Working Abroad – Become a digital nomad and beat the winter blues

Hate the long British winter? Me too.

I’ve often dreamed of upping sticks and heading to the sun for winter, to combine work with a change of scene and to beat the winter blues. So, this year, along with some of Progressive Travel Recruitment’s team, I moved to Cape Town for winter. Now, arriving back in the UK, did the reality of working abroad as a digital nomad match the dream?

The short answer is yes. In this article on the best places for digital nomads, Cape Town comes out top. Cape Town was a perfect fit for this digital nomad experiment, with its unique blend of the convenience of a world-class city, with outstanding natural beauty, plus the fact that it’s summer during our winter. These factors, coupled with a love of food and wine (Franschhoek and Stellenbosch are under an hour away) made it an easy choice.

What benefits did the digital nomad life bring?

The benefits were plentiful. Working face-to-face with South African colleagues – rather than the usual Skype calls, was a bonus, and I made plenty of new business contacts.

Another plus of South Africa is that it’s easier to visit other nearby countries. On this occasion I took a business trip to Mauritius, which is an easy 4-hour flight away. For leisure, Namibia and Botswana are even closer.

How easy was it to work in Cape Town?

To be honest, the practicalities weren’t a problem, as I travel a lot. I rented an apartment and worked from the offices of our South African PR partners, Big Ambitions. But for those without connections, there are shared or serviced office providers, and South African hotels are well equipped for flexible working in public spaces. Many meetings were held in hotels – sometimes while sampling some of the finest wines on the planet. There’s no language barrier, things ‘work’ like they do back home, and they even drive on the same side of the road as the UK.

Had I been away for longer than 9 weeks I may have rented out my vacant home in the UK. For anyone thinking of doing that, this article provides useful pointers. Instead, some colleagues used my home for a Christmas holiday – which was a positive outcome. As a team, we had our Christmas get together and group meeting in Dubai, prior to moving on to Cape Town, which beat a UK Christmas outing on a wet December night, hands down.

It’s true that as travel recruitment specialists, our business suits working abroad – or at least being temporary digital nomads. We recruit all over the world. Staff are based in Dubai, South Africa, and the Maldives – our Indian Ocean base, plus 3 UK locations. However, it will work for anyone who just needs a laptop and a phone to do business.

Did I beat the winter blues?

Absolutely – waking up to a big blue sky every morning is a great motivation to get out of bed. But were there downsides? The most noticeable were missing friends, family, and pets. I even started to miss frosty UK mornings. But the other benefit is that I’ve returned home with renewed energy, and it feels great to be a director of a company where being a winter digital nomad is possible.

If you’re looking for more permanent work abroad, see what positions are available here >