Digital Nomads Are Tourists

Digital Nomad, Traveller, Expat are just a few states that someone can be in at any one time. Yet it is not even official terms that governments in immigration and border control use like:

  • Citizen
  • Permanent resident
  • Temporary resident (other types)
  • Foreign exchange student
  • Worker (on temporary business visit)
  • Worker (on a special extraordinary ability permit)
  • Worker (humanitarian grounds)
  • Worker (unskilled labor)
  • Tourist
  • Refugee
  • Illegal Alien
  • And so on, and so on.

Digital nomad is just some made up term that could easily be in any of those ‘official’ categories. A digital nomad can be a temporary resident, a foreign exchange student, a tourist, someone on a temporary business visa or a citizen if they are nomading in their own national jurisdiction. However it’s common knowledge that once outside their own national jurisdiction, many are merely just tourists, living and working under the guise of tourism. The only way to break out of this is to go underneath other visa categories – temporary resident, working holiday agreements, start-up visas, freelance visas and so on.  Ironically, but only if you believe in the shallow definition that a digital nomad must always be on the move, you might think it difficult to comprehend a nomad who is also setting down roots to meet non Tourist visa arrangements.

One of the discussions that I’ve run into in the past is that a digital  nomad, to be considered one, must always be on the move.  They must not have roots.  They must not worry about all those pesky normie stuff that involve having any form of residency like bank accounts, rental contracts, tax numbers.

The problem here is that we have to function and live within existing systems of the worlds.  And of those systems is the Almighty Immigration and Border Control System. There is no way around it.  In my mind, I’m one of those carefree digital nomads.  But officially…I’m a tourist in Paris, I’m a temporary resident for non-taxation purposes in Makati, I’m a temporary resident for taxation purposes in Berlin, I’m a permanent resident in Canada, I’m a citizen of Australia, I’m a non-resident citizen of Australia visiting New Zealand and so on and so forth.

Even if you are a digital nomad couch-surfing it and going to those special Digital Nomad meetups, working in some cool co-working are a tourist.  You are on the same category as the sightseeing-on-a-bus, overpriced-hotel tourist types.  Unless of course, you figure out how to hack the immigration and border control system in place and find a way to make things work for you in the long term without being a complete slave to the visa systems in place in this world.

And by the way, I suspect that the nomads who are strict with the rule of constant movement probably are doing so out of complete necessity – in order not to overstay in their host country, they have no choice but to be on the move.  Where is the freedom in that type of life?

My current (personal) reading list and recommended readings on overseas life.

Below is a reading list of interesting books aimed at those inclined to live overseas.  They are available on Kindle, PDF, ebook, print formats.  Unfortunately, I don’t provide the links for these (otherwise, it will just be free promotion) but feel free to take a look and hunt these down!

Currently reading: Creating Freedom – Power, Control and the Fight For Our Future

I picked this up in Oxfam in Notting Hill. The book is pretty much new and only for a few quid.
I’m really interested in reading more on topics around freedom (or what we think freedom is), choice, logic, reason. It’s the reason why I am now finishing off this book called Descartes’ Error by Antonio Damasio.

Third Culture Kids – Growing Up Among Worlds

In London, I had flatmates that the book would consider ‘third culture’.  I’m not one, but I really wanted to gain an insight into this particular group.

Expat Women Confessions – 50 Answers To Your Real-Life Questions About Living Abroad

I bought this book when I left London to go back to Australia after living there for two years.  I was pretty upset at the time since I wanted to continue travelling but couldn’t and made the decision to go back to gradschool.  It ended up being a good decision.

I remember finishing this on the plane and on the final leg of the journey, got changed from my comfortable UK clothes into comfortable Australian-weather friendly clothes.  I still remember the old couple sitting next to me in the plane if I have done this before.

Your Career Game – How Game Theory Can Help You Achieve Your Professional Goals

After deciding to go back to Australia, I was really immersing myself in a lot of career-oriented books.  Partly due to guidance, but also a lot of the time it was for motivation.  During the time I must have read about five different books. This book takes on an interview format, interviewing corporate executives.  Some of the assignments that they have taken on involved overseas stints.  I wanted to gain some sort of insight as to what my life would be like if I went down this road and what I can do to mirror lessons learnt from their overseas stints.

The Global Expatriate’s Guide to Investing: From Millionaire Teacher to Millionaire Expat

While preparing to go overseas again while back in gradschool, I was also studying a financial certification (Claritas Investment Certificate) and was also studying CFA Level 1. I wanted to seek out personal finance books written from an expat perspective and this was one of them.


I have a number of other (printed) books that I want to share but I don’t have the titles with me right now since my library is at home in Australia. But will post a follow up entry once I can!

How I use Trello to organize long term travel as a digital nomad

Previously I wrote about how I organize long term travel and how I organized my move to Germany.  One thing I didn’t go into depth was how I use Trello to help with organizing these details.

Rather than go into wordy detail, it would be better to add some screenshots.

Organise one list per country, one card for each major item to look into

For each list (in this case, a country), I create a new card for each major item to research (such as Accomodation), visa type, and also for any important detail that needs to be taken care of.  For example, to live in Slovakia for a year, one of the paperwork details that I need to provide

Some countries require far more documentation. For example, WHV in Slovakia requires a letter of government support.

For each major item that requires a series of actions to be done, create a checklist

Anything that touches burecracy will end up having a corresponding website or PDF to look into, plus a translation if the content is not already translated.

This is important since details can easily chance, so when I create a checklist I usually link to the corresponding information.

Looking into the French micro-enterprise programme requires some further documentation to provide and look into.

For each country that I end up living in, a new board is created

This card is another example where checklists are useful. But notice that I have a new board just for this country.

Example of the paperwork required to apply for permanent residency

For each country that is my optimal choice, the list is moved close to the landing screen

Countries that are on my radar have a bit more research involved in advance.

For each country that is not my optimal choice, the list is moved away from the main landing screen

The detail on each card also states the main reason why I will no longer research them.

Now, I may change my mind, which is why I do not archive my list.

Other notes about my use of Trello

I don’t use it extensively for short term trips

Trello is good for long-term organization, but for keeping trip details for shorter trips I do not have much of a process since I am usually for minimal with the details.

I also prefer to have an offline/print version of my itinerary, and Trello has no way to export it to a print friendly format.

Not centralized

Trello is not the central hub for all info. I still have notes that I keep elsewhere. This is fine. For example, I may have a long conversation thred wtih a landlord but I would only want the final notes. I also do not want one place to hold all info.

Even though access to Trello is via accounts with 2FA, I still don’t hold all info on this site.

Not a lot of integration set up with other services

I don’t have any integration set up, but I may start looking for some tools to make populating the content on the board easier.

I haved used it (loosely) within a Kanban context

So, I am experimenting with the Kanban concept.  In a way, I have done so when I moved to Germany where all the research involved was in the list, then as soon as I had my visa then all of the list was converted into a board.  So, in a way, the research that I do in the lead up of obtaining the visa is the ‘manufacturing’ part and the ‘production’ part is when I implement it.

