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

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Successful Zagreb Nomad Panel as Rax Suen Hands Over to Anna Maria Kochanska

December 1, 2021 - A great finish to the November ambassadorship of Rax Suen, as his Zagreb Nomad Panel brought 3 nomad ambassadors together, as well as providing plenty of food for thought at BIZkosnica last night. 

It was a very engaging audience of locals, expats and nomads - the youngest of whom was just 13 - to attend the final night of the ambassadorship of Singaporean digital nomad, Rax Suen. 

Rax chose the popular coworking space at BIZkoshnica on Ilica as his venue, with a very lively afterparty at Swanky Mint Hostel. HIs Nomad Table concept proved to be a hit, with some excellent panelists and a very engaged audience. The panel more than succeeded in its aim of providing insights and tips on building remote careers and travel lifestyle under the title 'How to Become a Digital Nomad'.

The panelists:

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Steve Tsentserensky  - United States | Writer, Videomaker

Alyssa Houseknecht  - United States | Branding and Design
Nate Cronk - United States | Sales Copywriter
Anna Maria Kochanska - Poland | Business Development, Cross Cultural Consultant

Two of the panelists were also introduced as Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassadors for December. Anna Maria Kochanska from Poland only arrived in the Croatian capital 4 hours before the panel started, but quickly assumed her role as the December ambassadorship with some great contributions. 

She also found time to give TCN an interview at Swanky late in the evening, as the party started to die down. 

Anna Maria is the sixth and final ambassador in the program, which has seen ambassadors and their partners from USA, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Israel, Singapore and now Poland. She will be joined in December by a Zagreb Special Guest Digital Nomad Ambassador. Ohian Steve Tsentserensky has Zagreb in his blood, and he has been a fantastic promoter of Zagreb and Croatia since arriving almost a year ago. I am delighted that Steve got this recognition, thoroughly deserved. 

Rax also sat down with TCN to give his thoughts on a month in Zagreb, finally producing his trademark yellow glasses for the occasion. 

A wonderful evening all round. The community it getting stronger. 

The Zagreb Nomad Panel video will be posted on the TCN YouTube channel shortly. 

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

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

3 Digital Nomad Ambassadors, 1 Nomad Table, Tonight at BIZkoshnica in Zagreb

November 30, 2021 - Month 5 of the Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador project is coming to an end, with no less than 3 ambassadors taking part in tonight's Nomad Table hosted by Rax Suen.  

I was not quite sure what to expect when Rax Suen from Singapore was selected as the Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for November, but I knew it would take this excellent project into a new direction. And so it has proved. Rax is the first Asian ambassador, and his perspectives on the potential of both Zagreb and Croatia regarding the digital nomad community have been particularly insightful.

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And I think this young man from Singapore has had a little fun along the way, despite the fact that November is perhaps not the most attractive month to visit. One highlight was certainly the outstanding Michelin Starry Nights in Dubrava, raising money to dig wells in Uganda, above. 

Rax is holding his final event this evening at BIZkoshnica coworking space at Ilica 71 at 18:00 (all welcome), when he will be handing over ambassadorial duties to our final ambassador, Anna Maria Kochanska from Poland.

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We will have a lot more from Anna Maria soon, but here is her application vdeo below.

Anna Maria is arriving this afternoon and will be put straight to work at Rax's final event and Nomad Panel and after party at BIZkoshnica.

Actually, Anna Maria is not quite the final ambassador of the project. The project organisers - Saltwater Nomads, TCN, Doma Zagreb and Zagreb Tourist Board also wanted to recognise the efforts of a young American whose blood has been infected with a love of Zagreb, and whose pro bono promotional efforts of Zagreb and Croatia in general have been among the most effective of any this year. 

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Having spent 6 days with Steve Tsentserensky in the car in eastern Croatia recently, his passion for Zagreb is unbridled, and we are delighted to welcome him to the project as the Zagreb Special Guest Digital Nomad Ambassador 2021. Below is the first video of Steve's I ever saw: Subject Zagreb.

Rax has put together a very strong panel for tonight's event:

The event panel brings together a diverse group of digital nomads to share more about their remote work journey, from travel to business and lifestyle. Discussion will include tips and insights to take your lifestyle remote, as well as real world challenges that can arise in a nomadic life.

Panel:
Steve Tsentserensky  - United States | Writer, Videomaker

Alyssa Houseknecht  - United States | Branding and Design
Nate Cronk - United States | Sales Copywriter
Anna Maria Kochanska - Poland | Business Development, Cross Cultural Consultant

See you there!

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

Monday, 22 November 2021

Rax Suen Hosting Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Drinks Meetup on Wednesday

November 22, 2021 - Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Rax Suen announces two events this month - a drinks meetup on Wednesday, followed by a Nomad Panel and afterparty on November 30. 

It has been quite a year for Zagreb on the digital nomad scene, and we are not quite finished yet. After the success of the inaugural Zagreb Digital Nomad Week in June, a collaboration between Saltwater Nomads, TCN and Zagreb Tourist Board, the Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project began in July. This brought 6 nomads to spend one calendar month each in the Croatian capital at Doma Zagreb Aparthotel

So far, we have had nomad ambassadors and their partners from USA, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Israel. This month's ambassador, Rax Suen from Singapore, is bringing a little colour to the streets of Zagreb, and not just with his funky yellow glasses.

In association with the Digital Nomads Croatia Facebook group, TCN, Saltwater and the Zagreb Tourist Board, Rax will be holding two events this month, both of which promise to be enlightening. 

The first coincides with the monthly drinks meetup by the Digital Nomads Croatia Facebook group at Bustan Bar in Varsavka. An evening of travel stories, networking and general fun awaits. There will be speakers with their travel tales, and then an open mike to the floor. 

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And then on November 30, at BIZkoshnica coworking space at Ilica 71, Rax will be hosting a Nomad Panel night with afterparty, as he hands over his ambassadorial duties to December's new arrival. The 'How to Become a Digital Nomad' panel will offer insights and tips into building remote careers and a travel lifestyle.  It all starts at 18:00, and if you are curious about the nomad lifestyle and wondering how you might get started, this is a great networking opportunity.  All welcome. 

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

Sunday, 14 November 2021

Meet the Digital Nomad Week Speakers: Aline Dahmen, Nomad Soulmates

November 14, 2021 - Less than a month until Digital Nomad Week, the virtual edition with 10,000 nomads expected to attend, and more than 100 speakers including TCN. Continuing our look at the keynote speakers, finding love on the road with Aline Dahmen of Nomad Soulmates.

Aline is the co-founder of Nomad Soulmates, the world's largest online community and dating platform for single Digital Nomads, remote workers, and location-independent professionals. She is clearly passionate about creating impact and change, helping nomads to find each other.

Many people have found meaningful connections, friendships and partners through their community, some are married and have little families traveling the world. She will be speaking about dating tips for digital nomads, their newest dating app and what you can do to attract, create and maintain meaningful connections that enrich your life.

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1. You are a keynote speaker at Digital Nomad Week in December. Tell us a little about DNW, why you decided to get involved, and what you will be talking about?

Loneliness is the number one struggle most nomads encounter as they travel the globe, that’s why I  am excited and honored that my dear friend Olumide has asked me to speak at DNW to share our mission to bring traveling remote workers across the globe together for deeper, more meaningful connections. It is important to me that nomads everywhere know they are not alone on the road, they have a huge community that awaits them filled with like minds and spirits.  

2. How does DNW rate on the nomad conference/festival calendar in your opinion in terms of size/importance?

I have been looking forward to this conference ever since Olu shared with me his vision of connecting remote work thought leaders and advocates and their communities all over the world. It’s quite a buzz globally and one of the largest conferences yet this year of its kind. It’s very exciting. 

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(Nomad Soulmates success story - Elena and her partner)

3. You run Nomad Soulmates, a growing community of more than 23,000 single nomads, remote workers and global citizens. Long-term relationships and the DN lifestyle must be quite a challenge, I would have thought. Or am I mistaken? 

You’ll find plenty of nomads that would agree with you. Sure, dating as a nomad comes with additional challenges that come from your choice of living a location-independent lifestyle. It’s not for everyone. But, there is another side of these ‘challenges’ that most people are quick to look past. I’m excited to dive deeper into this at DNW. 

What’s important is learning how to turn these ‘challenges’ into connections. You’re not going to be a match for everyone, but that’s going to be the same regardless if you're traveling the world or not. Long-term relationships are 100% possible, and we celebrate with members in our community all the time when they share that they've met their special someone. 

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(Nomad Soulmates success story - Sara and partner)

4. How does Nomad Soulmates differ from other dating services, and what kind of success have you had? 

We believe that our core strength lies in bringing people together for deep meaningful long-term connections whether they are romantic relationships or friendships. We do this by focusing on the quality of the relationships built vs quantity.

Nomad Soulmates was born out of my conversations with nomadic friends, who were frustrated with short-term flings and nothing really serious. So I set out to build a community for people who have the desire for real, meaningful relationships. Years later, with the help of my co-founders Sebastien, Kimberly and our community, Nomad Soulmates is going strong with a community of over 23,000 members, a thriving Facebook group, an online dating site, and we can’t wait to launch our dating and community app. 

Through our community and the online and offline events we host, members have met their close friends they now travel with, their spouse, and even have started families. 

5. The pandemic put an increased focus on the potential of remote work, but the trend has been building for some time. Where do you think all this will be in 5 years?

I believe that the trend will continue to grow. I have always believed in remote work and how it empowers individuals to live a life on their own terms. We can already see the majority of people valuing the time and freedom of choice they’ve gained through the past year. As the world starts to open up and 5 years from now as we look back I think we will see more and more of these remote workers who’ve found freedom, choosing to live a lifestyle that includes a lot more global exploring while working remotely. With that, we will see more remote families and those looking for love. 

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(Nomad Soulmates success story - Sebastien and Claudia)

6. What would make Croatia an attractive destination for you to visit one day?

I haven't been to Croatia yet, but I'm keen to go! An absolute must that I look for when I travel is a strong, stable Wifi signal, may it be in cute coffee shops, at coworking spaces, or at home so I can work. Also, a warm, welcoming local and nomadic community is important to me. I'm all about exploring new cultures, food, building friendships, outdoor activities and enjoying sports. I know Croatia has a lot to offer, so I'm looking forward to visiting.  

Looking to find your nomad soulmate. Check out the website.

To get your ticket for Digital Nomad Week, check out the event website.

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

 

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Meet the Digital Nomad Week Speakers: Lily Bruns, Draper Startup House

November 10, 2021 - Less than a month until Digital Nomad Week, the virtual edition with 10,000 nomads expected to attend, and more than 100 speakers including TCN. Continuing our look at the keynote speakers, meet community builder Lily Bruns of Draper Startup House.

Lily is an international community builder and content marketer who helps startups tell their story. She is the Country Manager for Thailand at Draper Startup House and she's an avid advocate for digital nomad visas.

1. You are a keynote speaker at Digital Nomad Week in December. Tell us a little about DNW, why you decided to get involved, and what you will be talking about. 

Olumide and I have known each other for a while due to our mutual interest in advocating for digital nomad visas. He knew me as a community connector thanks to my work with Draper Startup House, hosting Clubhouse communities, and he was on my panel at the Work + Travel Summit. When he asked if I would like to lend a hand with Nomad Week and help shape its direction, I was thrilled to jump in as an organizer and moderator. Most of my sessions will focus on policy, infrastructure and communities that enable digital nomads.

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2. How does DNW rate on the nomad conference/festival calendar in your opinion in terms of size/importance?

Lots of similar events are strongly focused on helping newbie nomads join the movement, and I think DN Week will do a great job of this thanks to the wealth of workshops, but this conference is really a who's who of thought-leaders in the movement. People who don't just live the lifestyle, but are committed to shaping the future of the community, and it's always exciting to feel like you're part of creating something rather than just logging on to learn some new tips and tricks.  

Since it's our first year, the jury's still out on what the numbers will be, but I know it's a guaranteed good time because so many of the panels are composed of friends and colleagues having fun and nerding out together. I think audiences appreciate authenticity and will value that more than some of the events that win out on hype and size.

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3. The pandemic put an increased focus on the potential of remote work, but the trend has been building for some time. Where do you think all this will be in 5 years? 

I never would have believed it pre-pandemic, but I think the dream of a "Nomad Passport" can really become a reality thanks to all the countries getting on board with the trends in global mobility! Before, we dreamed of just one country having a proper visa for digital nomads, but now the idea that we can create a Schengen-esque system where one application gets you entry to a network of remote-work friendly countries seems not just likely, but inevitable - and that's going to be GAME-CHANGING.

4. I would like to ask you about Croatia, as that is my primary focus, and I understand you recently visited Zagreb. Tell us a little about your experience of Zagreb and Croatia as a DN destination.  

I really enjoyed Zagreb! I wish I had gotten to spend more time there. I adore European cities for their history, architecture, and walkability. Having previously spent some time in Split, a visit to Zagreb impressed me with Croatia's cultural diversity. There's a lot happening in a relatively small country, and that makes for a fun place to visit. Also, as confusing as it was, I loved that there were so few signs in English and that I was constantly perplexed at what was going on since I didn't know any words besides thank you. In Thailand where I live, because visitors often look different than the locals, you're always spoken to in English. Nobody assumed they ought to speak English to me in Croatia (except at the airport and hostel) which was kind of refreshing.

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5. What is the perception of Croatia as a DN destination, and has it changed in the last 12 months? If yes, in what way? 

