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!

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…

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!


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.

Signing up to ExpatGenius


Since 2012, I have been involved with the expat online communities and blogging about the process on this website.  For me, I generally like to publish blog posts – allows me to write things out, while at the same time help others.  Much of it has been to the side in my free time, but I have been thinking about how I can monetize this.

The first idea was some sort of international recruitment type of agency but with a focus on the youth work visa arrangements. Then, I had another that was more of a concierge type of service for highly specific items like getting a VIP invite to an art fair, or finding a tax accountant with knowledge of bilateral agreements.

However in one of the LinkedIn groups that I belong to, I came across a startup that has been launched very recently called Expat Genius. It is a peer-to-peer marketplace and network connecting expats with locals.  It’s currently in early beta stage right now and I decided to try out what being an ‘Expat Genius’ entails so you can read my profile here.  Since it’s beta stage, they are soon releasing a few other features which I’m excited to learn more about!  Setting up the profile is quiet streamlined.

Ever since I posted my profile and offering my services aimed at expats/relocations in Canada, Britain and Australia I have had several responses and questions back – however these responses were outside of the platform and occurred on third-party sites.  The thing here is that a few of these want migration and visa consultancy services and is something that I am not registered to do as it involves answering legal questions that is specific to them.  ExpatGenius does offer legal and tax services but these are only reserved exclusively to professional lawyers and tax accountants.  What I do when I get a response back outside the platform is that I get them to seek out legal counsel for their own situation and once they get to the stage where their visas/immigration is all sorted out, that is when I or an ExpatGenius can come in. However, there may be the opportunity to come in the early stages – for example, if someone requires advice adjusting their profile to the target country market.

Another item that I have in mind is the blur between doing something that is ‘contained’.  For example, if I am assisting someone with their CV or developing their online profile, it does not necessarily mean that I recommend them.  I’m not sure if this is going to be a big deal, since the times where I have helped someone with their CV or profile, I would usually also recommend them since I would already know that person.

KYC (Know Your Client)

Another reason why I decided to go with a platform is that it helps decrease the potential risk of running into anyone wanting to commit migration/visa fraud.  There is an underbelly in that there are scams operating around the whole visa industry especially around high-value countries like the UK and Australia.  In an earlier post, I wrote about being in the cross-roads of a college doing visa fraud as a witness. I don’t want to run into those willing or encouraging to take part in fraud and there are also those that exploit out of greed.  The migration/border security folks do as much as they can to stamp it out, as is the case with this college, but some can fall through the cracks.  Therefore, I’m only working with those that are verifiable and is the reason why I’d prefer a platform like ExpatGenius. I am also sure that across the whole process of them obtaining their visas (if they have not done so already) it would nonetheless help clean up the stream for the aspiring expat.

I will give this a try, then I may end up switching to being a customer of their service!  It looks like they require people to either be the Expat (one who needs the service) or a Genius (one who offers the service).

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.

Reflection: Moving countries, moving industries, moving job roles and on 10 year plans.

Mid last year, I did the three toughest things that you can do as a job seeker – move countries, move industries and move job roles.

This whole process was incredibly difficult.  There were a number of times where I second-guessed myself, even wondering if some part of it is delusional.  However even if it was, I would consider it the entrepreneur kind of delusional where you just know that it’s going to happen in some way, shape or form.

Moving countries

After spending most of 2014 thinking that I’ll be landing in Sweden, I decided that the most practical step was Canada.  Not only was a temporary two-year work visa available for me, but the path to permanent residency also looked straight-forward.  It was an English-speaking country, and I already travelled in the country (for a few months).  I ended up spending a few months in Vancouver, going to two one week conferences/events that I had already planned to go months before and then moved to a bigger city, Toronto.

I found that while the job market in Vancouver was quiet good, the housing availability there was the downside.  As soon as I saw what the rental market was like in Toronto, I made the decision to move only two weeks later.

The decision to move to Toronto ended up validating.  Not only am I still here but I have also travelled a bit outside of Canada and to the east side of the US.  Not only that, but the flight and travel opportunity to Europe is better.

Moving industries

In the lead up to and during the move, I somehow managed to move industries, twice.  Once in private banking and wealth management and another in software.

Industries can only be classified as locations.  So while the former was mainly US and Europe, the latter was primarily US and Canada.

I experienced ‘industry culture shock’  for the first time when I moved from Australia to the UK.  I went from working within major events and festivals, was known as a founder for a creative industries startup … then the following year, I was working for a cause as online marketer for a medical education and global health charity organization and my startup was floundering.

The second time this time, I still got ‘industry culture’ shock but to a lesser degree.

Moving job roles

Again, I have done this twice in the lead up to the move and during.  Once as an Analyst to research and compose briefs (in the finance sector) another as Customer Success which was more into testing/QA/user support rather than the account management spectrum.

The former involved working with UK/European colleagues.  The latter was primarily Canada and the US.

The culture associated with the two industry and job role moves was as different as night-and-day.  Completely, unmistakably different.

In a short space of 1.5 years I have managed to move countries (once), move industries (twice) and move job roles (twice).

Where to now?

Other people, well at least my parents, probably think that I’m some sort of job-hopping, country-hopping career rabbit – of the Australian pest variety.  It is so difficult to hide who I really am.  Maybe I can hide it for a short while, but I’ve lasted a day or two before I realise that there really is no point.

This ‘chaos’ has been all planned out since I was 20.  Even years earlier than that.  I remember once, in the library, writing down my plans to freelance while travelling around Europe.

I have been implementing my plans to do this – to live and work around the world and with a time horizon spanning for 10 years.  From 2011 right through to 2021.

What would be your 10 year plan?  And are you actively implementing it?

I find that, once I get to the 5 year mark, then the 7 year mark, then the 10 year mark…who knows, maybe we can get up to 20 years or more.