I also experiment with having Backlog, Doing, Done type of lists but I would rather organize the actions/research based on main topics of interest.

Trello is good for sharing certain boards with certain people.

For example, if I wanted to share my research in the lead up to a trip, I can share with certain people.

The downside is that Trello is a system where a lot of people are introduced to it via their workplace and so it takes a bit of time to get used to.  The upside is that it should be easy to pick up (compared to other alternatives out there).

It can be easy to forget about the other boards / other lists

Right now, I have a lot of other boards and lists floating around and I probably spend most of my time on a few boards.

I think this is fine – it’s interesting to see what my thought processes were a few months or a year ago and to see how my ideas and planning have changed over time.

Anyway, I would be interested to know how other people use Trello or if there are project management tools out there.

How I Organize Long-Term Travel

When I first announced that I was moving to Berlin, one of the first things someone said to me was “Wow! I wish I can just pack my suitcase and go like that“.  Sounds familiar, right?  So many people think that this is the case, and while it is the case for some people who literally can pack a suitcase, it is not so for me.

This post covers some of the top things that I do to organize long-term travel.

Balance preparation with being able to live in the moment

Take my recent move to Germany as an example.  While I really only spent 1-2 months in active preparations of the move to Germany (and by active, I mean, approaching landlords for apartments and sorting out my government appointments), I have always wanted to live there since 2009 and I started my initial research into Germany 16 months before my move.

What I have learnt, and this continues to be a learning experience for me, is to strike the balance of being prepared and being able to live in the moment.   On one hand, I want to avoid as much mishaps and issues as possible that can come out of due to lack of preparation.  Believe me, once something is overlooked, dealing with it while overseas can turn into one massive headache that can easily spiral out of control.  On the other hand, I don’t like to spend too much time simmering in some plan or idea that I forget to live in the moment.  I’ve done both wrongs in the past, and I am always trying to avoid stepping into further issues.  This is especially the case living in Germany, where doing everything is just set to Challenge Mode because of the fact that I can’t speak German.

While I was preparing to live in Germany, I was living in two countries – Canada and Ireland.  It’s easy to get caught up in the future that you forget where you are, and why you are doing this in the first place.

Trade-offs will now be a part of your life

I am constantly making trade-offs between living in the present, and being able to prepare for the future.

For example, you may have friends who won’t stop going on about how you should have joined them on that expensive trip.  Or coworkers that gush about their latest expensive purchase.

Now that I accept that I have to make trade-offs to continue living how I want to live, I am a lot more comfortable in saying no. It’s been a long time since I last experienced FOMO.

These trade-offs can be triggered by your budget – be it your money or your time.

I am constantly creating a new spreadsheet, or a new document when I need to quickly hash out a budget or an action plan if I am indecisive.  At least then, it’s better to make decisions on your own terms rather than someone else’s.

Use project management software

Yes, I use project management software to organize pretty much everything.  From a checklist of documentation requirements that I need for a visa application process, to other articles and blog posts of my target country, to random comments that I have in mind.  It’s all there.

To give you an idea, my setup is divided into major topics – such as housing and education – and finally countries.

A section may look like a scrum board if the scrum style is appropriate, otherwise they are usually divided by interest area.  For example, I have a section that I use which combines a mix of research, planning and brainstorming of the countries that I want to live in and the possible dates (let’s call this ‘International’).  Each is then subdivided into topic points – such as the application process of one type of visa, the application process of another type of visa, any bookmarks or snippets to look at and so on.

Before I started actively planning my move to Germany, I had a section in the ‘International’ area before I created a new area (simply called ‘Germany’) that is dedicated to my research and planning for moving to and living in Germany.

All of this is on typical software / project management software.

I can’t recommend a platform or application to use since I think that you should use the one that you are most comfortable in using.

Don’t listen to the checklist nihilists

I am a fan of checklists.

And yes, there are some people that don’t see the importance of them.  I am the complete opposite – I am constantly making checklists.  Even if it ends up being a duplicate or it ends up not being used.  It’s easy to make a checklist and it’s a good idea to get into this habit as it allows meto filter out the unecessary or bloated information and focus on the important and essential items.

Always prioritize the facts when moving to a new country

Moving to a new country is a daunting experience, especially when you intend to live there far longer than a tourist.  It is easy to be swept up by all the resources out there that is more aimed at the tourist and travel readership.  It is easy to be paralyzed with indecision.  It is easy to pretty much go around in circles, hopelessly, while you try to deal with a barrage of information.  Should you trust that forum comment from five years ago about what you can and can’t do on your visa? Should you live in that suburb, or this suburb?  And what about tax and insurance?

For me, my preference is to focus on the facts and tackle it.  If I don’t understand the terms of my visa, I do not go to social media.  Instead, I will usually look up the official and legal information behind my visa terms and conditions.  If I am facing a subjective/personal type of decision (ie where to live), I focus on the factual information about the place first.

I have found that prioritizing only the factual information has made managing the information load a lot better to handle.

Working Holiday Visa for Germany – Application Process, Documents, Banking, Housing

This series marks my experiences on my 4th working holiday visa for Germany and is written as an Australian applicant.  If you are from other countries with the bilateral agreement, you may also find this post useful.

I also have some posts of my experiences under the Working Holiday Visas for Canada (called International Experience Canada), the UK (called Tier 5 Youth Mobility) and Ireland (simply Working Holiday Visa).  It’s scattered all over my blog so please have a look at my earlier posts.

One main thing to keep in mind throughout the whole process

When I read posts from other applicants of the German working holiday programmes, there is a common theme emerging – and that is that the German immigration system will do the work for them.  Meaning that, all German immigration authorities have native command of English and that everyone knows what a working holiday visa is.

The truth here is the opposite.

It is completely up to the individual to ensure that they meet the requirements for the working holiday visa.  It is also up to the individual to ensure that they meet any other requirements to live and work in Germany – from making sure that the documents are correct to making sure to decrease as much miscommunication as possible.

With that in mind, feel free to continue on below for my thoughts around the application process for the German working holiday visa.

The Application Process

On the Australian Germany embassy website, Australians have the choice to either apply in the Consulate-General in Sydney or at the local immigration authority (‘Ausländerbehörde’).  Being based in Dublin, I decided to do my application at the Germany embassy in Dublin instead.  Another reason why I decided to avoid Ausländerbehörde was all because of their website.  When I logged in to do an online appointment, there were no appointments available (not even if I browse all the way to 2020) and I was sure that there was an issue with their system after trying on three different browsers. I gave up and decide to apply here in Dublin.

If you decide to do your application after arriving in Germany, make a note of what the next available slot is for an appointment by going to the Ausländerbehörde website.  From my experience in handling immigration bureaucracy (ie when getting my GNIB card here in Ireland), it is considerably better to research and try to get your paperwork and appointments ready in advance instead of showing up at the office and getting your information there.  Do not assume that there will be a spot on the day of your appointment, or that there is even going to be availability in the near future.

In addition, don’t assume that information will be delivered to you in English and that it will be 100% accurate.  I think that this comes from a source of naivety in people who the world is going to be functioning on their level at 100% English-speaking proficiency.  The reality is that, especially in Europe, English is not going to be the native language and so it’s better to assume that whatever information you get, or whatever interaction you do, it will not be in native English level.

