Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Building Community: Dean Kuchel's 3rd Zagreb Visit in 2022 on Christmas Day

December 28, 2021 - Zagreb is a 365-day nomad city, as the Croatian capital's favourite Israeli nomad Dean Kuchel found out on his latest building community mission.

The thing about digital nomads, I am learning, is that they seem to think the whole world exists on their schedules, and that we can all adapt.

"Paul, I am coming back to Zagreb for the third time. I love that city. So let's meet."

"Fantastic. It will be great to see you, but I also want to talk to you more about CROMADS and how we get some of your community of 25,000 nomads coming to Croatia to check out its authentic experiences.  When are you coming, and how long for?"

"December 25th, for just 18 hours. But really looking forward to seeing you. Let's go out and have some fun."

"I know you are Jewish, but December 25 is kinda a big deal here - a family day called Christmas. And nothing will be open."

Of course, Dean had no problem finding the party, enjoying a great Christmas lunch with about 15 nomads - the Zagreb community is really starting to gel. 

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And apart from Santa Claus and Johnny Rotten, probably the only other chap who could tempt me off the gin-sodden sofa on Christmas Day is this man. One of our favourite haunts, Canopy by Hilton Zagreb was open throughout the holiday period, and it was good to catch up and discuss CROMADS and other plans. 

Dean was a keynote speaker at Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, as well as returning in September as the official Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for the month. A rising star on the nomad scene, his boundless enthusiasm for all things Zagreb (as well as his increasingly frequent visits) are one more sign that the Croatian capital is establishing itself as a serious new kid on the digital nomad block.  

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But Dean has bigger plans for Croatia's digital nomad story and building community than just Zagreb.  After a relaxing night, he was on the plane to Dubrovnik, where he will be working with the Dubrovnik Tourist Board building community until early in the New Year. Here he is above, with legendica Ana Hrnic, Director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, and a firm supporter and participant in the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence Program. Stay tuned for some exciting Dubrovnik nomad news in 2022, to be announced shortly on TCN. 

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Meanwhile, back in Zagreb, the community continues to grow. December Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador, Anna Maria Kochanska, was very taken by Canopy when we met there for a drink the other night to do an invitation. So much so that she organised a co-working day at the hotel today. 

For more news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Nimrod Dean Kuchel: Also Zagreb, The Perfect Destination for Digital Nomads

December 5, 2021 - Zagreb digital nomads are growing in number, and with endorsements like this from one of the rising stars of the nomad conference speaking scene, a lot more look set to follow. 

Full disclosure - I really like the guy. 

When Tanja Polegubic from Saltwater Nomads, my co-organiser of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, together with the Zagreb Tourist Board, called me excitedly to say that an Israeli nomad with his own community of 25,000 nomads had agreed to fly to Zagreb to speak at our conference, it didn't register immediately on how significant this could be for the conference, but also for Zagreb's digital nomad story.

His presentation on community building was one of the highlights of the conference (you can watch it above), and I learned a lot about the nomad movement in our week together. I particularly liked his mantra of 'I travel solo, but I never travel alone.' 

A quick interview at the end of the week also produced a rather nice soundbite when he was asked what Zagreb is missing in its digital nomad offer.

"Zagreb ticks all the boxes. The only thing missing in Zagreb are more digital nomads.'

That was in June. In September, Dean was back, this time as the official Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for September. And what a whirlwind it was - I am pretty sure Dean saw more of the city and met more people than I have in my 18 years here. 

And there was almost a tear in his eye, as this man who lives to travel had to move on after his month in Zagreb. It had - it seeemed - captured his heart. 

And then, on the eve of Digital Nomad Week, where he is a speaker tomorrow, he sent me this:

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After eight years as a digital nomad, and 100 plus countries traveled, I can confidently announce - the perfect destination for digital nomads and remote professionals is also Zagreb.

Also Zagreb because there is no one-destination-fits-all. ( what is perfect anyway?!)

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Some nomads like beach destinations, others prefer snow, I enjoy big cities, and my best friend likes to hide in a remote village. We are diverse & different, and we should celebrate it.