When my, mostly American, friends were scrambling to bunker down somewhere during lockdown last year, I think Mexico and Croatia were basically the two options open to them, so I had a lot of friends pass through. I think this really opened people's eyes to the spectacular country that had been there all along, but was flying under the radar. Thanks to the nomad-friendly policies, I think Croatia has a good chance of attracting these types of visitors for years to come, but there's still not a lot known about the community. 

6. You are a community builder. How would you assess the Croatian DN community at the moment. Can you give us a few quick wins to make it stronger?

More coworking spaces please! And places in general that nomads can go to find each other. Coming from Thailand where we have a strong cafe culture and it's very normal to buy a coffee and park with your laptop somewhere for a couple of hours, I was surprised at how hard it was to find places like that in Zagreb. While I noticed plenty of young folks out and about, if it weren't for staying at a Hostel (shoutout to Swanky Mint!) I wouldn't have known where to find my people. The community grows and connects itself when you give it hubs to gather around, so I would really increase the visibility and density of these, and work with local businesses and communities to maintain an active roster of events.

Editor's note: The TCN Guide and Map of Zagreb Co-Working Spaces for future reference.

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7. You are installed as the Croatian Minister of Tourism. What are the next steps you would implement to develop Croatia's DN strategy?

Speak to the Ministers of Education and also Science and Technology! Digital nomads represent an attractive target group for tourism, but we're a community truly devoted to giving back. The easier it is for us to integrate, the more we do give back by teaching, training, starting businesses and more. We're entrepreneurs and explorers, and we represent some of the most educated and professionally privileged people on the planet, so we have a lot to give. 

We also want to learn and understand the places and cultures we move through, so creating experiences and opportunities outside of the urban areas for digital nomads to immerse themselves should also be prioritized. When you travel a lot, many touristy places start looking the same, and the conveniences and amenities are nice, but you also want to get that sense of place and to dig deeper to make the most out of exploring. To me, it's all about exchanging culture, knowledge, and opportunities, not just spending dollars in exchange for photos and Instagram Likes - you know?

You can learn more about Lily Bruns, as well as connect via her official website.

To get your ticket for Digital Nomad Week, check out the event website.

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

Monday, 8 November 2021

Meet the Digital Nomad Week Speakers: Tarek Kholoussy, Nomads Giving Back

November 8, 2021 - Less than a month until Digital Nomad Week, the virtual edition with 10,000 nomads expected to attend, and more than 100 speakers including TCN. Continuing our look at the keynote speakers, meet a nomad giving back - Tarek Kholoussy. 

Tarek is a social entrepreneur with a BSBA from Georgetown and an MBA with honors from New York University. He's founder of social enterprise called Nomads Giving Back! with the vision to inform, inspire and empower you to give back to the communities you call 'home away from home.' Its goal is to help solve the problem "I'd like to give back, but I don't know how" and serve as a bridge between foreigners and local communities through social causes. Tarek and our global tribe welcome anyone who believes in our vision of inspiring social impact to get involved and join the movement! 

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(Colombia Language Skillshare, 2020)

1. You are a keynote speaker at Digital Nomad Week in December. Tell us a little about DNW, why you decided to get involved, and what you will be talking about.

Olúmidé, the founder of Digital Nomad Week, is a good friend of mine. We met more than a couple of years ago; and from the moment we met, we realized that we share similar values and visions for the nomad movement. We both value community, skill sharing and making a positive difference in the local communities we live in.  

I’ll be speaking on the topic of Digital Inclusivity and excited to share what my team and I are doing at Nomads Giving Back & Nomads Skillshare to help upskill local communities through professional training programs and fostering greater inclusivity through scholarship opportunities for those with less fortunate financial situations. We strive to empower global citizens and local communities to learn the skills they desire to live the lives they imagined.

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2. How does DNW rate on the nomad conference/festival calendar in your opinion in terms of size/importance?

DNW is among the most popular and well known nomad conferences around.  This is a wonderful opportunity to share about our impact mission and inspire the nomad movement to share their skills and give back to local communities. Our team and I are excited to see many of the leading voices in the movement are coming together for this special conference! 

3. You have a great project called Nomads Giving Back/ Nomad Skillshare. Tell us a little about that, including a couple of concrete examples of success. 

At Nomads Giving Back, we’re a community of socially-conscious global citizens who inspire you to give back to the communities you call home away from home. We do this through various advocacy, fundraising and volunteering programs.

At Nomads Skillshare, we’re a community of nomads, remote workers and global citizens who empower you to learn the skills to live the life you imagined! 

Our growing team of more than 100 global citizens has already led more than 120 events, panel discussions, masterminds, impact trips, language skillshares, masterclasses, workshops and courses with thousands of attendees.  And we’re actively growing our online communities of thousands more at www.nomadsgivingback.com and www.nomadsskillshare.com where socially-conscious global citizens around the world can connect and learn!

Recently, we launched our courses where students learn professional skills to gain online jobs while offering scholarships for less fortunate people to benefit as well.  We’re proud that our recent one-month course, sponsored through our scholarship fund, on “How to Get Your Dream Online Job” empowered our Indonesian students with the skills and knowledge to get better jobs!  And this month, we’re launching two new courses on “How to Become a Social Media Manager” and “How to Become a Virtual Assistant.”  

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(Bali Impact Adventure, 2019) 

4. The pandemic put an increased focus on the potential of remote work, but the trend has been building for some time. Where do you think all this will be in 5 years?

I’ve had the opportunity to work remotely for more than a dozen years of my twenty-year career - both as a corporate leader as well as a social entrepreneurial nomad.  Since beginning my nomad journey nearly a decade ago, I’ve believed that the nomad movement was going to grow fast. And now, we all know that the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of remote work resulting in rapid exponential growth.  

The two macro forces that were holding back this movement from growing faster have been governments and big businesses. Nowadays, we’re witnessing a sea change from the perspective of both.  Now, Governments are welcoming more foreigners to work remotely and even competing for talent. In just the past year or two, more than 25 countries have introduced new types of visas for remote workers. And now, big businesses are welcoming more openly the new dynamic of working outside the office. Some large employers are now saying: “There’s no office to come back to!”   So with these two macro forces now endorsing remote work more than ever before, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of remote workers living abroad will grow 50-fold over the next five to ten years!  

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(Bali Impact Adventure, Language Skillshare - 2021) 

5. Tell us about your DN experience in Croatia. What was good, and what does Croatia need to focus on to improve?

I visited Croatia a couple of times in 2009 to Hvar and 2017 to Zagreb and Dubrovnik, and really enjoyed both trips. I’ve had the opportunity to explore over 100 countries, and I can honestly say that Croatia is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve seen!  

Nomads tend to gravitate to geographic locations that offer a higher quality of life for a lower cost of living.  And Croatia definitely meets these major criteria, with so much to offer.  Nomads also love places where there are opportunities to work easily, outlets such as coworking hubs working friendly cafes, as well as an attractive calendar and events where it's easy to meet people.   

I’m optimistic that Croatia will continue to grow in numbers and popularity as a nomad destination. I look forward to visiting Croatia again, hopefully soon to experience more of this country’s special culture and amazing people!

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(Dubrovnik, 2017) 

6. You are installed as the Croatian Minister of Tourism. What are the next steps you would implement to develop Croatia's DN strategy?

If I became the Croatian Minister of Tourism, I would make similar recommendations to what I made to the government officials of Argentina who also are aiming to attract digital nomads.  

Recently, I was invited to speak at a large conference called “Nomads BA” in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This is the first ever specialized digital nomad conference sponsored by the local government. And even though I’m not able to join, I’m very excited to see this new trend taking birth of governments endorsing the nomad movement and welcoming foreigners to live and work remotely in their countries.  

For Croatia, I would encourage the adoption of a simple visa process welcoming digital nomads. From what I understand, a new type of visa has been introduced recently but it seems it has some limiting aspects compared to what some other nations are offering.  The more flexible the terms and simple the process, the more nomads will be attracted to come and live longer stretches of time in Croatia. 

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(Župa Dubrovačka, Croatia - 2017)

Other ways that the government could factor into their strategy would be to sponsor a similar large conference as Argentina.  I would also recommend building collaborations with the pioneers in the movement who already lead nomad communities or whose network and influence are strong.  

The easier it is for a foreigner to gain residency and establish businesses legally, the more likely they will stay for years or make it a regular home base.  This could also help Croatia by leading to more local jobs and greater tax revenue.  

Well-coordinated programs and perks would be appealing, which could be supported through local co-working hubs and co-living accommodations.  

Of course, a well-designed Public Relations outreach effort would be helpful.  Connecting with influential news outlets, nomad bloggers and community leaders for mutually-beneficial cross-promotion opportunities.

And what is most important to me, aligned with our mission at Nomads Giving Back and Nomads Skillshare, is to advocate for ways that nomads can connect more with Croatians as well as share their skills and give back to local Croatian communities.  The stronger the nomad’s local relationships, the deeper the nomad’s roots.  And everyone benefits - the nomads and the Croatians.

To learn more about Nomads Giving Back, visit the official website. You can connect with Tarek Kholoussy via LinkedIn.

To get your ticket for Digital Nomad Week, check out the event website.

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

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence 6 Months On: Alyssa Isogawa

October 21, 2021 - In April this year, 10 digital nomads from all over the world came together for the inaugural Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence (DNIR) program. As part of European Freelancer Week 2021, TCN caught up with some of them 6 months on - next up Alyssa Isogawa from California. 