You are required to make an appointment and is usually booked out for two weeks.  If you miss your appointment, you need to rebook again.


The documentation that you need in your application is pretty much straightforward and is outlined in the German embassy pages for working holiday visas.

One of the main areas of contention is around residence which was:
– Proof of main residence in Berlin
– Certificate of registration at the main residence or
– Rental agreement and written confirmation of occupancy from the landlord

I asked the embassy if it’s acceptable that I only show a booking for two weeks in temporary accommodation and they were fine with it.

A copy/paste of their answer is below:

Yes you will have to provide only the first 2 weeks accommodation in Germany for the VISA application.
Hotel / Hostel booking are accepted for this.


German Embassy Dublin

I am seeing some posts were others are going all the way to secure accommodation in Berlin as part of their application. For example, they would arrive in Berlin, go to Ausländerbehörd, sit there for a couple of hours to get confirmation that their real appointment is in 10 weeks, and during that time they’ll have the opportunity to do room viewings.  I did thought that perhaps there is an advantage for already being in Europe AND I am on a working holiday visa but I am aware of someone in Argentina who also went through the process at around the same time as I did and not seeing any issues with the paperwork.

Housing – moving from temporary, short-term housing to long-term

There are quiet a number of various residence options in Berlin and I have to admit that it has been a dream meeting the most basic residence requirement! Meaning that there is established infrastructure in place making foreigners seeking housing in Berlin very easy.  We are talking public transportation and all the different options and places that you have available to search for housing.

It is also possible to book for and pay for housing online on trusted, dedicated platforms where they make the effort to provide as much detail as they can on what to expect.

Overall, even though I didn’t need to book for months long accommodation for the working holiday visa application, I still had the option to do so safely and securely.

I think that Berlin is one of the leading hubs for expats / digital nomads, global / remote workers and so on.

Back to the paperwork.  Don’t forget that shortly within obtaining your long-term accommodation, you will also need to register with the town hall.  Check online for an appointment slot that is available.  In addition, there are documents that you need to take with you when you register.

One thing to keep in mind around housing is that if you require temporary accommodation to look for longer term housing, you do not need to register as a resident within two weeks of arriving.  I would recommend going for temporary housing while applying for the working holiday visa as this is enough.  Since it’s considered temporary, then you do not need get the additional documentation for residence.


A one year’s travel insurance is enough, so long as it covers Germany.  Certain visas may require specific types of insurance but a standard travel insurance is enough.  The reason being is that a working holiday visa is only temporary in nature.

One thing to keep in mind is that there is a difference between travel insurance and health insurance.  You can read more about my thoughts on this area here.


It is possible to open a bank account online and prior to arrival.  You can also authenticate your identity online and without needing to be in a branch.

There are also various loopholes when it comes to opening bank accounts.  It all depends on who you talk to, what type of account that you open and which bank.

Of course, you can also opt to go with other options that require in-person appearances.  Banks these days need to be customer-centric.  This means that banking services, should they wish to remain relevant in today’s modern world, also need to be available whenever and wherever the customer is.  Hopefully, we will see more of these practices rather than forcing customers to change their whole day’s schedule just to open an account or cash a cheque.


Once you have registered as a resident you can now apply for your unique German tax number (Steuer-ID).  This should be sent to you automatically after registering your German address.

Next part of the series…

Stay tuned for the next part of my German working holiday experience!

Luxury Beauty Tips for Digital Nomads and Travellers

That’s my haul from just one shopping trip…

Long intro / rant… skip this to my tips below!

Ever since I started travelling and working remotely, I seem to have developed a huge thing for makeup and skincare.  Much of it has been a change of habit.  I’ve very recently discovered YouTube make-up videos and since them, have learnt a lot about applying make-up.  When I was in Toronto, there really was very little for me to do (that was near where I lived anyway).  I therefore used to go out, maybe a few times a week, to go to the mall to shop.  I would go into a store, browse around, buy a face mask or some makeup.   The following week, I would go in again, browse around, buy a lotion or nail polish.  Next think I know, I have 8 bottles of nail polish, something like 30 skin care masks and months worth of hair care products.  Sure, I could opt to not go to the mall or not buy anything, but believe me, it was just sheer boredom that ended up multiplying with small purchases.  Even if I had opted to stay in, there was still the option to go online shopping.  I’ve mainly developed this just to get out of the house and go for a walk – but because of where I was living at the time in Canada, there were very little options to go for said walk.

When it was time to move overseas from Canada to Ireland, I ended up giving away quiet a few products.  It really wasn’t enough but that was fine.  Even if I ended up using my beauty and skin care products, I would end up refilling them.  Like that Lancôme haul in the photo!

Anyway, the following are some tips and advice around beauty / skin care for digital nomads / expats.  Enjoy!

Instead of a large brush, opt for a comb or those small detangler brushes.  I have two detangler brushes – one with a mirror compact mirror.  I recently bought this Tangle Teaser from Harvey Nicholls below:

If you are splurging on luxury brands, opt to get the gift set versions as they tend to be smaller.  While they won’t be good value for money they may be more convenient in being more portable.  I also find them to be a good introduction to a new line if you are new to the brand.

If you need more product, I always ask what size is available. Some brands only deliver limited sizes. Personally, I dislike larger product sizes – all I can think of is how annoying it will be when it’s time to pack.

Yes, definitely get those refillable travel bottles / containers.

I put all sorts of product in these – from hair spray to scrubs.

When purchasing foundation, opt for the ones delivering the foundation via a pump as they tend to last longer in regards to expiration dates. I very recently bought a Chanel foundation which is in a small pump and also have SPF.

Always go for palettes.  They come in a number of sizes and themes also.

For eyeshadow, my main issue with palettes is the eyeshadow fallout, so I usually clean around the edges after a few uses.

For lip palettes, there is the Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Palette as a good example:

Apparently you can make your own but I haven’t gotten to that stage yet. I’m pretty much a moth when it comes nice packaging.

Thin / small / compact is always better.

The higher-end brands tend to go for size and weight as markers of it being ‘luxury’.  For example, a common comment could be “It feels heavy…so it must be good!”.  I usually prefer the smaller/compact ones but at some point it becomes unavoidable when an eye cream you really want to use is in a heavy pot and you really don’t want to switch to a lighter pot…

Have mini serum / face masks at hand during long haul flights to moisturize the skin (and as a bonus, freak out everyone that walks past you).

Other items that find its way when I go on long haul flights – hand sanitizer, mini hand cream, mini face cream, lip balm, alcoholic wipes, perfume sample sprays, mini serum, etc.

Opt to use SPF for moisturiser and foundation – SPF 25 should be the minimum.  I previously used the Christian Dior Forever Perfect Foundation which has SPF 35.


Like above, look for options with dual benefits.  For example body shimmer with perfume. I recently bought the Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Shimmering Body Oil below which has the Tom Ford Soleil perfume scent:


You need to accept that there comes a stage when dragging along makeup tools like 10-set paddle brushes, packs of beauty blenders, face sponges, lash staplers, and so on are simply just too annoying to deal with.

