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Digital work in return for lodgings and food?


by @tuesdaygroup | 5yr  | 18 comments

Hi Everyone,

Iโ€™m myself a digital nomad. So this is a nomad 2 nomad question

It seems to be a popular trend for people to live and work on local farms in returns for daily meals and lodgings. (Southern Portugal)

Typically for 1-3 months periods

My Question
Iโ€™m just purely throwing out an idea here. But would any digital nomads be interested in a similar deal ?. Digital work in return for lodgings and food??

Im interested to hear peoples feelings on this one, be it good or bad! I understand this wouldnt be for everyone but a might be appealing to others?

Thanks for reading my question. If any nomads are interested right off the bat feel free to drop me a PM for further details.

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@jyarnallschane | 4yr

Very interested in this - but I would expand this outside of just digital work. There are housesitting websites that are already doing this, but think there could be a market for more fluid, flexible Digital Nomads. Currently I am staying in Interlaken with a great host, and in exchange for free housing (after helping to pay for utility bills), I have to take care of two goats. Max time commitment is 1.5 hours per day, then I spend the rest of my time working or hiking in the Alps. Would love to find more places like this, and my host is looking for more Digital Nomads after I leave. Her motivation is to have some flexibility in her life so she does not have to worry about the goats all the time, but also really likes sharing the house with others. http://verabeetschen.com/

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@jacobjay | 4yr

I host quite a few couchsurfers, and whilst many have had luck doing WorkAway or WOOFing, an equal number have been escaping a terrible experience in which their labour was taken for granted or worse.

Such volunteers need a way to try out (and to potentially escape), for the benefit of both sides. But in the same spirit as couchsurffng, I believe that there has to be more to the experience, of exchange.

Itโ€™s true that for many digital nomads their time is just worth a whole lot more than board to even consider it, even if you discount the value of the social aspect. Arguably (and as @tuesday said) itโ€™s an arrangement more suited to those just starting out or going through tough times.

Yet arenโ€™t many of us seeking new experiences and skills? So it seems by far the most value is the potential for wider exchange and learning. If a host can provide more than just board then I think itโ€™s an arrangement that would appeal to far more of us. @ivankaraman is bang on that thereโ€™s a business angle (and I look forward to seeing what might come out of it ;)). https://jobbatical.com/ is another interesting example. BTW thereโ€™s a thread about finding biz partners on here, and the principle of a volunteer and a host actually working together, could help lead to the formation of solid partners and relationships.

Iโ€™m actually planning to offer some work/board exchanges for several roles at my next nomadbaseโ€”community manager and artist or developer in residence. Beyond board, as both these roles involve some uncommon skills, I figure that if training is also provided the exchange has a fairer balance.

This would be more akin to some of the โ€˜jobsโ€™ offered on the volunteering sites, e.g. a volunteer provides labour to help build a house, and (ideally) is taught the process at the same time.

But targeting DNs isnโ€™t necessarily the way to find the โ€˜labourโ€™, they/we already know a lot and will evaluate the value more directly as this thread is suggesting; thereโ€™s lots of other people who may yet become DNsโ€ฆwhether knowing it or not. So as DNs mking such offers, perhaps we can propagate the philosophy and lifestyle by reaching out to those others and give them an opportunity to join the foldโ€ฆ

@reboramuriel Havenโ€™t seen worldpackers before, good site, there are quite a few others (that I canโ€™t remember right now, although Escape the City has a cool little job board) except they generally seem limited by the fact they only have a few organisations participating, rather than individuals. Itโ€™s great that as somebody with a specialised skillset youโ€™re interested in doing such work/board arrangements! Iโ€™m seeing some opportunity for those of us with such skills, in suitable places we might be able to tutor or offer paid courses teaching those skills, but I suppose thatโ€™s something for another threadโ€ฆ

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@ivankaraman | 4yr

Hey lovely nomad folks!

So, YES, I think the ideaโ€™s great! TL;DR: I personally did it and loved it (in Cambodia a year ago), and Iโ€™m also considering creating a business in this fashion (but with a twist).

A lilโ€™ back of background. Iโ€™m a sworn freelancer, 6+ years, ex academic (ghost)writer now turning copywriter for the startup/creative/DN community. Started travelling like crazy about a year and a half ago, but spent only half that time on the road.

About my experience, I was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for a month in February 2015, after starting the โ€œtrueโ€ digital nomad dream with Thailand the prior 2 months. So, I find myself in this amazing backpacker hostel, where I befriend a crazy Italian countrymate volunteering there.
After a bit of mediated talks with the owner, I start doing some very basic SMM (writing posts on FB) for the hostelโ€™s page and flyering some 2 hours/day (a great way to see the city and approach chicks, btw), in exchange for a bed and unlimited beer at the rooftop bar. Bring it on! Funny thing is, at one point, while waiting for a client to pay, I had -4 USD in the whole world, (had my bag with ~ 3000 USD of stuff inside stolen back home, just before the trip). The volunteering deal actually saved my life.
Highlight? I felt a part of the hostelโ€™s โ€œfamily,โ€ made of great locals and super-cool Western volunteers. Best month of 2015!

Now, about the business thing, I totally agree with @reboramuriel. Itโ€™s human nature to share and to enjoy being part of a team. As a DN, I sometimes feel alienated when working alone. Coworking spaces help, but again, the people there are all onto their own thing.

So, I was thinking: what about an โ€œoffice couchsurfingโ€ variant? Companies offer you a desk for free or in exchange for technical work (e.g. write a few blog posts describing our corporate culture, or tweak our landing page design a bit, because we donโ€™t have the time now). Itโ€™s a win-win, with the value added that both you and the team benefit from networking and new perspectives shared over a coffee.
This could also be an alternative to freelance marketplaces (e.g. upwork), now made more personal, โ€œteamworkyโ€ and local.

Any thoughts? If itโ€™s interesting enough, Iโ€™ll make a new thread, eventually.

One love from Russia. I love every single one of you crazy lifestyle designers <3

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@reboramuriel | 4yr

Definitely interesting!
It can be nice to travel around with less, if youยดre getting a desk where you are going, then you can probably travel lighter!
And it gave me an idea, since a I work in video making which is highly gadgety. I travel around with the minimal equipment I need for almost anything but it would be amazing to benefit from a group space where I can use other gadgets that it was not worth taking with me. And I believe similar situations might occur in other niches. For instance, I like having a wacom board but I donยดt take it with me on my travels because I just already have too many thingsโ€ฆ

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@reboramuriel | 4yr

Hello everyone
Interesting conversation.
Iโ€™ve been thinking about this myself as I am a video maker/photographer, so there are things I can offer only if I am AT the place, eg producing a promo video for a hostel.
One of the complex aspects is that our digital skills are typically much more expensive, our โ€œhourโ€ is worth more than a standing-behind-the-counter hour is, so barter agreements would not be hourly based but project based, meaning the agreement should be food, housing in exchange for so many videos, photos, sites, etc. in a certain time frame. However business managers are usually aware of this and if theyโ€™re just starting, they might like the idea of not having to spend actual money but only give you an idle room/bed to get a product they wouldnโ€™t have been able to afford just yet.
I think the legal aspect of it meaning you should pay taxes is interesting and relevant in some countries but not a real risk in many others, like in Latin America, where I am from and will be travelling around.
Finally, Iโ€™d like to say that thereโ€™s a human side to bartering that many of us deeply enjoy and crave for. Being a digital worker often means no offline sharing in work. And project based offline collaboration is something many of us prefer. It gives you an old school connection to the place you are visiting, means youโ€™ll know locals and people actually living there and it usually means you end up with a true friendship to go back to. I am interested in bartering for this reason, even if it might mean earning โ€œlessโ€ for the same service. Most of us had to get rid of some social and background pressure or preset idea of how life should be lived. Money is important but it is never ever the ONLY factor in one equation, especially once you have more than enough for your desires/needs. I am not a freelancer only to earn more money than I did before (although this is happening, luckily!) The main reason was I wanted to own my time and give myself pleasant working experiences while exploring the world. Bartering while travelling is definitely a interesting option to me.
Recently did it in Brazil: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYJvqS00IRM

Also, @tuesday, check this out <12>www.worldpackers.com

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@bobz_zg | 4yr

I watched a documentary year ago about people signing up for volunteering for food/lodging while spending some time in camps with orphans in return.
There are agencies where you signup and pay like ~1-2k โ‚ฌ (I donโ€™t remember exactly), then you go somewhere like Vietnam, Burmaโ€ฆ for a month/two where you help children, work as a teacher, cook, maintaining facilities there, and spend the rest of time with other people doing same things, doing some travel etcโ€ฆ

Problem was that there is a business model behind that where they are using children.
They buy children, take them away from their parents, and put them in camps.
With that they are making 6-7 figure โ‚ฌ profits while presenting them self as an agency that helps poor orphans etc.
Everything looks legit if you look at the company books, but on the other sideโ€ฆ

I understand you want to do something digital, but just be aware that there are all sort of people.

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@don_lee | 4yr

Seems like some here are interested with this idea. Itโ€™s good for you. I personally donโ€™t like the concept. Just a heads up, if you are going to do a digital work in return for lodging and food, you will be seriously considered โ€œworkingโ€ by immigration if getting caught because your services are directly provided to locals. You then should not enter the country with a tourist class visa.

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@wanderingdev | 4yr

Most of us are considered working whether we provide services directly to locals or not.

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@panoramica | 4yr

@Don_Lee Sorry, I missed your comment โ€œDigital nomads should be expected to be digital entrepreneurs instead.โ€ If youโ€™re a nomad with some digital skills, thereโ€™s no implication in the label that youโ€™re anything more. When I think of โ€œentrepreneurโ€, I think of a start up, not someone taking more or less whateverโ€™s going to make ends meet.

@wanderingdev Re โ€œanyone whoโ€™s built a wordpress site can usually manage it.โ€ - When I worked for a creative agency as a dev, we had a number of clients who asked us to build Content Manageable websites for them, but then, despite training, or perhaps due to a small staff or high staff turnover, they always contracted us to make the actual content updates. We also built (admittedly highly customised) WordPress sites, and they always took much longer than โ€œabout 5 hours of workโ€. Of course if youโ€™re just talking about the Famous 5-Minute Install, a few good plugins, a readymade theme and some very basic training, then thatโ€™s something different.

@jtroth In terms of wwoofing-style work, my understanding is that the business owner sets the rules rather than the incoming worker. I mean, how do you value shovelling sh*t? Wouldnโ€™t the person that did that job have to work around the clock? Just food for thought.

Cheers,
Dan

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@wanderingdev | 4yr

Yeah, these were just quick installs and uploading some pics, basic content onto a pretty standard theme. They just wanted some kind of web presence. The higher value was in the SEO. Also, for the most part, these were static sites, not actively updated.

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@joe | 5yr

As long as everyoneโ€™s expectations are set in the beginning, I donโ€™t see any issues with it, and might consider it myself if the circumstances were right.

If nice food/lodging is valued at $50/day, and a worker values their time at $50/hour, 7 hours per week of work would be fair for both sides. Adjust numbers as necessary.

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@tuesdaygroup | 5yr

@Don_Lee
Hey Don, thanks for your feedback.

โ€œDigital nomads should be expected to be digital entrepreneurs instead.โ€ thats an interesting point, however I donโ€™t think every nomad is or wants to be a digital entrepreneur, some just want to be freelancers that travel?

I think digital peasant is a little strongโ€ฆ I wouldnโ€™t describe the people working on these farms as peasants! I wasnโ€™t proposing 8 hr days chained to a computer in a mud hut in Portugal. I was thinking 3-4 hours a day then the rest of the day is your to do what you like. Be it other freelance work or relaxing in the sun knowing your rent and food is covered.

@bisonravi Hi Bisonravi thanks for your comments, interesting standpoint.

@grum thanks for your comments good points.

Hi @panoramica thanks for your positive response! :slightly_smiling: Yes I think your right and itโ€™s nice to hear someone say it out loud! I know that a lot of established nomads might scoff at the idea, but for others that are struggling to get by or simply want a different paced life, something like this could be a breath of fresh air.

Dan, I guess like you say itโ€™s all about bartering and finding some common ground. And maybe realising that this kind of deal could make a lot of sense for some people.

When I was struggling a few years back, a chance to build my company without having the constant struggle of paying rent, sure would of helped! Thanks for your other points too!

@wanderingdev thanks for your couple of kind comments. You make some good points as you say bartering and finding some common ground is normally the best way, while this might not be an option for every nomad it might be appealing to others with different circumstance/goals .

Thanks everyone for their feedback. Any more? Donโ€™t hold back!

From a sunny Sitges :)grinning:

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@wanderingdev | 5yr

honestly, the stuff that usually needs done at these kinds of places arenโ€™t developer skills. anyone whoโ€™s built a wordpress site can usually manage it. iโ€™ve done a lot of bartering when I was just getting started years ago and it worked great. now i would prefer to find a good charity to give my time to instead. but i donโ€™t see a problem with it. on more than one occasion iโ€™ve gotten a month of free lodging in exchange for a wordpress site and some simple SEO that took about 5 hours of work.

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@panoramica | 5yr

Hi @tuesday, I like it.

Iโ€™m tired of this idea of web development being an elitist profession. Maybe we fool ourselves into thinking that weโ€™re special, but itโ€™s just another job that needs to be done.

Why not barter with whatever skills you have? The ownerโ€™s needs will vary and be somewhat different to your dev niche, but take it has an opportunity to get some perspective and practice flexibility.

It would be important that the owner realises that your responsibility is limited to the duration of your stay.

Your role in the site maintainance/whatever is temporary and a replacement may not come along soon.

You should provide good handover notes/docs and not undertake anything too massive.

Thereโ€™s no paperwork at your end, just an under-the-table barter arrangement.

You get the same hours as everyone else and you get experience of operating a foreign farm on a digital level.

Cheers,
Dan

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@grum | 5yr

Voluntourism is a pretty popular thing in certain areas of Europe and Asia, often itโ€™s hard to find the IT related work as there is a percentage of people who use this as an exercise in getting free accommodation and food instead of being a good human being. Any job that doesnโ€™t require you to work hard on the farm is prime. With this in mind, most places Iโ€™ve seen that offer digital work usually throw that in with administration or customer service-esque duties.

If you like to help people, Iโ€™d recommend it purely for the cultural exercise of it all. If you want to continue operating your nomadic business whilst this happens though, itโ€™ll be rather difficult. Voluntourism is generally a full-time job.

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@don_lee | 5yr

Bad. Nobody would want to be a digital peasant because digital works pay much more than that. Digital nomads should be expected to be digital entrepreneurs instead.

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@bavals | 5yr

I love it! After we, the technologists, through our collective efforts, โ€œliberated,โ€ โ€œdisintermediatedโ€ and โ€œwikifiedโ€ other professions (writing, music-making, translation, journalism, etc) over the past decade, here comes our turn to receive offers to work for food. Oh the ironies of the digital age!

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@wanderingdev | 5yr

You can find opportunities like that, but generally they have to do with online marketing and website updating.

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by @pras_k | 12mo 11 months ago | 10 comments

Whatโ€™s the best place?
For residency Iโ€™m looking at Portugal and they have the NHR (non habitual resident) program which would exempt dividends from foreign income.
So all Iโ€™m really looking for is the best place to actually start the company.
Biggest factors are of course low taxes and ease of setting up the company plus a business bank account that enables me to receive payments through Stripe.

What I found so far:
Hong Kong
Corporate tax rate of 16.5% (8.25% for the first HK$2 million)
โŠ•/โŠ– offshore income from outside HK is exempt from taxation but itโ€™s not clear whether this can be done in the first year and prorated or if itโ€™s only through filing the offshore exemption claim. This might take two years and requires not income from HK at all. More info on that would be great
โŠ– seems very difficult to get a business bank account
โŠ– necessary services and fees are roughly around โ‚ฌ2000 / year
โŠ– accounting requirements seem to be very strict
โŠ• Doesnโ€™t require local partner
โŠ• Agencies available that seem to handle most of the work

Singapore
Corporate tax rate of 17% (0% on the first S$100k, 8.5% up to S$300k)
โŠ– requires a local director. What are the implications of this?

Malta
Corporate tax rate of 35%
There is the โ€œfull imputation systemโ€ but I donโ€™t really understand it.
"In most cases, the tax refund to the shareholder is 6/7 of the tax paid by the company on profits distributed as dividends. The tax refund rate may be different in the following cases: " This would result in an effective corporate tax of around 5%.
โŠ– European customers would have to pay VAT and Iโ€™d have to deal with that

Cyprus
Corporate tax rate of 12.5% and there seem to be ways to lower this
โŠ– European customers would have to pay VAT and Iโ€™d have to deal with that
โŠ– requires staying in Cyprus for 2 months / year

I find it surprising how much research this requires and how much โ€œit dependsโ€ information is out there when Iโ€™d assume that there are probably thousands of digital nomads who probably have very similar requirements.

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Do you "out" yourself as a digital nomad?


by @larsheather | 1yr 1 year ago | 2 comments

When you meet new people or reconnect with old friends, do you โ€œoutโ€ yourself as a digital nomad? The simple question โ€œwhere do you live?โ€ makes us uncertain now. We wonder if some places may be less welcoming to digital nomads, or if โ€œdigital nomadโ€ has a negative connotation in some places. If you are forthcoming from the start, does your status as a digital nomad make it hard to form friendships?

We would love to hear how other people navigate thisโ€ฆ how to balance being authentic in relationships vs. withholding the context (and allowing people to assume youโ€™re on vacation, for example).

Thanks!

