Every day I speak / chat / work with many of my colleagues and friends. Normal, right? Kinda…
My housemates here in Istanbul are from the US, Germany, Spain, Brazil, and Mexico. The people who work for me on my team are multinational as well – a woman from Poland who is currently living in the Netherlands, and a Canadian.
The other people I work with are currently based in San Francisco, but they tend to move around every few months. A Columbian who has visa issues in every country, thanks to Pablo Escobar, a Dutch woman who spends her time finding places with views, some Spaniards who live in Malaysia work from their laptops on the side while teaching people how to Scuba dive.
It doesn’t seem like any of these people are far away from me. I get online and there they are, no matter where they are.
We discuss life, politics, the weather, work, travel (lots of travel talk…) and how to keep doing what we are doing. While we all come from different backgrounds, care about different things, and have differing methods of travel, one thing we all have in common is difficulty staying in one place.
National borders mean that crossing into different areas costs money, and often requires proof I am who I say I am. Trying to establish a bank account that works around the world means I need a permanent address. My driver’s license currently has a P.O. BOX on it – which excludes me from many foreign bank accounts.
Almost all of my money is virtual – why should I need a physical address? I pay with debit or credit cards, get paid by electronic fund transfer, and rarely see the cash unless I am headed to a cash only bar or little restaurant and when I do, I pull my money out in Lira, Colones, Baht, Kip, Pounds, and Euros.
The difficulties are there, but I accept these as part of the journey. My coworkers and friends are not jetsetters, we are something else. We are leading a revolutionary lifestyle change that will soon be possible for almost everyone. No geographical, national, or political ties. We are people who have roots only on paper. We work in a different country every time our visa’s expire, and work wherever we can find internet.
We utilize a wide variety of tools to make this possible. The internet is the gateway, and the efficient use of it is the key.
Below is a quick list of the tools we use to make this possible:
It is all digital.
- HSBC – international bank with ATMs and branches all over the world.
- Bank of America – Sharing system with banks everywhere, no ATM fees.
- PayPal – Freelance clients pay me with this, and I can pull funds out of an ATM directly or transfer them to a different account.
- Mint.com – Monitors all of my accounts and tells me where I have my money.
- INGdirect.com – Online Bank. Doesn’t exist as a walk in location. Good rates.
- Skype – Voice, video, chat. It is my go to for connecting with someone in “person” or for a quick “Hello Mom!”
- Google Services – Gmail, Gchat, Google Voice, Google Docs, and Google Wave. I use these to manage projects, communicate with team members, maintain a semi- local presence in the US, and organize my life.
- Facebook – Events, where people are in the world, and what is going on in general
- CouchSurfing – Places to stay, things to do, people to meet
- Email – long form conversations
- Skype – Same as above
- Earthclassmail.com – scans my real mail and emails it to me.
- Grooveshark.com – Streaming music everywhere (no US only restrictions)
- ninjavideo.net – TV shows and new movies
- Craigslist – Find short term rentals, classes, activities, climbing partners, and furnishings for wherever I am.
- Kayak.com – US based flights
- Ryanair / Easyjet – Cheap Europe flights
- Tiger air – Cheap Asian Flights
Sounds great – and it is. But it means sacrificing some things many people hold on to as core life values. Friendships from before tend to fade. Hard to maintain these for seven years with only marginal face time. Family life is scarce. Holidays only – and then not always. No stability of location. My home is where I happen to be. It helps that most of the people I live and work with have an “out of site, out of mind” approach to life.
While most people are building up assets- property, cars, clothes – I am checking off places, people, experiences. Here is a quick map of where some of my friends currently live. I could spend the next few years just visiting them – and I just might.