Unfortunately…I bypass that stage after one month of settling in and my guilt peaks one month before moving when I realize how much I’ve manage to hoard.

Be nice to the beauty consultants so you can get samples 🙂 I always like to have small samples with me when going on short trips.

Compact everything.

Moving abroad is hard.

Whenever someone hears about my plans to move, they are usually taken back as to how quickly I can suddenly ‘make’ a decision.  The reality here is that I don’t tend to make quick decisions.  I tend to do a lot of background research into my options so that when the time arrives to make a decision, I am able to finalize a decision in what seems to be at ‘lightning speed’.

Right now, I am moving to Berlin.  I was talking about the maximum amount of suitcases that I need to pack.  Then the overall comment was that moving was as simple as packing a suitcase.  Not so.  Anyone who has ever seriously moved on their own, especially to a country where English/their own main language is not the main language for that country.

The other issue that irks me is the continued assumption that because English is a language that is widely used and adopted in professional and personal circles, that it’s the default and defacto standard in modern cities like Berlin.  Not so fast.  German is the default and defacto language used.  Sure if you are lost in Berlin and you need to find the nearest train station, then you’ll find someone who can help you.  But when you are poring over tenancy contracts, government websites, and so on, you will realize that English is merely just the guest language.  In this case, I’m looking forward to learning German in my time and stay in Germany.

Last but not least, the one thing that I’ve learnt so far is that moving is hard overall.  Even if you are moving to countries like the UK, Canada, the US, Ireland and so on there are still a lot of major and minor differences and nuances that you need to learn first.  I remember going to an event in Vancouver and someone made an offhand remark as to how Australia and Canada are the same and that because of this, moving is not that difficult.  I used to think the same – that moving to Canada was on the easy level.  But, not so.

Changing reasons for my travel

For a long time, I would usually plan my trips around a particular event and the event is usually an art fair or a tech conference or even better if it was both.  There was really only a handful of trips where I would just ‘go’ like a week in Marrakech. It usually worked out well – for example, in New York I would go to a few art fairs very quickly then have a lot of time spent just exploring the city.  In Monaco, I would explore Nice for a couple of days before heading out to Monaco.  But, the last time I did that was in Boston for a tech conference and I really was not happy with the experience I had then of exploring the city. I only had a couple of days off and ended up missing my flight so I had a large chunk of time that went missing.  By the time I arrived and checked in (it was in the historic Kendall Hotel at MIT since the conference was at MIT), I was too tired and cold to explore and ended up staying inside my room.  The conference started and on my days off in a city (that I wouldn’t be visiting for a long time again), I ended up spending most of it inside.  While it was all interesting, at the end of the day I was still inside a large conference hall.  Then, I had to rush off and catch my plane back to Canada.

So now, I am reconsidering how I usually plan.  I have with me a calendar of art and tech events.  I don’t mind planning my travel around art fairs, but honestly…I used to have a full schedule when it came to art fairs and by the time I exit one my mind is completely ‘full’ from the experience.  There are notable exceptions – like Art Basel or the Vienna Biennale – and I don’t think I will completely wipe away any notion of never going to these ever.  But right now, I am not as interested in going to “as many art fairs as I can!”.  My focus right now is trying to get as much of a genuine experience as I can from a city or culture.  There might be an art fair or tech conference thrown into it, but it won’t be the centre of my plans anymore.

All Roads Lead to Rome

There is an adage, “all roads lead to Rome” which has its roots in the “roads to Rome” as immortalized in the Milliarium Aureum monument.  The monument celebrates that many roads in Europe,  about half a million roads, radiates back to the ancient Italian capital.  Today the adage talks about a Golden Milestone taken into some sort of Ultimate Business Goal in which despite the number of many roads it will take to reach it, will eventually reach it.  There is even a paper written by researchers at a Finnish university that features that idiom:

Business models and business model change have drawn increasing attention from both researchers and practitioners across various disciplines, including the domain of entrepreneurship. However, even though the importance of business model innovation as a driver of firm performance has been widely acknowledged, empirical studies explaining the business model change remain limited. This study contributes to prior research by examining the effects of effectual and causation-based decision-making logics on the degree of business model change in the context of small and medium-sized enterprises in Finland. The findings of hierarchical regression analysis show that both causation and effectuation-based logics have positive effects on business model change, thereby highlighting the need for both strategizing and seizing of opportunities in business model development.

There is also a project featured on IEEE VISAP 2016 which visualizes this mobility statement and takes it even further by visualizing mobility in other countries and transportation systems around the Rome-equivalent.

Anyway, so why write about this…

I think that in our lives, we have at least one of our own personal, gilded Milliarium Aureum.  In this same token that Emperor Caesar Augustus erected it so that distances of the Empire are measured against it, we have our own where we measure our own life’s goals, plans and beliefs against it.  We have our own Milliarium Aureum which is our core personal beliefs and we build our lives in order to be able to act upon this.  Let’s say a core belief is to do no harm unto others, we therefore act upon our lives so that we do this and to varying degrees of intensity – like agreeing not to buy fast fashion from a company that uses child labour, or having spirituality that espouses this.

When I did coaching sessions, the coach would ask me leading questions as to why certain thought processes would come up for me.  And I would give an answer, like, “to be more independent“.  And then she would try to dig deeper and ask even more questions.  It sounds very easy but it’s very difficult to go through and I talk and think about aspects of myself that I otherwise don’t think about.  From these sessions, I found that independence is a term that is constantly coming up and I realize that is one of my Milliarium Aureum.

Checking one’s privilege. And where the biggest privilege is to f…

I somehow came across this post, The Privilege of Pursuing Financial Independence. The opening paragraph is:

Mr. Frugalwoods and I have made a lot of amazing financial choices, but the game is rigged. We were put in a position from birth to make these wise decisions and it’s not because we’re naturally brilliant people. Our financial advantages are the products of our socioeconomic status, our education levels, and most of all, the benefits we both had while growing up.

The entire post feels like a complete humblebrag, but at the same time, it’s a dose of reality in knowing that people are not on the same level playing field.

Continue reading Checking one’s privilege. And where the biggest privilege is to f…

Dealing with homesickness

I’ve written a few posts in the past on how I dealt with homesickness.

One of my methods was just acceptance. In 2012, I decided not to jump to another WH visa and just head home.  I just wanted to relax and just…go home to Australia.

Another method was to take myself out of social media and networking sites a few times. I found that social media has an artificial type way of keeping in touch where it’s all about how active someone is online.

When my sister went on holidays to New York in 2015, I would have budgeted madly to be able to go and luckily I did.

There were times when I could have easily just bought a plane ticket back ‘home’ but those thoughts have subsided.  Whenever I have those days, I usually resort to writing or listening to meditation.

Is this even real?

The biggest issue I have is having a ‘is this even real?’ type of moments.  I think it’s when I am in a new situation and my mind is still getting used to it.  Like, when I walk down a street in London and the sun is setting, I get the “Wow, I am actually in London” type of thought. Or the time when I am not sure if that particular memory of walking down along a brick building was in the Distillery District in Toronto or The Rocks in Sydney since they look so much alike.  Things start to meld, I get fleeting moments of homesickness only because I am reminded of some past memory.

