Career

Want To Plan Your Own Remote Year? Here’s 8 Things To Tick Off

If you like the idea of a remote year but find the fixed timings and destinations offered by some co-working programs not to your exact taste, then you’ll have to plan your own. Here are some things to consider.

There has been a recent rise of programs, such as the Remote Year and Hacker Paradise offering the opportunity for a group of people to work remotely for up to a year, while travelling to different countries for a fixed amount of time. For a fee, the program usually takes care of expenses including accommodation, travel between countries, workspaces and internet connection, and social and networking events.

The only thing is, the fee is the same no matter which destination you travel to (so you’ll be paying the same in Portugal as you would in Bali, which might raise the eyebrows of some savvy Australians). It’s kind of like a tour group for digital nomads – and you’re essentially paying for people to take care of the logistics and facilities to enable you to work on the road.

It’s pretty cool and a fantastic way to meet other like-minded people while working and exploring new cities. But what if you want to plan your own remote year with a little less structure, more freedom and tailored to your exact taste and budget?

With some effort you could have just as amazing a time and save some cash. Here’s how to do it.

#1 Establish if you can work remotely

First thing’s first: do you have a job that enables you to work remotely? This may be an easy question if you’re already working as a lone wolf/freelancer. Is the majority of your work easily done online? If you’re currently working in a full-time job, consider approaching your manager to see if it’d be feasible for you to work remotely. Go in armed with a strong case and remember that going on a remote year isn’t an excuse to take a holiday, it’s taking a year to travel and work simultaneously.

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What if you work in an industry not traditionally associated with remote work such as finance or engineering? Consider whether you can enter the consulting area of your respective field, or think outside the box and brainstorm ideas on how your existing skill set and experience can be harnessed as a digital nomad. Do you have a passion project that may sustain your remote year?

There are many ways in which to work remotely – you just need to exercise some creativity to figure out the best pathway for yourself.

#2 Sort out your finances

Alright, let’s get straight to the finances. There will be an initial outlay in terms of flights, accommodation, living expenses and the time in between getting paid for your work.

With all of these factors to weigh up, you’ll need a sufficient pool of money to kick-start your remote year, as well as back-up savings in case things go slightly pear-shaped or there are payment delays for your freelancing work.

Dedicate time to some serious number crunching, write down all of your expected expenses and figure out if a remote year is financially viable in your current situation. If your finances are in a woeful state: calculate how much you need to get your remote year off the ground and start saving.

#3 Plan your itinerary

Finally, the fun part! Some remote programs move to a different city every month, while other programs base themselves in a city or region for a few months at a time. What do you plan on doing; a little from column A, a little from column B? Bear in mind that travelling to more countries and cities will likely incur greater costs with flights between destinations to consider.

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Consider travelling around low-cost regions such as South-East Asia or Eastern Europe in order to save on travel costs. Nomad List is a fantastic site that tells you the best places to live and work remotely by providing an estimation of monthly living costs, and we also did a round up of our favourite lucrative locations.

#4 Research some co-working hubs

This is great for two reasons. The first is the social and community aspect they offer. It’s easy to feel like you’d be missing out on all the co-working events offered by established programs, but it’s not the case at all. When you join a co-working hub they usually throw socials and events for their own existing community (remember, not everyone is on a pre-organised program). You can meet like-minded people which opens up all sorts of possibilities: you might plan future projects together or find people wanting to travel to the same next destination as yourself. Some hubs even have accommodation.

The second is the ease and security of knowing you’ll have an stable internet connection and any facilities you need to carry out your business. Hubs are usually cool design-savvy spaces, and great places to have client meetings, too.

#5 Plan your accommodation

Accommodation will be a huge expense during your remote year, so you’ll need to be clever to minimise costs. Hostels are always a cheap option, but for longer-term stays, this may not be the ideal choice – you’ll be working during the day so you’ll probably want to retire to your own personal space after going offline.

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Rental sites such as airbnb are always an option, but if you’re keen to connect with locals or other digital nomads, contact the co-working hubs you might be interested in working from and ask them for recommendations on any places or resources that can help you find likeminded people. Also check out coworking.com where you can access forums and ask questions.

If you really want to save cash on accommodation, home exchange sites like HomeExchange or Stay4free, and even housesitting sites such as MindMyHouse are good options. Call in favours and reach out to any friends or relatives living overseas to see if they can take you into their home for a short stint.

#6 Plan how you’ll work

Carefully consider how you are going to drum up work while overseas, as well as where and when you’ll carry out the work. You may have ongoing projects to keep you preoccupied or you may need to continually seek new clients and jobs. Have a concrete plan in mind on how you’ll approach this. Be creative – you may find that your scope of work and clientele will broaden as a result of you being overseas.

To carry out your work, you’ll also need a dedicated workspace, whether it’s in your accommodation, a café down the road or in a rented co-share space. A decent Wi-Fi connection is fundamental and, quite possibly, the key to your sanity, so choosing to work in the Siberian wilderness may not be ideal in this particular context.

Also factor in time-zone differences if you’re going to be dealing with international clients who may expect you to be available during specific hours.

#7 Connect with other digital nomads

Chances are there is someone out there planning to work remotely from the destination that you are planning to travel to. Look into networking groups targeted at digital nomads and other like-minded people and develop contacts before embarking on your remote year.

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Hashtag Nomads is a great website for connecting with other nomads, swapping useful advice and forging friendships with people on a similar journey.

#8 Take the plunge

This is the final and most difficult step. You have projects lined up, you’ve sorted out an itinerary and accommodation, you’ve looked into co-share spaces and you’re in the process of building relationships with other digital nomads. All that’s left to do, is do it. Are you game enough to go on your own remote year?


Camha is a freelance editor and writer currently based in Perth. She is a wannabe word nerd, travel-addict and coffee enthusiast, and thinks that life is just one big Seinfeld episode (where Elaine is her BFF). She has written for Broadsheet, AWOL, The Big Bus and the Huffington Post Australia, and tweets at @curatedbycammi