Interview: Thom Wensink

Thom WensinkThom is a Freelance webdesigner and front-end developer, who works for multiple clients (although he works on a regular basis for Open Classifieds – a Barcelona based startup). He also recently started a side project, Nomad Projects. You can find him on twitter and also on his own website (NL)

1. Which are the main advantages that you find of working remotely?

The fact that I can more or less plan my own day for me is the biggest advantage. I’m totally not a morning person and work way more effective in the evening. If I feel like taking a spontaneous trip I can just go, no boss that’s gonna stop me. Fun activities are no longer restricted to the weekend.

Also, being able to travel and see the world and combining this with my job is truly fantastic. I know that I’m lucky that i’m able to do so and I am enjoying my life to the max now.

2. Do you think you have disadvantages or that you’re missing something by working remotely?

For me the biggest disadvantage is not being able to have a mentor. I truly believe the importance of a mentor is underrated. Before I became a nomad I worked at various web design companies and there was always someone higher up the ladder that could teach me new things. When working remotely you have to rely on online tutorials for new knowledge and Stack overflow if you’re completely stuck on something.

3. From which cities or countries have you worked from since you have become a digital nomad? Which is your favorite one?

Athens, Barcelona, Valencia, Rome, Budapest, Amsterdam and some smaller cities. Of all these places the city I truly fell in love with is Budapest.

The city has a enjoyable mix of of bars and good restaurants on the pest side and loads of old historical buildings which are awesome to visit on the buda side. Also, the cheap costs of living helps also. But don’t wait too long to visit it since I think Budapest will become more western european in the coming years and prices will eventually rise.

4. From which type of place do you prefer to work from? Coworking spaces, coffee shops or others? Do you have any specific place?

I enjoy coworking spaces over coffee shops since I meet more likeminded people in coworking spaces. Also I don’t mind working from my own Airbnb apartment, as long as it has reliable Wifi I’m cool with it.

5. Which places would you like to travel to -from where you would enjoy and work from- as a digital nomad?

In January I will travel to Bangkok to work and travel through south east asia for 9 months. Obviously Chiang Mai, rumored digital nomad heaven, is on the top of my list but I think SEA in general is a good place to start as a digital nomad. Low living costs and a growing nomad community make SEA very attractive for digital nomads.

6. What would you say to the companies that don’t believe on hiring employees who work remotely?

It’s the future. The freelance economy is growing as more and more people work for themselves, with some predicting that half of the American workforce will be self-employed by 2020. Especially recently graduated young freelancers will discover that there are more options after university. Working in a corporate environment isn’t the only option and I believe more and more youngsters will find the way to working remotely.

7. Which tools do you use to work remotely?

At Open Classifieds we recently switched from Slack to Telegram. A friend of mine wrote a detailed article about why we ditched slack. Also I use email and Skype to remain in contact with the bulk of my clients. Most of my clients are still based in The Netherlands and luckily they don’t mind that most of our communication is web based.

8. How do you manage your business and taxes?

My business is located in The Netherlands and every quarter I still have to do my taxes. The past year I could easily do this myself online but as my client base grew, so did my administration. Last month I got a bookkeeper and for 2016 I hope he will take over most of the tax related tasks.

9. What advice would you give to people looking to become a digital nomad and work remotely?

Just do it, it’s not as difficult as it seems. You don’t need a shitload of money, you just need the balls to actually do it. Invest in a skill where you can make your money online and go network.

Also my aim in life is not to become filthy rich, but to live a life that I find fulfilling. I think most of my friends possess more money than I do, but for me the nomad life is way more fulfilling than a life with a regular job, a wife and a dog. You don’t need a lot of money to have a fulfilling life, so don’t let that be your aim if you become a nomad.

In conclusion: do not be influenced by what society expects you to do. If you think nomad life is for you, then just do it. Don’t wait for ‘the right time’. The time is now.

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