This is just a reminder of how short your days, weeks, and years can be.  Make the most of it.

Long Term Travel and Personal Finance – Introduction to Cash, Banking, Payments and more – Part 1

I’ve learnt some lessons around trying to do banking, payments and transfers overseas and I just thought to share in this post what those lessons were.

This post is aimed at long-term travelling.  I won’t be touching financial products like travellers cheques, and so on.

These points, in my eyes, are more of an introduction which is great for those that are researching, or they are just starting out.  It would be great to get to a point when I can give advice after 10 or so years but I haven’t been to that stage myself yet!

Banking – opening an account

Please note that this post does not take into account offshore banking solutions.

The first time someone looks at the requirements banks have to open an account, it’s generally seen as a complete inconvenience.  How can you provide an electricity bill to open a personal account if you have only just arrived?  Why should you bill a lawyer to write a character reference for you when you open a business account?

My advice – do not worry if you think that you are unable to meet the requirements stated on their official documents and website.

I have found that banking rules for opening personal accounts tend to be liquid.  For example one of the banks required a character reference but I haven’t provided one.  Another bank will call for a household bill, yet again I haven’t provided one.  A tenancy agreement is also requested, but what happens if you are only there for the short-term? A quick call to the bank to explain the situation and they gave me the workaround for this.  However, even a phone call was not required when I was able to walk into my Canadian bank with my documents and cash to deposit and was able to open an account that very same morning.

Banking – closing accounts and gaining back long-lost accounts

Now, I’ve thought about closing accounts and even have attempted some account closure only to find out that the bank has not even closed it.  This was unbelievable when I found out that an account that I thought was closed actually wasn’t.  Luckily, there were no overdraft on that account or nor were there any fees added.

When you close an account make sure it is actually closed!  I had to reconfirm my identity with one of their customer representatives in order to gain access to that account. At some point I was asked to go to the branch, but since there were no branches nearby it was done over the phone.  They needed to get a manager in at some point.

In the end, I didn’t mind since it turned out that I’d prefer having a bank in that region. Even though I haven’t lived there for a couple of years, I have plans to come back from some time and at least I don’t have the hassle of opening a bank account there.

Banking – The case for having multiple bank accounts

There are quiet a few benefits in terms of having a local bank to where you are living.  For example, if you are going to be in the EU for a long time, it makes sense keeping an EU account.  I am also constantly making transfers in my home country bank which is why it is being kept despite having to pay account keeping fees.

There are also non-banking reasons to keep multiple accounts.  One of those reasons is the concept of maintaining proof of ties back to your resident country.  Local bank accounts, beyond the benefits of saving in international transfer fees, are also preferred in some situations.

Banking – The case for not having multiple bank accounts

Should I close my bank account when I move overseas?

If you maintain a bank account, it may be considered a secondary proof of tie in determining residency status for activities like accounting.  This is the case especially in determining the tax withdrawal rate of pensions.

Another case for closing a bank account is peace of mind – you are not worried about potential fees or issues surrounding your old bank account such as fraud.

Banking – you will most likely have at least two

I think the verdict is that most people who have moved overseas generally have at least two banks – one in the new country, and the second in their home country.

Banking – keep them up to date with your movements

It is very important that your bank is kept up to date with your movements, and that they have the most relevant contact information available.


When I first moved to Ireland, I only withdrew a small amount which turned out to be enough to last about a very frugal 3 months and by that time I had started building my savings into my EU account.  Therefore, I made budget-conscious decisions to limit my spend to this pot of cash that I had withdrawn.

I ended up using an international card to make a large purchase – which was my resident visa.  Ideally, I would have put all my expenses under the initial cash I withdrew but there was a time limit to get this visa and I ended up spending some of the budget on various doctor appointments having gotten sick in Ireland.

You may want to mirror my approach – which is to withdraw enough to last until you get your first payment or income into the local bank account.  This usually involves doing some forward planning, forward budgeting… and optimism!

I believe in maintaining a sizeable liquid base as an emergency fund.  So right now, I want to still keep to my initial cash withdrawal – yep, 3 months later I still have some money left! – and not touch anything until I have what I would deem an acceptable local emergency savings fund.


With PayPal you are required to have separate accounts for each bank account.

Due to vulnerabilities and attacks in the past, especially around social engineering, PayPal has various authentication requirements for logging in.  This means that you may have issues going through their secondary authentication page, such as identity confirmation via SMS, if somehow you trigger a suspicious login from a different location.  If your mobile/landline number is constantly changing then this is going to be an issue.

I’ve found that logging in using a localized VPN can help.  For example if you are usually logging in from Montreal, it makes sense having a VPN that can configure to a Montreal IP.  Connect to this VPN before going into and it can help not triggering any suspicious activity warnings.  This happened a few times, but it seems as it’s not 100% foolproof.  When my attempt to log in failed, I decided to remote into one of my computers that’s in that local IP but still I couldn’t log in.

If you don’t have a localized VPN or you are still not let through, the next step would be to contact support.  I’ve found that their email support is not helpful and that the other way is via their call centre.

Before I call, it’s useful to have as much details as you can.  They will ask you for various details to confirm your identity.  I’ve talked to a few representatives.  One, I think, seemed to have training against suspicious calls and was asking me for more and more details.  One person was somewhat helpful in that once I send through additional details to confirm identity, she mentioned about being able to ‘loosen restrictions’ around account login.  So, it seems that they can’t guarantee 100% you will have access to that account after the call but can ‘loosen restrictions’.  I remember being able to log in the day after.  The third person that I have talked to was completely hopeless.  She went as far as telling me that it’s not possible to log in from overseas and that I had to give whoever is in that country access to my account (ie password!) which goes against privacy. The phone call was ridiculous so I hanged up and tried again later.

PayPal verdict – only as a last resort

PayPal is more of a last resort, simply because it’s too difficult going around their various geographical barriers, their fees, lack of consistency with customer support and so on.


Unfortunately I haven’t been on the cryptocurrency boat and I wish I should have back in 2012 when I set up my first Bitcoin wallet.  However I can see how this is useful when you are travelling around the place to have access and use something like cryptocurrency.

Tips for decisions around international medical and travel insurance

Despite living in three countries since 2012, my total spend with travel insurance has been less than usual typical insurance that would cost about $1000 per year (well, based on the criteria that I have added). How was I able to keep my costs down? Below are some tips that I have to keep the costs down.  Please note that these tips may not apply to your situation since it’s completely dependent on factors like your situation or circumstance, your nationality, your employer, your current country of residence, and your travel plans.

Another thing to note is that the requirements of someone on a holiday or short-term travel is going to be different to my own requirements.

Research reciprocal health care agreements

On my first move (the UK), I didn’t purchase travel insurance knowing that as an Australian, I am under the reciprocal health care agreement.  I was living in the UK under the Tier 5 Youth Mobility, so I would be under this agreement throughout the duration of my visa.

