious “champagne problems,” which I’m quite certain I’ll always enjoy solving creatively.

One of the biggest advantages I enjoy today?

The dramatically lower cost of living, here in Medellin. Provided you’re not buying plane tickets every three weeks, you wouldn’t believe how much less you have to spend to keep yourself in a well-appointed lifestyle here. Eating meals out, fine dining in, (and that, in a really palatial apartment Click here, I enjoy museums, malls and majestic views for a tiny fraction (about one-third) of what it costs just to be in London.

And the community here is really great. Everyone I meet is warm and welcoming; as in many expat communities, bonds are rapidly forged and carefully nurtured.

So is it worth it?

I’ve always known that travel is good for the soul, but this experience has convinced me that it can also be good for your resume. It’s liberating to know that if I ever needed an escape, I know I’ve got a trip coming up in six weeks or less!

But I’m not tempted to permanently abandon life back home. That wonderful island will always be my true home. In fact, with family and friends back there, I need a scamper home, every few months just to “reset”. Home cooking and some reliable laundry facilities, maybe some new shopping trips at familiar spots, these are the things that give me the strength to set back out on a new mission, in a new country.

When you’re bouncing around, it’s easy to discover you have simply traded your old irritations for new ones. You don’t need to be in Thailand to reassess your priorities, overhaul your lifestyle and rethink your career; opportunity can be found much closer to home. Still, no place can compete when it comes to this perfect Medellin weather.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *