The next time we are on a webinar, if I tell you where I am sitting, I bet you’ll be surprised.
Until recently, you could have safely guessed that I was sitting in my home office in a small town in Massachusetts. But now, even though I sound the same, I am actually half way across the world. Same work, different desk.
My husband and I both have jobs that allow us to work remotely. This year we decided to finally act on an idea that we’ve been talking about for a long time. We moved to Europe.
No, we are not living in a villa in Tuscany. It’s a bit rougher than that. We moved to Sofia, Bulgaria.
We chose Bulgaria because we are doing a volunteer teaching program (in English) with foreigners and refugees. It is both scary and exciting to be able to accomplish this goal that we have had for several years. And the only way that this is possible is because we have the flexibility to work online.
When I tell people where I am, the most common questions are:
Where is Bulgaria?
In Eastern Europe, above Greece and Turkey. Below Romania.
What language do they speak in Bulgaria?
Bulgarian, which uses the Cyrillic alphabet. No, I don’t speak Bulgarian…yet.
Are you still planning to work?
Yes. My husband has told me that we are still too young to retire. Volunteer work does not pay the bills and I enjoy my jobs. I have turned over some of my “Director of Marketing” responsibilities to my very capable colleague, Amy. I am extremely grateful for the support and flexibility I have been shown by everyone at CAL Business Solutions.
Why did you choose Bulgaria?
Since my husband is a German citizen, it is relativity easy for us to get residency in any EU country. We chose Sofia because it is a modern European capital city, yet the cost of living is still quite low. And they have fantastic high-speed Internet service. I’ve heard several Bulgarians brag that their country has the “fastest Internet in Europe”. My skeptical friend Amber Bell researched this and quickly found it to be untrue, but I’ll let them believe what they like. Check out stats for Sofia, Bulgaria on the "Nomad List".
Is it difficult to work outside the US?
The most challenging part of working from abroad is the time difference. Scheduling phone calls and webinars takes some calculation, so I end up staying up quite late at night in order to talk to people in California. And it will certainly be harder for me to attend events. Otherwise, I can do the exact same work here as I would do at home. I always have a reliable connection and I use a VPN service that makes it seem like I am browsing from an IP address in the USA to make it easier to login to US websites.
How long do you plan to stay?
We are not sure how long we will stay, circumstances can change at any time. But we hope to be here for at least a year or more. And I plan to be back in the USA at least twice a year for events, both personal and professional.
We still own a home in Massachusetts so that will continue to be our home base. But we currently have it listed on Airbnb as a vacation rental. (Do me a favor and click on the listing, and even add it to your Airbnb wishlist, as that helps our search rankings.)
Now You Know
When we were making our plans, a few work friends told me that I should not let the Dynamics community know that I was outside the USA. They worried that I would be seen as less committed or less able to fulfill my obligations.
But I think our community is a pretty open-minded group. And most people who know me already realize that I don’t lead what others would consider a “normal” life. One of my favorite comments ever was from my boss, George, when I had just finished asking for time off for yet another adventure. He said, “Well, you guys sure do a lot of things nobody else would do.” Best compliment ever.
So far, everyone that I have told has been very excited for me. And a few people are downright jealous and tell me how much they would love to be a “digital nomad” and do something similar.
In fact, if we work together I don’t think that you will even realize that I am abroad, except for the fact that the 7-hour time difference means you could receive emails from me in the wee hours of the morning.
Don’t worry, I am not actually working at 3 a.m. I’m likely at a cute café already drinking my second cappuccino of the day.
By Anya Ciecierski, Collaboration Works Marketing
Follow me on Twitter: @AnyaCWMktg
Here is a good article to check out: How to Become a Digital Nomad in 8 Steps (by a Digital Nomad)