Australians are covered under these reciprocal health care agreements for Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Channel Islands).  More details are found here.

Now, the details in the reciprocal health care agreements will vary.  For example, in Belgium you are covered for medical treatment by GPs and specialists but you’ll need to pay between 25% to 40% of the cost.  However, in Ireland your visits to the GP are not covered.  Since I’ve been to visits to the GP here in Ireland, I am able to make a claim to my travel insurance for those visits.

Are you covered by your employer?

Employer benefits can include health, medical, dental and even travel insurance.  Make sure to read the fine print – for example, one of the benefits included travel insurance but it was only relevant to permanent residents and citizens.  Therefore when I travel outside of the country, I purchase travel insurance issuing my residence as my new country.

Are you considered a resident and eligible for health care covered by the province / state / county / country?

If you have a home base to travel from, this means that you usually stay in a particular province, state, county or country for a longer period of time.  You may be considered a resident and thus you are eligible for certain benefits.  For example, if you are a resident in a province or territory for x months, you are then eligible for certain health care benefits.

Be very careful of potential crossovers with your insurance due to these health care agreements (and any other reasons that an insurance provider will deny a claim!)

As I mentioned above, as an Australian I have the reciprocal health agreement.  I am able to make a claim for GP visits in Ireland, however if those visits to the GP were in Belgium my claim may be affected.

Take into consideration any change of circumstance and do research up front

For about three months, I had triple coverage – I was covered under my 1) employer’s medical/health benefits, 2) covered under travel insurance and by that time I had stayed in a province long enough to be a resident eligible for 3) provincial health cover.

Of course, I can’t have known this in advance – I’ve had a change in travel plans which opened up new opportunities.

When it was time to renew, I decided not to renew.

If you think your circumstance is going to be like the above, you are better off purchasing insurance in smaller lots

Since I am covered under various other agreements, when I travel to a country or region that is not covered, I only purchase travel insurance in the duration the duration of the trip.

With all the avenues that you have, should you even look into travel insurance?

The thing here is that I am probably biased.  I haven’t had major issues that have ended up with me touting the benefits of travel insurance.

In additional, travel insurance should not be confused with international medical or health care insurance.

Conduct price comparisons of insurance plans

There can easily be differences in the price you pay depending on where you’re travelling to, who you are (your nationality), what you’re planning to do and what else you need insured. In the end, there is no standard insurance that’s going to apply for everyone.  Don’t rely on someone’s recommendation of a provider or a plan – take the time to read and understand the plan before committing to the insurance package.

And last but not least, before doing a final purchase, check to see what the limitations are for the travel insurance provider.  

Now let’s look at other options of minimizing your budget in travel insurance…

Build liquid reserves

Start focusing on developing a liquid safety net.  A highly liquid (ie cash in savings) is a good net to focus on.  For example, even if I am covered under various reciprocal health care agreements, the coverage still involves paying for public hospital care (in Ireland), or purchasing in advance and being reimbursed later.  Even if your passport was stolen (and even then there are conditions to be met) you still need the cash to cover accommodation and travel disruptions.

Focus on prevention

It is better to be taking preventative steps and build better situational awareness.  Similar to health and wellness, being proactive in prevention is better than dealing with a health or medical fallout.  Wear your seat belts and don’t drink and drive/swim.  Eat better, exercise, go out in the sunshine.  Don’t walk into large demonstrations.  Don’t flash expensive stuff.  Whenever I change locations (ie hotel to taxi) I do The Check which is to check that I have my phone, wallet and passport on me.

Know that travel insurance providers only have the typical traveller in mind

If you are an expat, doing long-term (ie 10+) travel or anything like that then you are not the typical traveller they have in mind.

It is also dependent on travel preferences.  Someone going on a $8000 cruise will definitely want comprehensive travel insurance.

Ultimately…insurance also depends on you.

Right now, the way that I have set up has provided me ‘just enough’ piece of mind while maintaining my current budget.  However, my life circumstance and situation may completely change.  I’ll see how things go for the time being!


Bloating The ‘Digital’ in Digital Nomad


That was a part of my setup about a year ago.  It also doesn’t include a small box I had with smaller electronics, two keyboards, three mobile phones, two Arduino kits, a Raspberry Pi kit, a soldering kit, a printer, Xbee wifi kits and a lot of cables.

A bit after that I have another 21″ monitor – I’ve moved houses since that photo was taken so my desk was a lot bigger.

Edit: I’ve since moved and have shed quiet a bit of gear including giving away a few laptops.  But the really light 19″ monitor is great for hauling around – if only it was foldable though..

Starter tips to find a remote job if you have no remote experience.

Remote work comes very naturally to me. I was 11 years old when I had my first ever remote ‘job’.  This was to be a graphic designer for a Pokemon fan website.  I remember the moment when I wrote my ‘cover letter’ email on Yahoo and the thrill of getting a reply back.  Sure this wasn’t paid, but it was fun! And from that age, I was very comfortable with remote teams – collaborating with designers and developers via an online community since I was around 12/13 year olds.  I had built up an online portfolio of work and by that time I was 16, I started my freelance business (officially, including sole-trader status ) with my first paid work.  In my early 20s, I founded an online/web startup and I continued on freelancing even while moving to and travelling across many countries.  Since those early days, I’ve had so many remote positions – from full-time employee, to freelancer, to consultant, to operating my own company and startup.

Much of the advice that you find online in seeking remote work mirrors to the kinds of stuff that I did in my teens.

  1. Build an online portfolio.
  2. Develop your professional networks.
  3. Develop your band online (mine was under various names – “The Noire”, “Saint Agency”).
  4. Learn to operate under a business (in this case, I applied for my ABN at age 16).

All of these, I’ve learnt organically. Just go right in there and do it.

However, the following below are further tips and advice for those who have no remote job experience.

#1 Contribute to online communities

Online communities are a good way to establish your profile and learn how to work with others online.  Since the activities that you do in-office will be replaced by online tools and platforms, it helps to learn how to flourish and contribute in online communities.

#2 Work on your writing and online communications

Much of what you communicate will be in writing.  It is very useful work on your online writing skills.  At the same time, what is interpreted online can be different to what you intended as you type your responses.

#3 Show your personality online

Your hiring manager will most likely scope out what is available online about you. Make sure your portfolio is up to date, set up a domain with your full name and publish a website as your main online ‘hub’, and make sure your relevant profiles are all linked from this website.

Even if your work doesn’t require a portfolio or website, it helps to have all these online.  It’s a good icebreaker when you join new teams – since there won’t be that much ‘watercooler’ type conversations for others to get to know you, something like your own website is useful.

#4 Start developing skill sets of a remote worker

It doesn’t matter if you have worked in x for many years.  Being a remote worker will involve developing new skill sets and you must be able to take and board and learn these.