A year ago, the city of Dubrovnik held the first-ever digital nomad conference in Croatia - Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads - as part of European Freelancer Week. The city has made great strides advancing its DN credentials and strategy, thanks in part to the award-winning Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program, which ran from April 23 - May 23. 

 

The program was all the richer for the presence of Alyssa Isogawa from California. TCN caught up with Alyssa 6 months later to get her current perspective on the program, Dubrovnik and the Croatian digital nomad journey.

1. It is 6 months since you arrived in Dubrovnik for the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program. Firstly, a brief look back at that month. How was it for you, and how did it change your perceptions of Dubrovnik as a nomad destination?

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DNiR has completely changed my life. I can’t think of a better way to have jumpstarted my DN journey than spending an entire month around other experienced nomads. There was so much diversity among the group - we varied in nationalities, ages, life experiences, and views. However we all shared the same passion of living unconventionally and not being tied to one location. I am still so amazed by how well we got along. I think back often about my time there and the small, tight-knit community we created, and I feel that I owe so much to this experience and the people who made it happen! (Thanks Paul, the city of Dubrovnik, and of course, Tanja!)

As a first-time nomad, I had no expectations of Dubrovnik as a nomad destination. I left it up to Dubrovnik to shape what nomad life would look like for me. I had previously never read or heard of Dubrovnik being on any nomad lists, so I had very little previous knowledge on what to expect.

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2.  Have you kept in touch with others from the project? Spent any more time in Croatia?

Of course! It’s only been 6 months since DNiR but I have met many of the others in Spain, Estonia, and Croatia. We frequently reach out to each other and plan when and where in the world we will meet next. The friendships I’ve created with the nomads are unlike any I’ve made before. We are all up to something exciting, and it’s fun to see where everyone is. A friend can be in Turkey one day, then Tokyo the next. And we all know that we are all just one plane ride and adventure away from each other. It’s super cool.

I recently spent a month in Split and 10 days in Zagreb. Both places were very different from Dubrovnik and I enjoyed both cities very much. I loved being able to swim and enjoy the wonderful weather every day in Split and I liked the city life and underground feeling of Zagreb. I was also pleasantly surprised by the great vegan options available there as well. I would like to go back again!

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3. It seems that a lot has been happening in the DN scene in the last few months since the program. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, Digital Nomad Valley Zagreb, the Cross Border Coworking Conference in Budva, Croatia performing strongly in the Nomad List 2021 survey. What changes have you noticed since arriving in Dubrovnik back in April?

I’ve seen a lot more exposure and buzz in the nomad community regarding Croatia, and an increasingly positive and progressive attitude and acceptance of nomad-ism in the country/surrounding areas. I am excited to see the momentum continue.

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4. Have you noticed any change in the way Croatia is talked about in the global DN groups you engage with online? In what way if yes?

To be honest, I am not really active in DN groups online as I prefer to travel via word of mouth and meet people I’ve met along my travels. So I can’t comment on this but the nomad visa is something I see mentioned online quite often. 

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5. What would you say are the key next steps for Dubrovnik on this journey, and for Croatia as a whole

I’d like to see Dubrovnik take action on our proposals we created for them in our workshops. One thing that I’m especially keen on seeing them doing is working on the city life outside of the walls, and making it more accessible and cost-effective for nomads (getting rid of the touristy-ness and tourist pricing). I personally prefer visiting places that are not blatantly just for tourists, and I feel Dubrovnik could really benefit from becoming a city that is easily livable all year round. It doesn’t need to become the next Barcelona - I think Dubrovnik just needs to become a holistically livable place that doesn’t sit on its (over)tourism laurels and is a pleasant place to work and live all year long.

I think Zagreb has good potential to be a more popular DN destination. It’s quite livable and while it’s a small city compared to other capitals, it has everything you need. I can see myself coming back in the warmer months and spending some non-schengen time there.

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6. Your favourite memory/experience from DNIR, and when do expect that Dubrovnik will see you next?

Definitely our rooftop parties at Tanja’s apartment. Making food together with all the DNs while partying and enjoying the sunset and the beautiful views in Dubrovnik. So much good conversation and company. I hope we can all have a reunion soon whether in Dubrovnik or somewhere in the world!

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

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Meet the Digital Nomad Week Speakers: Alex Fasulo, The Freelance Fairy

November 3, 2021 - Just over a month until Digital Nomad Week, the virtual edition with 10,000 nomads expected to attend, and more than 100 speakers including TCN. Continuing our look at the keynote speakers, meet the very dynamic Alex Fasulo. 