Isn’t that what being a digital nomad all about?

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As a digital nomad and a solo world traveler - community is key for me. What I discovered fairly quickly in my journey towards visiting all 196 countries of the world is that places are beautiful, but people, people are what will make this journey special.

And that’s why for me, the perfect nomad destination is also Zagreb.

Digital nomad community? Also Zagreb

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Plenty of coffee shops with proper wifi? You will find it also in Zagreb

Multiple co-work spaces with different vibes? Also Zagreb

Vibrant and active city-center hosting daily activities? Also Zagreb

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Shopping for the non-minimalists among us? Also Zagreb

Excellent lifestyle to cost-of-living ratio? Also Zagreb

Beautiful wine country, romantic ports, and untouched nature a short drive away? Also Zagreb

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Well connected airport making it easy for my mom to come visit? Also Zagreb

Zagreb is not the mecca of nomads, nor the hot-spot for remote-professionals you typically read about in travel magazines - but it has it all - hence why it is now one of multiple cities I enjoy visiting regularly. From one visit to another, the list of friends I am excited to catch-up with is getting longer, as more nomads turn Zagreb into their homebase, thanks to a unique Digital Nomad Visa, allowing nomads to stay up to a year, and have access to banking & health care.

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And that’s big, especially if you are tired of monthly visa-runs, or tired of the constant traveling.

I go to Zagreb when I want to sink into a routine, enjoy dinner with the same people week after week, and feel part of the place, rather than a spectator. I go for my calm.

If you are after the extraordinaire, the spectacular, or the heaven on heart - I can direct to places like Japan, Iceland, or Samoa, if you feel at home among the crowd - head to Shanghai, connect with the inner-you - all the way India, Bungee jump - New Zealand is your home.

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One you have done exploring - meet me in Zagreb, let’s walk the old streets, pick one of the many bars, and grab a glass of local wine.

The best city for digital nomads is also Zagreb.

I’ve experienced it first hand during my 3rd & longest visit to the city - from the moment I arrived, everything was easy.

Finding a mid-term place to stay, getting familiar with the city layout, public transportation, and mapping the best places for nomads was a breeze thanks for number of resources, all geared towards digital nomads - check out the dedicated page on Zagreb’s board of Tourism, join the Discord chat (how many cities have that?!), connect with locals, and fellow nomads on the Facebook group, and stay up to date with the help of Croatia’s own Digital Nomads Association (how many countries have that?!).

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One more factor which made me feel very welcome in Zagreb, is the sincere steps Zagreb’s officials, and the Croatian government are making toward us - digital nomads.

No more vague policy around remote-work in the country, no need to feel we are working from cafes illegally, and finally - a country who recognizes the benefits of hosting remote professionals, and the contribution we make to the local economy, and strong connection we form with the locals.

I am now touring the world, visiting friends in various countries, spending time with my adorable nephews, and pushing towards the goal of visiting all 196 countries of the world, but eventually - I will back to the perfect place for digital nomads - (also) Zagreb.

Go experience the magic for yourself, and drop me a line when you there - I might be there as well.

Say YES! Go Explore,

Dean Kuchel

King of Digital Nomads 

Instagram: https://instagram.com/where_is_dean/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nimroddeank

For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, check out the dedicated TCN section

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Nimrod Dean Kuchel Reflects on Month as Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador

October 2, 2021 - A bundle of positive energy flew from Zagreb to Podgorica, as Nimrod Dean Kuchel, the Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for September, departed for his latest adventure. He caught up with TCN before he left to reflect on his month in the Croatian capital. 

It is hard not to be infected by the boundless enthusiasm of Israeli digital nomad Nimrod Dean Kuchel. Two of his main mantras are very simple, but sum up his lifestyle very well. Say yes! to everything. And while he travels solo, he never travels alone. 

Kuchel said yes firstly to being a keynote speaker at Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, an initiative of the Zagreb Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads, and Total Croatia News. You can see his very entertaining presentation below.  

 

And then he said yes when asked if he would be applying to be a Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for a month, the second component of the project. 

Arriving at the beginning of September and taking up residence at Doma Zagreb Aparthotel, Kuchel told me of his intention to work hard to build up the Zagreb community during his stay. 

He seems to have been everywhere in the city, and the events that he held during his time attracted good crowds and networking opportunities.  

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Last night's farewell event, a Zagreb Meet-Up and Pitch night at Canopy by Hilton, a favourite co-working space during his stay, brought together around 50 locals, expats and digital nomads for a social evening with various speakers contributing their travel and digital nomad stories, before several of the audience also took the stand in the ensuing Open Mic session. 

Shortly before his departure, Kuchel posted the following farewell to his Zagreb friends, old and new.  

You are looking at a construction site - and together we are building a community.

On my last night here, I was honoured by a large group of locals, expats and digital nomads for a night of stories, and new friendships - with tears in my eyes I said my goodbyes, although I know - we will meet again.

More than countries and beautiful landscape - I travel for people, that's the agenda I came to Zagreb with, that's the legacy I hope I leave behind.

My stay in Zagreb is coming to an end today, but I will forever stay an ambassador and advocate of the city, country, and the people.

Thank you Tanja Polegubic Jan de Jong Paul Bradbury Zagreb Tourist Board Andrej Karić every person who made my stay here so special.

Andrae Smith - enjoy Croatia, you are in good hands!

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South African Andrae Smith is the Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for November, and she introduced herself last night. There will be a TCN interview with Andrae tomorrow. 

Dean kindly invited the project stakeholders for a thank you breakfast this morning, after which he found the time to share some of his parting thoughts on his month in Zagreb, which you can watch in the interview below.  

You can connect with Nimrod Dean Kuchel via LinkedIn

For more news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Monday, 27 September 2021

DN Ambassador Dean Kuchel Hosting Zagreb Meet-Up and Pitch Night at Canopy by Hilton

September 27, 2021 - Outgoing Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Nimrod Dean Kuchel invites you to his final event, a Zagreb Meet-Up and Pitch Night at Canopy by Hilton. 

From the moment he landed at Zagreb Airport and even before he took up residence as the Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for September, Israeli Nimrod Dean Kuchel has been working tirelessly to tell the remote work community about the joys of the Croatian capital. 

Accepting an invitation to speak at the inaugural Zagreb Digital Nomad Week back in June, Kuchel's engaging presentation on building community was one of the highlights of a thought-provoking week (you can see his presentation below). 

The conclusions of an experienced digital nomad who has travelled the world to over 100 countries in 7 years )and with an online DN community of 24,000 people) were encouraging indeed. In a brief interview at the end of that week, he declared that Zagreb ticked all the boxes for digital nomads, and that the only thing missing in Zagreb was more digital nomads. 

Just over two months later, Dean was back, this time as the official Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for September. Over welcome drinks, he declared his intention to do as much as he could to unite and grow the community during his time in Zagreb. 

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The Digital Nomads Croatia Facebook group hosted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) evening with Dean a couple of weeks, ago at Bustan, which was a well-attended event by locals and digital nomads in the city. Dean has been busy exploring all the co-working spaces in the city, as well as aspects of its social life I will never know about, and is now organising one last event before he hands over the ambassador baton to South African Andrae Smith, who takes up residence at Doma Zagreb Aparthotel on October 1.  

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Dean is organising a Zagreb Meet-Up and Pitch Night from 18:00 on Friday, October 1, an opportunity to network and make new friends. The highlight of the evening will be 5 live speakers, sharing travel and digital nomad stories from around the world. 

The event will be held where part of Zagreb's digital nomad story began. Canopy by Hilton Zagreb hosted the opening day of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, and it has since proved to be a hit with visiting nomads. The combination of excellent Internet, services within the hotel, nearby gym and various food options in the  Branimir Centre where it is located, has proved to be a winning combination. 

The Zagreb Meet-Up and Pitch Night will take place in the hotel's ReUnion restaurant on the ground floor. The Canopy by Hilton Zagreb team has kindly offered a welcome drink to people attending. Food and drink will be available throughout the evening, at your own cost. 

You can find more information on the Facebook event page. If you would like to attend, please inform Dean via the event page, so that he can have an idea of numbers. The invitation is open to all - here is Dean's message:

Hi friends,

It was super-awesome to meet you all on our last meet-up!

So a minute before I leave town onto my next adventure, let's meet once again, share a drink, meet new friends, and listen to 5 stories from around the world.

Our mini "Pitch-Night" will include 5 short stories of digital nomads and world travellers, followed by the usual networking event.

The location is the ReUnion restaurant in Canopy by Hilton (Branimir Centre), but please block your calendar - Friday, October 1st, happy-hour time, from 18:00.

Smash that "GOING" button, and I will see you Friday.

Love & WiFi,
Dean

*Want to share your story with the world? send me a message.

This meet-up is with the support of Digital Nomads Croatia Association, Saltwater Nomads, Total Croatia News, and the Zagreb Tourist Board - thank for all your efforts to make Zagreb feel like home to us, digital nomads.

For more news and features on digital numbers in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Dean Kuchel to Hold AMA Session for Digital Nomads in Zagreb

September 11, 2021 - This month's Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador, Nimrod Dean Kuchel, will be holding an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session for Digital Nomads in Zagreb at the Digital Nomads Croatia group gathering next week.

Having lived in Croatia full-time for 18 years, it is always refreshing to hear the first impressions of new arrivals, as time tends to take the edge of one's own impressions of a destination you have lived in for years.

As such, TCN's coverage and advocacy for the digital nomad opportunity in Croatia has been refreshing indeed. Not only have I met some fascinating and stimulating characters with a global perspective (many barely half my age), but the overwhelmingly positive comments about what they are finding on their visits to Croatia is a nice confirmation that we have something very special here. Something which, if developed properly, can repivot Croatia into a fabulous new direction. 

The whole digital nomad buzz is still pretty new here, but it has already attracted global attention. TCN started writing about the potential about May 2019, and there were others before us, but the topic only really started to enter the mainstream media on May 11, 2020 after Split-based Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong penned an open letter on LinkedIn to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, asking him to introduce what would have been only the fifth digital nomad visa in the world at the time (and the second in Europe after Estonia). 

A lot has happened since then, with a lot of people contributing to the story in their various ways. De Jong kept pushing, five ministries coordinated, the law was changed, and on January 1, 2021, the Croatian digital nomad permit came into being. The media coverage was huge, and I can't remember a positive story about Croatia during my time here which got as much free global publicity, with the very notable exception of the World Cup. 

But while de Jong was focused on the visa, there was plenty happening on the ground. Facebook communities catering to digital nomads in Croatia started to pop up, some dedicated to individual cities such as Split, Dubrovnik and Zagreb, as well as Digital Nomads Croatia, which now has a following of 6,700. Saltwater Nomads, in partnership with TCN, and the City of Dubrovnik and Zagreb and Dubrovnik tourist boards, held a number of events which helped to promote Croatia as a DN destination, winning several awards and precious international column inches. These included the first-ever DN conference in Croatia, Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads, the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence Program, and Zagreb Digital Nomad Week & Digital Nomad Ambassador Project. 

And the nomads are coming, as TCN reported recently in some very encouraging statistics extrapolated from NomadList. Read more in Zagreb, Split Attracting More Digital Nomads than Prague, Krakow, Budapest.

One of the stars of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week was Nimrod Dean Kuchel of Digital Nomad World, whose online community numbers an impressive 24,000. This allows Kuchel to travel under the mantra of 'I travel alone, but I never travel solo.' - wherever he travels, he knows that he will bee able to connect either with his own community or one established in the destination. His presentation on the importance of building community was one of the highlights of the conference, and Kuchel was clearly impressed with the potential of Zagreb as a DN destination, as you can see from the short video interview on Lake Jarun, above. 

So much so, in fact, that he decided to return and is currently residing at Doma Zagreb Aparthotel, as the third Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador. 

And he has been busy 'not travelling alone' by catching up with several of his own community, as well as integrating well within the existing community. To have such a fantastic promoter of the digital nomad lifestyle in Zagreb for a month, actively willing to help with his knowledge and experience of community building is a great asset. Young Kuchel has wasted no time in getting involved in the Zagreb scene, and he will be a special guest at the Digital Nomads Croatia gathering at Bustan Bar in the city centre on September 16, where he will be holding a special AMA (Ask Me Anything) session about the digital nomad lifestyle, both in and out of Croatia. 

Dean is a great speaker and a very entertaining guy, and it is great to see nomads seeing the Croatian opportunity from afar and willingly doing their bit to spread the word. Things are starting...

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More details on the event page.

For more news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Friday, 3 September 2021

Dean Kuchel of Digital Nomad World Arrives as Latest Zagreb Ambassador

September 3, 2021 - The Croatian capital welcomes back Dean Kuchel from Digital Nomad World as its third Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador.

He decided to come to Croatia spontaneously in June when he was invited to speak at the inaugural Zagreb Digital Nomad Week conference. 

Israeli Dean Kuchel was undoubtedly one of the stars of the week, and his highly entertaining presentation on building community was certainly one of the highlights.  A serial traveller to more than 100 countries in just 7 years (including travel-restricted 2020), there are few better examples of someone embracing the freedom of the digital nomad lifestyle. 

One of his mantras is the simple maxim - I travel solo, but I never travel alone. A simple sentence which gets to the core of the theme of building community. If a destination has a vibrant digital nomad community, then nomads will come. And Kuchel certainly knows a thing or two about building community, as his own community now numbers some 24,000 online nomad fans.  

Of all the many stimulating people I met at Zagreb Digital Noamd Week, I learned the most from him about this relatively new lifestyle, and the opportunities which it presents for Croatia. For such a restless spirit, the idea of a 12-month visa application would not appeal to him, but the buzz of Croatia as a dynamic destination for nomads certainly helped get him on the plane. His observations about Zagreb after the week were certainly encouraging, as you can see in the brief interview above. Zagreb ticks all the boxes, and the only thing missing for digital nomads in the city are more digital nomads. Build that community and they will come. 

The  second mantra is even shorter. Say yes! Embrace things and give them a try.

"Would  you say yes to applying to be one of our Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassadors," I asked. 

"Ha, why not? This is a great city and I love this project and conference."

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And  then, less than two weeks later, an application.  

Dean arrived to take up residence at Doma Zagreb Aparthotel, the official accommodation partner of the Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador project on Wednesday. We caught  up for a drink last night, and Dean is very keen to work on building community to help take Zagreb (and Croatia) to the next level. It promises to be an exciting month.

You can follow Dean Kuchel's escapades on his Where is Dean? Instagram

For more information about the Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador project, check out Saltwater Nomads.

For the latest news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.

 

 

 

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Dean Kuchel of Digital Nomad World: Zagreb Checks All the Boxes

June 27, 2021 - As Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 draws to a close, Dean Kuchel of Digital Nomad World shares his thoughts on Zagreb as a digital nomad destination. 

Day 5 of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 was undoubtedly the highlight in terms of content, with a number of quality keynote presentations and panels focused on the topic of the Future of Work. 

Israeli Dean Kuchel, founder of the online communities Digital Nomads Israel and Digital Nomad World, brought a bundle of energy and positivity to the proceedings, with an energetic keynote speech on the topic of building community. 

His simple mantra that he travels solo but never travels alone is a key message for Croatian stakeholders to pick up on. If the digital nomad infrastructure is in, and Croatia is attractive for nomads, then they will come. And a key element of that is building up a community of like-minded people who choose to spend time in Croatia and who can meet and interact with like-minded digital nomads who have chosen Croatia.  