Some of these skills are going to be new and/or relevant to a certain industry while others are going to be transferable.  Transferable skills include:

  • Being a good remote worker means being able to work with a variety of people. Your teams are most likely not going to be in the same city as you are in, will not have your language is their primary language, will have very different culture and lifestyles as you are, will be a variety of individuals.
  • Being a good remote worker involves being a self-starter, self-teacher and an independent worker.  There are going to be certain personality types that will find full-time remote work not suited to their preferred work/personality type, and that’s fine.
  • Similar to freelancing, having excellent time and task management skills is important as you are largely working on your own and need to be disciplined in being able to work and delivering your tasks.
  • Flexibility to adapt to a team’s existing processes.  Processes and documentation are pertinent in remote teams since written documentation is one of the main ways to deliver information.  There may also be manual/automated task management tools and processes being the norm.

#5 It’s about how and what you can contribute rather than the remote aspect of the role

At this stage, remote work is still seen as a niche, a company perk, or somehow there is something about working remotely that transpires a lack of trust in some organizations.

I find that those wishing to switch to remote work tend to focus too much on what the company can offer them – a remote job.  Rather, job seekers should instead continue to focus on what they can contribute to the role and to the company.  Job seekers should only approach the remote aspect as an operational/logistical issue.  It is like the approach that I’ve seen from those that require work visas – rather than focus entirely on what the company can offer them (a work visa in their desired country), visas should be seen as a logistic/operational concern and that the primary focus should be on what the job seeker can contribute to the company.

Making your own definition of digital nomadism

On moving

Since 2014, I have lived and worked in five countries – the UK, Australia, Canada (Vancouver and Toronto) and now Ireland.  I don’t uproot myself every month or so, but instead opt to live in a place for months at a time as my home base.  From there, I would travel out to different countries and cities.

You set your own agenda – you can be as boring or as adventurous, you can stay in a place for a few days or a few years.  It’s not a race to go to the most places in one year.  Digital nomadism is a marathon, not a sprint.

On planning

I am a very meticulous planner, which ironically allows me to skydive right into a major decision that others may see as very risky.  My planning and preparation allows me to take risks like being able to move to a new country next month.  The amount of planning, and preparation that I do allows me to go to a booking site and book a ticket to move to a new country that same weekend.  So on the surface it looks like spontaneity…but really it isn’t.

When you sit down to plan and prepare your life, you have the ability to take further control of your own life and your definition of what it is like to be a digital nomad.

On careers

I largely worked remotely as a consultant and as a bona fide full-time employee.

One of the genuine concerns that has been at the back of my mind, and I’m sure it could be in yours, is potential career risk.

My first overseas move was to Canada in my early 20s.  While in Canada, I signed a couple of major contracts for my work back in Australia and I was also freelancing remotely.

The second was the move from Australia to the UK.  My contract had ended and I moved the following year.  I had some confidence in my cashflow as there were client work that could be done remotely and it had to be remote anyway since it was on the other side of Australia.  But they didn’t like that I was now on the other side of the world.  Unfortunately, Australia hasn’t warmed up to the notion of remote work that on the second time I was offered a new position that could be done remotely (and the organization also advocated remote work) it was retracted when they found out that I would be overseas.

Other than the two examples from Australia, my career has definitely flourished in tangents unimaginable should I have stayed in Australia. I have exposure to new industries, new clients and customers, new work cultures, new ways of life and of work I have absolutely no regrets leaving.

I am not saying that Australia is a bad place to be.  But I have the capacity and the privilege to do all this, so why not?

When you jump into this type of lifestyle then you are opening up to new opportunities, new experiences and new challenges.  You define your own version of what is career success.

On finances

Having made some financial mistakes in the past has helped me grow into a better person when it comes to managing personal finances and investments.

Digital nomadism is an expensive activity and requires being able to put together and customize various pieces together.  And those pieces are definitely going to be personal finance and investment related.

Luckily for me, I enjoy reading and learning about this but for others, it’s either a complete bore or some sort of necessary evil.

For me, my digital nomadism has sacrificed a certain level of financial stability that I could have very much gained in the past 10 years.  Is it a deal breaker? Well, it’s at a level where I am aware of this potential issue and I am actively seeking out to learn more and educate myself.

I’m also confident that I am able to reach my financial goals.  Although there are some days where I want to just make things easier…

The key here is having a personal finance compass – to solidify and be aware of long-term goals, to continue to pursue it, and to be aware of straying away from such goals.

Defining your own digital nomadism

Am I a typical nomad? No, not really.  In my suitcase there are designer dresses, a large monitor screen for my work, half a suitcase filled with shoes that I will probably only wear once. So no, I’m not the minimalist backpacker type.  I draw the line when it comes to heavier items like homewares, books.  I define my own ‘nomadism’ but that’s OK.

Musings on Life Scripts and Lifelong Goals

I have moved in and out of so many social circles.

I feel like I play the part of an observer, and I observe these circles.  I observe what is socially acceptable, what is unacceptable, what is desired.

And it changes depending on where you are, how you grew up… basically the building blocks of constructing your social reality.

What’s really crazy is that due to many factors out of your control, your reality is already shaped.  If your ancestors decided to migrate to Scotland, rather than Wales, your parents decided to send you off to boarding school, or some other human-level decision made all have the ability to change your social reality.

I was thinking about the social construct of “The Dream” and how it differs yet still share commonalities.  For example, popular notions of what is thought to be The Australian Dream, The American Dream, and The Canadian Dream all lead to some level of real estate investment, consumerism and the focus on individualism.

And yet, these Dreams have subtle differences.  Take suburbs for example.  If you have never lived in Montreal you are not going to be familiar with the notability around Westmount.  If you have never lived in London, you are not going to have the awareness of the name “St John’s Wood” evokes. For South Africa, it is Sandhurst.  And so on.  And yet many individuals (and in turn, families) completely mold their entire life for the sheer psychological thrill of living in this areas.  Sure, maybe they will construct various artifacts to rationalise this.

The same goes for even the small decisions in life.  Eventually, everything adds up.  Eventually things decay.  Even a primarily home real estate decays … or depreciate in value hence why it is not considered to be an investment by asset managers.  And yet it’s one of the most powerful or at least common ‘scripts’ that can take over our lives.

And yet, I can’t bring myself to the reality of this.  Why? One of my long-term and lifelong dreams is to be able to live in at least four main geographical regions spanning the world. The desire to enact on this script is strong enough that it’s the every day driving force that helps pushes me to do what I do.  If today is not helping me get closer to that goal, then it’s a day wasted and a day lost.  If I ever find myself veering off this script, then I need to get back on that path and it needs to be ASAP.  If something is happening in my life that is negatively affecting my ability to reach this goal, I take that away from my life.

I think it’s very important to have these truly lifelong goals, otherwise it’s so easy to just give up when things get tough.

And on that note, once I have a taste of what it’s like to be on the road on these types of goals… then it gets easier and easier to add more lifelong goals.

Trips of note during my 1.5 year stay in Canada

This is another 2016 round-up entry but this entry is more focused on travel.  I also realized that I have been really quiet in keeping up to date with my travel blogging.  I don’t have a personal Facebook or Instagram account and I have steered clear (for the most part) sharing anything remotely personal on Twitter.  In this case, I’m just going to do a round-up post over the past 1.5 years.

