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Saturday, April 9, 2022

While some people debate the merits of working from home versus returning to the office, others have decided to forget that dichotomy and work from anywhere. They’re called “digital nomads,” and while the idea isn’t new, the combination of pandemic and digital work has given this lifestyle a boost. They come from many countries and their average age, according to Project Untethered, is 32.

I am lucky to have an adventurous daughter-in-law who is working from Europe for the first time. My son accompanied her for the first week and then returned to Minneapolis. Here is Christo’s experience in her own words:

Christo’s Amsterdam Adventures: April 4, 2022.

We arrived in Amsterdam on March 21st. The day that we arrived all COVID restrictions had been lifted. All restaurants, bars, clubs, and stores were open again like pre-COVID days. Masks are a rare sight out here, but I do occasionally see them if I am walking past a sick person in a pharmacy or passing doctor’s office.

The Airbnb I am staying in is a old classic Dutch home. I have to climb up 5 flights of stairs just to make it to my bedroom. The stairs are very small and steep. We have a nice view of a canal here but its currently obstructed by construction as the city is planning to build a giant underground parking garage.

Life in Amsterdam has been so wonderful. The work culture here is very balanced and more about your personal wellbeing than the day-to-day grind. My days here are spent walking around the city, taking leisurely coffee breaks and people watching. I live in the city center so it’s easy to make it to all the main attractions and parks. When I plan to eat lunch or dinner, I make sure I have no obligations afterwards as it can take up to 3 hours to get our bill. People out here definitely know how to relax and enjoy the moment.

Museum Het Schip: Amsterdam public housing, Amsterdam School of Architecture, 1921.

The friends I met here in the Netherlands are a mixture from Reddit, Airbnb and people I met in Hawaii. From there I meet their friends and we exchange information and we make plans to get coffee, brunch or to grab a drink somewhere. I was never interested in beer but when I had my first sip of beer in over 10 years here it was so smooth, delicious and refreshing. Its safe to say that I have been converted into a beer drinker here.

To go to museums here, you still must book your tickets in advance so that can be a bit tricky with a limited schedule. We were able to see all the main attractions in City Center and the Keukenhof. The Keukenhof is a famous botanical garden in Lisse, it’s about a 30 minute drive outside of Amsterdam. I also took the train to Utrecht. Public transportation out here is very different than what we have available in the US. The trains and buses run efficiently, and they are very clean. The drivers are also friendly and do not hesitate to answer your questions on how to get to places or how to obtain a chipkaart [chip card for public transportation].

Dom Church in Utrecht

In Utrecht, I walked around the city center and saw the Dom Church and tower. Sadly the tower is under maintenance so it was surrounded by more construction. I also had lunch with  my friend inside the Utrech library…..my chicken pot pie was probably the best I’ve ever had. It was a delightful golden flaky pastry with a hearty warm filling. We also took the ferry across the IJ (pronounced Eye), the main waterway that constitutes Amsterdam’s waterfront. The ferries are free here which is a great commuting option for folks who live on North Amsterdam.

I have a friend who lives on the North Side so we spent an evening visiting them talking about local artists, architecture, Dutch language, politics and general day to day life. I also went to a club with a small group of friends here. It felt like pre-COVID days when I was in university and out partying with friends. Everyone was just happy to be around people and to dance.

My adventures here are just beginning so I am looking forward to what happens next. 

-Christo Taylor 

Afterword: An article in Globetrender announced that Italy is making it easier for digital nomads by issuing a one-year visa for foreigners who want to work there temporarily. Other countries that have special long-term visas include “Germany, Portugal, Malta, Croatia, Estonia, and Norway.” Tempted? Check the fine print. Special visas usually have conditions and limitations. Still, some countries find it worthwhile to welcome temporary foreign residents.

Many thanks to Christo for being my foreign correspondent and making this world real to all of us!

Related News Articles:

“ITALY LAUNCHES ONE-YEAR DIGITAL NOMAD VISAS FOR FOREIGNERS,” Globetrender, April 7, 2022. https://globetrender.com/2022/04/07/italy-launches-one-year-digital-nomad-visas-for-foreigners/

“Blue-sky thinking: new rules allow digital nomads to work in the sun,” The Guardian, Monday, March 14, 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2022/mar/14/blue-sky-thinking-new-rules-allow-digital-nomads-to-work-in-the-sun

“Are you a digital nomad? Consider these countries for 2022,” House of Talent. Jan. 27, 2022. https://thenextweb.com/news/are-you-a-digital-nomad-consider-these-countries-for-2022

Other Sources:

“15 Digital Nomad Statistics and Curious Trends [*2022 Update*]’, Project Untethered. 2022. https://www.projectuntethered.com/digital-nomad-statistics/

Why am I doing this:

The pandemic hit like a tsunami and the ripple effect will be felt for decades. World upheavals, deglobalization, housing shortages, the Great Resignation, supply chain disruptions–we’re navigating changes not entirely caused by the pandemic, but accelerated by it. Since March 11, 2020, this blog has examined the modern pandemic experience both in the media and in everyday life, drawing on my experience as a medical technologist, a historian, and an ordinary person living through extraordinary times.

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