How Nomads Rate NZ
WHILE New Zealand isn’t the highest-ranked digital nomad destination in the world, because of the cost of living, what do visiting nomads think about their work experience here?
Robert Crocker A 28-year- old American with a background in IT working freelance in data visualisation – a way of making data easier to understand. He’s been working as a nomad for the past year and has visited 10 countries.
Why New Zealand? To speak to a data visualisation group in Auckland, meet friends and stir up new leads for my work. Why work as a nomad? The DN lifestyle feels very natural to me. No need for expensive clothes or excessive material goods. You also don’t have to waste unnecessary time commuting. Where did you base yourself? A cafe in Imperial Lane, Auckland. I couch-surfed at a friend’s place. Otherwise it would have cost me around $1000 a fortnight to live. You stayed just a few weeks? I could have worked in New Zealand if I had the right visa and more time. My skills are rare and sought-after, but only in small circles. How do you rate the country as a nomad? I love how everyone is kind and welcoming. The food is delicious. But I found work relationships in New Zealand are built on trust over a long period of time. Time is a luxury for nomads. We don’t have it; we need to get into a country, make contacts and get people to trust that we can deliver what they need. New Zealand has a way to go in that respect.
Tom Finn A 25-year- old Canadian working for Space Squirrel (spacesquirrel.co), a company building apps for the Shopify e- commerce platform. The founders are based in the UK, but there are remote workers in Bangladesh, Luxembourg and New Zealand.
Why New Zealand? I met my partner, a Kiwi, in Canada. I love the outdoors and the massive diversity in New Zealand’s landscape. Why work as a nomad? In Canada, I worked remotely for Shopify and the life grew on me. Without a “place of work” per se, I’m free to work where and when I want. I’ll keep going as long as it’s financially viable. Where do you base yourself? I’ve worked in co-working spaces like Ministry of Awesome in Christchurch, where I’m based now. I also enjoy just going to a park and working from my phone when I can. How do you rate the country as a nomad? It’s more expensive than Canada, especially groceries and eating out, but phone plans are much cheaper, especially if you use lots of data, like I do. It’s good fibre is being rolled out; it makes such a difference. Unfortunately, in the remote places in New Zealand that are most beautiful, it’s hard to find a wifi connection and a place to work. I think the community of nomads here will grow as resources improve.
Jonathan H. Lee A 32-year- old Hong Kong-born photographer and videographer, who has lived most of his life in the US. He works mainly on environmental and social enterprise projects, and left the US in 2009 to work and travel as a digital nomad.
Why New Zealand? The country had been on my radar for 10 years because of its natural beauty. A friend contacted me a couple of years ago about an urban food hub getting underway in Christchurch, sparked by the earthquake. I have an interest in urban food, so I booked my ticket for the Social Enterprise World Forum, in Christchurch in September last year. Why work as a nomad? I like that I can combine my hobby and my work in different places around the world. You can meet people with similar passions for the work you do. Where do you base yourself? Out of cafes and people’s homes, if I’m working independently. I also have a hot desk at the Ministry of Awesome while I’m working on a collaborative project with them. How do you rate the country as a nomad? Naturally, it’s very beautiful. But, for a small country, it also has a lot of innovative people working in the social and environmental space. I was going to spend three months here, but I think it will be at least six months. +
Above: Hong Kong-born Jonathan H. Lee works out of cafes and other people’s homes. Above right: American Robert Crocker has been a nomad for 10 years.