In 2015, Alex Fasulo quit her job with no plan, no money, and no idea what she was going to do with her life. She dove headfirst into freelancing platform, Fiverr, and have never looked back.

Today, her freelancing businesses generates 350k+ in income per year, and she is using her experience to show everyone what's possible online today. 

 

1. You are a keynote speaker at Digital Nomad Week in December. Tell us a little about DNW, why you decided to get involved, and what you will be talking about.

DNW reached out to me in early 2021 to be one of the keynote speakers for their festival this year, and I could not say no! As a fulltime nomad myself who has been bouncing around while managing multiple businesses for over 7-years, it simply made sense. 

The title of my talk is: How Digital Nomads Rewrote the Rules for Work Around the World. I will be discussing how digital nomads became prominent thought-leaders in a COVID-19 world as a group of individuals who had already made virtual working work for themselves.

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2. How does DNW rate on the nomad conference/festival calendar in your opinion in terms of size/importance?

I consider it to be one of the most important of the year - the roster of speakers they have gathered pretty much includes every single digital nomad driving conversation today. I am very excited to be part of it!

3. Reading your About page on your website is quite breathtaking. You seem to be doing about 400 jobs at the same time. How many hours a day do you work? And do you sleep? 

I do sleep - sort of! I am a bad sleeper. I have been able to function on 5-hours of sleep or so since I was little- my mind never turns off. 

I do admit I am bad at turning down opportunities - it's what it's all about to me. I work anywhere from 20-60 hours per week - depends the season! I do have a team now that includes my best friend and about 5 other independent contractors. I am NOT doing this alone anymore.

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4. Your story and success are an inspiration to those who want to break the normal work cycle. What are the main pieces of advice you give to people wanting to make the leap but afraid to do so. 

I would say to them: you only get one life. It's not meant to be miserable. Take a risk - it pays off. And it's not even a risk today! You can get started freelancing, for example, and it costs you NOTHING! In the past, people had to take out 50k business loans to work for themselves. You can start working on your own, for free. Do it, you won't regret it.

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5. The pandemic put an increased focus on the potential of remote work, but the trend has been building for some time. Where do you think all this will be in 5 years?

I think every industry will be 100% remote. I understand industries like medical need some kind of medical location to function - but with telemedicine on the rise, I think we can virtualize just about every industry except for those few industries when we need to see someone in person. Remote work works for everyone... people are happier, more productive (studies have proven this), and they can travel all over. To be human is to travel and go outside, in my opinion. 

6. I would like to ask you about Croatia, as that is my primary focus. I understand you have not visited yet, but it is on the list. When did Croatia first come on your radar as a DN destination? 

It came onto my list in 2015 because of... Game of Thrones haha!!! I am a HUGEEE GOT nerd and have wanted to visit Croatia ever since the show came out. I actually went to North Ireland in 2018 specifically because of GOT. Of course, I know Croatia is also an incredible country with breathtaking views and robust history - I LOVE learning about history.

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7. What is the perception of Croatia as a DN destination, and has it changed in the last 12 months? If yes, in what way? 

I know Croatia is an affordable destination, which makes it an obvious DN spot. Nomads tend to live in places where they can save money or spend frugally so they don't have to worry about working 10+ hour days. The lifestyle is just as much as the job as a DN.  

8. You are installed as the Croatian Minister of Tourism. What are the next steps you would implement to develop Croatia's DN strategy? 

I would 

1) Prioritize tax/business breaks and loopholes that make it easier for foreign nationals to extend their stay and operate their businesses from Croatia.

2) Launch short-term programs that provide incentives, like tax-free beverages (haha), to DNs for their first three-months in Croatia.

3) Spend lots of time on futuristic marketing using platforms like Reddit and TikTok to reach younger generations about the potential and history of Croatia.

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You can learn more about Alex Fasulo on her official website.

To get your ticket for Digital Nomad Week, check out the event website.

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

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Digital Nomad Week Keynote Nomadic Matt Talks Destination Croatia

October 31, 2021 - With 5 weeks to go until Digital Nomad Week, TCN continues its series interviewing the keynote speakers. Next up Matt Kepnes, aka Nomadic Matt, who recently visited Croatia.

I am really looking forward to speaking at Digital Nomad Week which starts on December 6. It is a great chance to share all the exciting progress taking place in the DN scene in Croatia. Of course, I am a complete unknown on the global nomad scene, so it helps when one of the most recognisble DN personalities happens to be speaking at the same conference.

And happened to think that Croatia is also pretty cool, even more so after a recent visit.   