Here is what he had to say when asked what Zagreb is missing for digital nomads:

"Zagreb is missing more digital nomads. It has perfect weather, great nightlife. Everybody speaks English, everybody is kind to you, and it is easy to get around. The Internet is fantastic, thank you. It has been very helpful with work. I don't think it misses anything really. It checks all the boxes. It has good city life, nature, access to the sea. Just stay the same please."

One of the most interesting things I learned this week was that one of the biggest and most successful communities and DN destinations in Europe is Bansko in Bulgaria. A ski resort which attracts snowboarders, Bansko has a highly developed DN community, and the sense of community and lfestyle and like-minded people it offers is often more important than the destination itself. 

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And if Croatia could develop that... Probably the most encouraging things that Dean told me was his opinion that Croatia is very much on the right path. He was very surprised and encouraged to see the level of public/private partnership and participation in Croatia's push to welcome the DN sector, which is something he has seen very rarely in other countries. While the most high-profile example of that is the public/private partnership to deliver Croatia's digital nomad permit, that cooperation exists at a deeper level. ZDNW was financed by Zagreb Tourist Board, with help from Digital Nomad Association Croatia, and delivered by Saltwater Nomads and Total Croatia News. But the commitment of the public and private sector to this initiative was demonstrated in the speaker and panel participants - the City of Zagreb, Zagreb Tourist Board, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Ministry of Tourism, KPMG Croatia, Raaiffeisen Bank, and Hrvatski Telekom. It wa also a pleasure to welcome His Excellency Ilan Mor, Ambassador to the State of Israel, who came to meet and support Dean. 

A solid base on which to grow things in partnership.  

You can see all the presentations from the main day of the conference, whose important topic was the Future of Work. I highly recommend you watch them all if you are interested in the topic, but do find time to watch Dean Kuchel's VERY entertaining presenation on the importance of community building. If there was one presentation for Croatian stakeholders to listen to as they try and position themselves, it would be this one. It starts at 2 hours 42 minutes 50 seconds. 

You can follow Dean Kuchel's escapades on his Where is Dean? Instagram. Having visited over 100 countries in just 7 years (one of those being the pandemic year of 2020), Dean will not be in one place for long and is already in Bulgaria, having arrived in Zagreb from Ukraine in the middle of the week. 

For more information about the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, check out Saltwater Nomads.

For the latest news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Building Zagreb Community: ZDNW Keynote Dean Kuchel, Digital Nomad World Interview

June 23, 2021 - It is Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, and among the speakers are the owners of the two biggest DN LinkedIn groups. Meet one of them, Dean Kuchel of Digital Nomad Israel and Digital Nomad World.

We are delighted to welcome Dean Kuchel from Israel to Zagreb Digital Nomad Week. Dean will be delivering a keynote speech on community building, an essential step Croatia will take in its efforts to develop its digital nomad presence. You can register to attend online or in person here.

1. More than 100 countries visited, a digital nomad for years. It sounds like a perfect life! Tell us how it all started. What was the trigger to set you on your path?

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Yes, I have visited over 100 countries in 7 years. It is the perfect life and I am living my dream. I don't think the way I do it is right for everyone, but there are definitely many bonus points, and I have been living a great life on the road for the last 7-8 years. 

It all started almost by mistake for me. The most lucrative job you can have is a relocation, to somewhere like the States. Do a few years there, then return to your home country - in my case, Tel Aviv in Israel. I got a job in San Francisco, but after I waited for 2-3 months for the visa, my company asked me to work remotely, which I did. 

This is how I met the nomadic lifestyle. I travelled to Taiwan and Japan, then visited a few countries in Europe, all while working remotely. While I was on this journey back in 2014, I started to meet other people enjoying a remote lifestyle. This is where I first met with digital nomads. I discovered a whole new world where I could combine one of my biggest passions - travel - and work. 

It is important to step back and note that my mother is a tour guide and has been travelling from an early age. She has been leading groups abroad and around the world. So travel was in my DNA from a very young age, and I always loved to travel. I generally say that I travel for people not places. The world is beautiful but it is the people that make travel special. 