Below is a notable list of trips since I moved to Canada (May 2015 to October 2016):

  • New York 1 – for the 2016 fashion week and to catch up with my sister
  • New York 2 – art fairs
  • New York 3 – even more art fairs
  • Boston, Mass – for a conference at MIT
  • Miami, Florida – checking out the art scene, bought a bit of the local art
  • Las Vegas, Nevada – for a conference
  • Seattle, Washington – for a conference
  • Somewhere in Washington state – for the 4th of July celebrations!
  • Waikiki, Hawaii – week-long holiday
  • Vancouver, British Columbia – lived here for a short while
  • Toronto, Ontario – lived here for just over a year
  • Kelowna and Okanagan Valley, British Columbia – checking out the wine region
  • Sun Peaks, British Columbia – holiday
  • Niagara, Ontario – the falls!
  • Wasaga Lake and Simcoe County, Ontario – first time I’ve encountered the great Ontario lakes! And yes there is a beach on this massive lake.
  • Stratford, Ontario – went for a Shakespeare festival and their high street/downtown core reminds me so much of the town that I grew up in!
  • St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador – all day layover
  • Dublin, Ireland – helloooooo Europe!

I didn’t go to the other main Canadian cities (Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City) since I have already visited in my first great Canadian trip of 2010-2011.

I was also going to visit Chicago for an art fair and even had my accommodation (not flights) booked, but decided against it.

In the end, it has been an interesting time.  I wish that I was able to experience more of the Canadian lake areas during the spring and summer.  Cottages are a pretty big deal in Canada!

Another activity that I didn’t do was anything to do with snow like skiing.  The last time was in Whistler several years ago and honestly, I haven’t looked back since then.


Tips and inspiration for those on short-term, temporary work/resident visas

Yes, there are short-term six and twelve month visas available for those that are looking to experience the world without the uber short term country hopping.  Australians applying for the under-30 visa in Ireland can work for up to 6 months over a 12 month span under the Irish Authorization.  If you are from the Czech Republic then you can only be a resident in Canada for 12 months under International Experience Canada.  These types of short-term visas are available as part of a youth bilateral agreement set up between two countries.

If you are the type eligible under the types of visas that I mentioned (and not just restricted to Ireland or Canada, we are talking about the youth bilateral agreements that have been set up) and you are interested in maximizing your time under these short-term visas, then read on!

Think and plan for the long-term

Even if you are on a short-term visa, you may have the opportunity to jump on board to other categories that will allow you to experience life in that country.  For example, if you can only be in Canada for one year under IEC, make sure to maximize that time spent by ensuring that it is full-time and under the National Occupation Code.  That way, it will help increase your chance of obtaining permanent residency by entering under the Canadian Experience Class stream where the requirements include one year’s experience.

Even if you are pretty sure that you are only there in a matter of months, it helps to sit down and spend a bit of time researching what the potential long-term options.  At least you won’t regret not being prepared if you do decide that you want to live in the country for a longer period.  It’s much better to have this option than to be without.

Find out what the options are for remote work – and then go on site

If your specialization is in areas like digital and online marketing, SEO, online copy writing, customer and technical support, web and front-end development, administration, copy writing, design, and product management then there are options to conduct remote work.

Since you are on a short-term visa, there may be the added difficulty of gaining a foot in the door for large companies and establishments.  In this case, you can look into start-ups, the creative industries, small businesses and sole-traders based in the target country to get your foot in the door.  That could be winning over contract or permanent work for them remotely followed by the option to be on site, interning but with the intention of obtaining a job offer before arriving on site, or providing some sort of arrangement that will allow you to be involved with their business before arriving on site.

The approach would be similar to a freelancer winning over new clients or someone new to the industry.  First, they may get you to do a short sample and if what you provide also helps with their business then there is the opportunity for more than followed up by being there on site.  This also goes for the business since they can do some of product trial where the product is what you can bring to the table for them.

Get involved with start-ups and creative projects

I see a plethora of start-up companies seeking out interns or volunteers.  The key item for you is figuring out a way to close the deal – going from being a remote intern or volunteer to going on site and being paid.

There is a chance of this being more of a gamble though. You will need to be upfront and you need to have a very clear exit strategy.  I had an Italian friend that went through the unfortunate situation of getting promises of an internship only to have the opportunity disappear when he arrived in London.  This benefits both parties as well since they need to be clear on what the forecast is in terms of hiring and recruitment.

Try to begin your introductions before you land 

Previously, I’ve written a couple of articles with tips on how you can prepare before landing – on preparing a CV for relocation and on applying for professional volunteerships.  You can also go through Eventbrite and Meetup calendars to see what events are occurring so that straight away, you can land on your feet and that you are networking straight away.

The main challenge is the time constraint of a 6 month or 12 month visa.  Relationships take time.  You do the introductions, arrange a face-to-face meeting, and so on.  Some have taken the liberty to travel as a visitor first but may be challenging if you don’t have the budget to make cross Atlantic flights…

There are online communities like LinkedIn and Slack where you can build up that rapport online.

Research what state and federal public resources are available to you

This is somewhat similar to my first point regarding finding out what the long-term opportunities are available to you.  There may be public resources that you have access to once you officially become a valid temporary resident.

Another item is that since much of these youth visas are due to bilateral agreements set up between two countries, find out what other bilateral agreements are also available in areas like the health care system.

Find ways to bring your work with you, wherever

While the temporary visas provides you with the opportunity to gain global experience with a local company (and to also experience the local work culture), it also provides you with the opportunity to live there for a longer term if your only other option are short stay types of visas.

Now you may not want to have to go through the motions of applying for a new job each year.  It’s stressful.  The other options include diversifying your income streams so that it’s not dependent on the one country, seeking out remote companies, freelancing and growing your own business, or seeking out opportunities with companies that contain multiple headquarters.

Being on your own in Sweden and communicating with a company based in Australia is not the same as experiencing life working and living in that country for a local company.  Maybe it works for some, and not for others.  I feel that it is always seriously worth a try deep-diving into that country’s culture as much as you can.

And last but not least.. be on the lookout for potential curveballs and mishaps

Taking six months or twelve months out of your home country can be a big move.  The time spent is so short that you may be overlooked for opportunities since there will be people who simply assume that you are only there as a stopover before moving on.  Not only that, but it usually takes months for someone to settle into a new role – and by the time you are settled it looks like you may be on your way.

Moving countries can be very exciting but it can put a bit of a shock on your system.  Even moreso if a curveball occurs.  When I first moved to the UK, I was a victim of fraud and came at the worst time ever – right before the Olympics when the rental market was about to be squeezed by the major event.  A friend had to seek out medical help, followed by a fight with his insurance company regarding their policies.  And you read articles on expats finding themselves on quicksand due to the Turkish coup, or people with long-term uncertainty due to the Brexit.  However, and I really don’t want to scare anyone away from doing this, preparation is always, always your friend in these case.

Have these tips helped you?  Do you have advice of your own to share?  Feel free to comment below!

Thanks for reading.  If you are looking for advice or have suggestions to offer for potential posts feel free to email me.

Please note that I am not a migration consultant.  If you have specific questions related to you only, please consult the relevant officiated resource, or find a registered migration consultant or seek out legal advice.