Four years ago I abandoned a fledgling legal career to become a professional software developer. I couldn’t be happier with how its turned out. I’ve enjoyed the last four years very much. Our skills are in high demand, jobs are plentiful, working conditions are good and we receive all kinds of perks. But there is one perk in particular I value above all others: working remotely 100% of the time. After a lot of thought, I’ve decided to try to become a digital nomad, moving from place to place every few weeks or months, experiencing all the joys of travel while simultaneously writing software either as a paid consultant or entrepreneur.
I didn’t make this decision lightly. I loved my last job at Soundcloud in Berlin and without my experience there this would be a lot harder. They’re a great company. Unlike when I was working as a lawyer, I have many good professional options!
There are lots of downsides to freelancing, like managing your own taxes, health care, and retirement, unpredictable cash flow, and losing the camaraderie of your coworkers. I’ll manage the taxes by hiring an accountant in the US, and one in the country where I’m living if I stay there long enough. Health care I’ll buy on the private market, and retirement I’ll manage by contributing to a retirement account. I’ll try to manage cash flow by having enough in savings to outlast a long dry spell, and find camaraderie by renting a desk in a coworking space. Despite all this I’m going to give it a shot, and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll happily go back to being an ordinary developer at one of the many great companies in this industry.
When you can live anywhere, choosing where to live is an embarrassment of riches. For my first stop, I’ve chosen Barcelona, Spain. It’s my favorite place in Europe: the food, nature, and weather are top-notch, the vibe suits me well, and there’s a tech/startup scene I hope to plug in to. The Internet is fast there and lodging isn’t too expensive. I’ve dived into Spanish study and am looking forward to sharing a language with over 400 million native speakers.
Wish me luck!