When I finally got my work visa, I told my company that it was too late and that I was hooked on this lifestyle and could not return to the office. They answered very simply - you earned it. Remote work can be just as effective, sometimes more so, than being in the office. I showed that I was an effective communicator and team player working anywhere in the world. 

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2. Focusing on Europe, where do you think the best places are for digital nomads and why?

There are many, many good countries and hot spots. The highlights would be the Canary Islands and Bansko in Bulgaria. Mostly for the community. Having a like-minded community to connect to which understands you,  with people who have made the same life choices as you. It is very supportive and helps each other to grow. Community is key to make a destination lucrative as a digital nomad destination, as happened in the Canary Islands and Bansko over time. 

We are seeing beautiful efforts from countries such as Portugal, and of course Croatia, spearheading this change in Europe, allowing nomads to spend time in the country,  putting in infrastructure. Events such as Zagreb Digital Nomad Week are great. We are seeing more co-working spaces and more accommodation available on short-term leases. 

This broadens the range of countries to visit, and when we mix the basic needs for digital nomads, such as a good WiFi connection, good places to work from, and an affordable cost of living, then we are definitely looking at countries such as Hungary, Poland, Czechia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Croatia. These are beautiful countries with great culture and good infrastructure. They will be very attractive for nomads in the coming years, and they will benefit greatly from this shift in forces when it comes to where people choose to work from. We will see people leave the States, UK, Germany and other 'first-world' economies, and relocating to more affordable places. Those countries welcoming digital nomads will gain a lot form digital nomads, both economically and immersion in the local community. 

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3. The concept of digital nomad tourism is quite new here, and we are learning about the importance of community. Tell us more about this. 

Community is to compensate for what we leave behind, for the sacrifice we make, the family, friends and coleagues. It is a network of people who understand our needs, our choices, our lifestyle. The community doesn't question us, about why we do things or how we do them. It gives you a sense of belonging be part of something bigger than just yourself, the movement.  

4. I have noticed around Croatia that there are a growing number of nomads, but this building of community is not as strong as it could be. Tell us about the importance of community. 

Community is of course a key part of life for all of us, not just digital nomads. But it is especially important for digital nomads, many of whom travel solo, but do not want to travel alone. This is where community comes to compensate for lack of family and friends. This is why we see organic communities developing in places like the Canary Islands, Bansko in Bulgaria, Medellin in Colombia, Bali, and Chiang Mail in Thailand. 

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It is this natural need to connect to other people, people often with the same interests and life choices. The community also understands the lifestyle. Sometimes other people look at us and say we are crazy with this life. But a lot of us believe that this lifestyle can work and be sustainable, and when you have a community of people who have made the same life choices and sacrifices, it can be a lot of fun and great way to see the world. We all have our down time, of course, our hearts broken and our bad days, and we need that community to support us. Especially when we cross borders into cultures which are very different from our own. The community makes the transition into new places much easier. There is also the bonus of meeting people who you have already befriended in online communities. 

Moving from community to community can be to see the world, but also to be around like-minded people, driven people. For me personally, there is no way I could sustain 7-8 years of travel with no sense of community. I myself run an online community of some 23,000 people, the fourth largest of its kind in the world - Digital Nomads Israel. And I am working on a new global community called Digital Nomad World, with the idea of connecting us digital nomads with each other to exchange ideas, support, and to share all the love and good ideas that we experience. 

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5. If we are looking for a community-building case study, which country and why?

If we talk about community-driven, Bansko in Bulgaria or the Canary Islands are great examples. In both cases, there are individuals like Matthias in Bansko, or Nacho in the Canary Islands. People who put a lot of effort and risk their own money to create co-living and co-working spaces. They put on conferences for digital nomads, and build up community. They are true leaders, and this helps to create these places as hot spots for nomads. 

When we look at the authorities, I don't see enough initiatives. If we look at Estonia and the e-residency, I don't think this is really geared towards nomads. If we want to focus on nomads, take a look at what Barbados is doing, although the entry price is quite high, as they are targeting higher-earning nomads. 