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Property Ownership - should digital nomads buy properties?


by @sparrow_23 | 1yr 1 year ago | 16 comments

I have been a digital nomad for the last couple of years. I have always worked in tech and now run a couple of profitable online businesses that give me a reliable income and allow me to fund a nomadic lifestyle.

I recently exited one of my businesses and I am considering to invest the income from the sale in properties, mainly for 2 reasons:

a) I donโ€™t want to keep wasting my money in renting apartments across the cities I stay

b) I believe in properties as investment and I want to diversify my investment portfolio (mainly stocks)

After years of constant wander from one place to another, now I am the type of digital nomad who sticks to few locations: I mainly rotate across 4 places each year (San Francisco, Medellin, Berlin, Bali). Buying a house in each of those location would be difficult and too expensive. Therefore, I was wondering if there was any sort of service that combines an investment opportunity with the ability to access different properties around the world (even if just for a limited time per year) ?

Imagine living in 4 cities per year and having a house in each place that you can exclusively use for 3 months and at the same time having your investment growing (this depending on the market, of course). Wouldnโ€™t that be great? I believe it could be done via a property fund selling you a share and giving you access to some of their properties for a limited timeframe each year.

Has anyone heard of anything like that?

Thanks!

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Ko Lanta or Ko Phangan - which island is better for a digital nomad?


in Ko Lanta, Thailand by @melinda | 1yr 1 year ago | 6 comments

Iโ€™m currently in Penang, Malaysia and I was thinking to head to Thailand next. What are the best islands in Thailand to get some work done? I was considering either Ko Lanta or Ko Phangan because those both islands have coworking spaces. I might need to take some client calls, also video. Is the wifi good enough? Are there any other differences between the islands?

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Do any digital nomads travely solely by motorcycle?


by @fraserdeans | 1yr 1 year ago | 10 comments

Last summer I spent some time travelling through Thailand and Cambodia and jumped on mopeds to get around. I fell in love with them, the freedom, the ability to get off the tourist trail and see areas of a country not written about in tour books.

Recently a friend of mine cycled from London through Western Europe down to Morocco. His journey, stories and photo blog have all inspired me to see Europe by road rather than missing it all by plane.

Iโ€™ve been encouraged to do the same longer term through Europe. Next month Iโ€™m heading off to Spain to start that journey.

I was wondering if any nomads here are on similar journeys? Does anyone motorcycle between cities setting up to work for a couple weeks then moving on?

If so, have you got any advice/tips for someone just starting that journey?

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Where should I register my company as a digital nomad? Singapore, Hong Kong?


in Singapore by @raphadk | 1yr 1 year ago | 14 comments

Hey guys, hereโ€™s a question Iโ€™ve been asking nomads I meet everywhere, but still havenโ€™t found good information. My startups mostly focus on american and european markets but I donโ€™t have a registered company, nor I live permanently on any of these countries.

I get the cash payments online in paypal (or adsense) and transfer it to Thailand (or Malaysia, or Bali, or Brazil, or wherever Iโ€™m at). The thing isโ€ฆ for low volume living expenses it seems fine, but as I scale the business, Iโ€™m starting to think more and more about fiscal law.

A fellow nomad told me to transfer it to Singapore, Hong Kong or The Virgin Islands, and then use an international credit card anywhere. I donโ€™t know if itโ€™s the best way to optimize thisโ€ฆ any ideas?

Also, could there be any problems in selling to these countries without a registered local company?

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Best online Bank for Digital Nomads


by @nilanjan | 2yr 2 years ago | 0 comments

Hi All,
Can you suggest a cheap but reliable online Bank for Nomads?
What I meant by " cheap" is decent " service charges".

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What's the best bank for South African digital nomads?


in South Africa by @kirst85 | 2yr 2 years ago | 12 comments

Iโ€™m a South African about to become a Nomad next year. I will still be employed by a South African company and receive a salary into my FNB bank account monthly.

I will be mostly based in Serbia but plan on travelling a lot. Does anyone have any advice on the best bank account to have? Is there a way to not get charged a small fortune in ATM charges and avoid getting my account frozen for using it in lots of countries?

Iโ€™m unsure of the best way to handle things. Should I try get another bank account outside of SA (Can I even do that)? I also have a British Passport if that makes a difference.

If any of you have any experienced advice I would be very grateful, Thanks in advance!

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Where to stay in Budapest as a digital nomad?


in Budapest, Hungary by @pparma | 2yr 2 years ago | 2 comments

HI, Iโ€™m from Argentina: new to Nomad List, and to digital nomad life in general :slight_smile:

I want to travel to Budapest on March for two months, can anyone recommend
the best area to stay?

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