Nomadic Matt has been a nomad for some time and built a very successful business helping others travel more for less. A New York Times best-selling author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, as well as Ten Years a Nomad, it is safe to say that Nomadic Matt knows a thing or two about the remote work lifestyle. He kindly agreed to an email interview to share his thoughts predominantly about Croatia.  

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1. Digital nomad is a fairly recent buzzword that is catching on globally. You have been at this some time, and have written a book about your first nomadic decade, Ten Years a Nomad. How was being a nomad back then compared to today?

Being a nomad when I started traveling was much, much different than being a nomad today — for better and for worse. When I started, we could only communicate via Internat cafes so you had to rely on guidebooks and actually talk to people to learn new information. 

Today, it's much easier thanks to the internet, apps like Google Maps and Google Translate, and sharing economy apps that can connect you to locals. There are significantly more cheap flights these days too. Those all open up so many new opportunities and make travel much more accessible (which is a big plus).

However, there are also lots of pitfalls. Travelers are all too often just sitting on their phones, ignoring the local culture around them in favor of connecting with people back home. People plan whirlwind trips to snap photos for the 'gram instead of actually soaking in each destination.

So things are better in many ways, but there are also a few pitfalls where we could improve as a community.

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2. You recently visited Croatia and wrote an excellent article called Croatia is Underappreciated. Tell us in a couple of sentences why you think that?

Croatia is one of those destinations that sees a HUGE amount of tourists...but only to a few spots. So, while areas around Dubrovnik and Split might be super busy in the summer, once you get away from the coast, the country is virtually untouched.

We see this happen in lots of countries, as tourists tend to stick to the main highlights and rarely venture off the beaten path. Iceland and Thailand are two popular countries that also struggle with this same phenomenon. Which is all the more reason to get off the beaten path and explore away from the crowds!

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(Photo credit Zagreb Tourist Board)

3. You are an experienced traveller with great insights into the global DN scene. When did Croatia first come on your radar as a nomad destination, and how do you assess Croatia's progress in becoming more attractive to nomads over the last 12 months?

Croatia has actually been on my radar for a while. It's a hub for cheap flights, wild parties, and gorgeous weather — all of which are huge magnets to long-term travelers and digital nomads! But it wasn't until I recently re-visited the country that it really sank in just how great it is for digital nomads. Once I got back on the ground and got away from the coast, I was much more able to appreciate the pros of being a digital nomad here. I think it's only going to continue to grow and attract digital nomads. 

4. A lot of nomads who came to Zagreb Digital Nomad Week were surprised at how much they liked the city and just how digital nomad-friendly it was. Indeed, keynote speaker Dean Kuchel said the only thing missing was more digital nomads. What was your impression of Zagreb from a DN perspective?

I loved Zagreb. It's an underrated city overshadowed by places like Dubrovnik and Split. While it may not have those stunning Dalmatian Coast views, the city has a lot to offer. It's fun, has excellent museums, it's way more affordable than Dubrovnik, and it's right next door to the most unexplored parts of the country. I think it makes for an excellent base for Digital Nomads (and it's also just a great destination to visit for regular travelers). 

5. What are Croatia's comparative advantages in attracting digital nomads, and what are its weaknesses?

I think the main advantage in Croatia is the cost of living. Once you get away from the expensive coast, prices drop drastically. That's a huge advantage when competing for digital nomads. The country is also easy to navigate and has a reliable network of buses and ferries to get you anywhere you need to go on a budget, and there is an abundance of nature to see and explore whenever you need to get away from the computer. 

You're also just a quick bus, train, or flight to elsewhere in Europe (and flights to/from here can be super cheap). 

The downside is that prices are high (and rising) in the main tourist areas, and they get swamped by crowds so you can't really settle into nomad life there as you'd be shoulder to shoulder with visitors all summer. Fortunately, those tourist crowds are easy to escape!

6. You are temporarily installed as the Croatian Minister of Tourism with a brief to develop Croatia's DN strategy. What are the key next steps?

I would try to pivot tourism on the Dalmatian Coast to be more sustainable. I think limiting the number of cruises would be a huge start on that front. Cracking down on Airbnb would also help. 

I'd also try to market other national parks/nature reserves to ease the number of visitors who crowd places like Krka and Plitvice Parks. Tons of tourists visit those places but skip much of the other nature. I think spreading those crowds out would improve the experience at those parks and also ensure they are around for future generations.

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(Photo credit J. Duval/Zagreb Tourist Board)

 

7. And finally, what and where next for Nomadic Matt?

I'm actually in Oaxaca, Mexico right now, and I'll be heading to Brazil at the end of the year for New Year's. After that, who knows where I'll end up. That's the joy of being a digital nomad!

For more details about Digital Nomad Week, which kicks off on December 6, visit the official website

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

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