Countries such as Czechia and Georgia and other countries are also opening up, welcoming people who are earning money abroad. I am happy to say that Zagreb right now at the top in terms of action taken, but we also have places like Bali and Thailand.

Bermuda, Barbados, Dubai are all forming visa policies allowing digital nomads to come. Some countries target different audiences, with Barbados targeting high earners, while Georgia is more accepting of all. Georgia will be interesting to follow, and I think it will benefit a lot. It is becoming popular and the community is starting. It is relatively close to Croatia and the two countries could form a nice travel bubble. 

And Croatia. It was one of the first to attract nomads with the visa. It will be interesting to follow progress to see people take residency, start forming companies. 

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6. How does Croatia rate as a nomad destination in your view, and what should it be doing to raise its profile to digital nomads?

I think Croatia is currently somewhere in the middle at the moment. It has all the great things that nomads are looking for  - lifestyle, nature, city life, beautiful see, affordable, history and easy to move around. It has the basic ingredients. 

What needs to be added is that community, which will take time. But we are seeing leaders like Tanja from Saltwater Nomads taking this forward. The authorities should continue to stay involved, but Croatia has positioned itself very well. It has great potential. Keep being an innovator and grow that community. 

I believe that Zagreb and Croatia are on the right path to become a digital nomad hot spot in the near future.   We are seeing a very rare and unique effort by the local authorities and local community and the digital nomad community. The digital nomad permits, which Croatia came up with as a result of the local community working closely with the local authorities. 

What Tanja is doing at Saltwater Nomads is doing is an amazing achievement, really unique right now in the world. It makes it very attractive for nomads to come to Croatia and spend time. Kudos to everyone involved in this project. Right now a lot of nomads are stuck in one place due to COVID-19, but I believe that once the world opens up, we will see more and more people coming to visit your beautiful country. 

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It is just a matter of time to see initiatives such as Zagreb Digital Nomad Week to bear fruit. This is exactly the right thing to do at the moment, this is what attracts people. Of course, as well as keeping the infrastructure up to date. I am talking about good Internet, encouaging short-term lets, and solving other challenges that nomads face, such as access to banking, access to healthcare, access to local services such as gyms, market opportunities for investments for nomads.

A great place to learn from is Estonia. Take a look at what they did with their e-residency programme, for example. And events. More and more events. Events bring people together. Affordable living and co-working spaces bring people together and helps to strengthen the community. 

And of course, leadership. Every community needs a leader. To have it happen organically is not always easy. I think Tanja is setting an amazing example as a leader in Zagreb and Dubrovnik. With time, you will have more leaders, local people but also people from all over the world. 

Social media is also very important, and digital nomad communities rely more on new forms of media. We see more social networks, more social media, platforms such as Instagram and Tik Tok. Croatia needs to be there to put itself on the map, providing simple information on where to go, where to stay and what to do, tailored for digital nomads. 

But really overall I think Croatia is putting in the right effort, it has the right leaders, including the support of the government which is incredible to see. All this together will make Croatia a hot spot in the next couple of years. 

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7. Tell us about your involvement in Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, and why did you decide to come?

It was an easy decision to come. I have been following Croatia and Tanja for some time. I am happy to take part in every event that helps to grow the community. I am very happy to play a small part in helping all this grow, and I look forward to meeting old friends, making new friends, and taking part in this great event. I will be speaking about community building.

Meet Friday's keynote speaker, Albert Cañigueral, one of the Dubrovnik nomads-in-residence, and recently appointed to lead the Catalan Government's Transparency and Open Data division. Albert will be focusing on the topic of the day, the future of work.  

Meet tomorrow's host - BIZkoshnica, Zagreb Coworking Since 2015: Mirela Marovic Omerzu Interview.

Tourist Board Director Martina Bienenfeld on Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, Ryanair, Tourism in Pandemic

Want to be a Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador and live in the city for a month between July and December? 

For the latest news and features od digital nomads in Croatia, check out the dedicated TCN section

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