A desk with a view

We have now been on sabbatical for nine months, and during that time Ben and I have both worked for our respective clients and I’ve written, edited and published one novel and I’m about 1/4 of the way through writing the next.

While we’ve also made time to explore the different locations we’ve visited or lived in, our working life is a big part of the sabbatical. This is a test case: can we live and work abroad for extended periods of time? We never know, this could become our new normal.

The kind of work we both do – Ben developing software, and me writing and editing content – means we need to work at desks. But ‘desk’ can be any flat surface. Ben’s current stand-up desk set up is an ironing board and the box the vacuum cleaner came in – yes, really.

Most of the time, we either use the dining table of the place we’re staying at, or we go to coffee shops. The coffee shop thing is tricky. The seats have to comfortable enough to sit on for at least a couple of hours, the WiFi has to be good, the coffee can’t suck, and there needs to be a generally good ‘vibe’.

Our fave spot so far in Porto is the cafe at the Concert Hall, which has great seats, fast WiFi and a buzz of energy from the groups of people who gather there to catch up or to work. The coffee sucks, but 3 out of 4 isn’t bad. The other day, when it was still sunny and warm, we worked in the park at a picnic table for a couple of hours – divine.

At the lake cabin, I’d often sit on the porch in an Adirondack chair (I love these) and write, stealing glances at the lake view from time to time. In Bali, my favourite place to work was on the sunlounger next to the pool.

So here are some of my fave desks with a view from the year so far.

In the park in Porto
At the park in Porto
Looking out the window in Amsterdam
Amsterdam

 

When in ROAM…

We’ve spent the last two months living in Ubud, Bali at ROAM. And while we have explored Bali during our stay and done some short side trips, the majority of our time has been living and working in a co-living space that’s perfect for the digital nomad lifestyle.

IMG_20180330_094001

The ‘hood

We’ve enjoyed getting to know our neighbourhood of Penestanan, with it’s winding, busy roads and its pathways between the rice fields. We found our local coffee houses, A.R.A.K. (close to ROAM) and Dharma (close to Bintang), our spot for Happy Hour, Element (2 for 1 cocktails and they’re ridiculously tasty!), and some cheap and cheerful places to eat, such as Bayu’s kitchen, Ibu Putu’s Warung, Sri Ratih, Cafe Vespa, and Bamboo Spirit.

We found the ‘back way’ to Bintang supermarket via the pathways, as well as the ATMs that give out 2.5M rupiah (some max out at 1M or 1.5M). We’ve enjoyed some nicer meals at Pacha Mama, Bridges, Elephant, and Roots. We’ve frequently popped across the street to a little convenience store for snacks, Cokes, and cold Bintang. There is a yoga place 5 min away and a gym 15 min away, which is small but affordable and has enough equipment to get the job done. There is also a fantastic running trail, the Campuhan Ridge – the start of the trail is closer to Ubud, but it’s still part of our ‘hood.

The people

ROAM is about people. Since we’ve been here quite a while, we’ve met and said goodbye to many people who have become dear friends – people from all over the world – Greece, Austria, The Netherlands, Ireland, the US, Australia, the UK, Germany, Russia, Canada…and many more places around the world.

We’ve broken bread – both here at ROAM and at various restaurants around Ubud – we’ve taken day trips, sat by the beach, held workshops, done yoga together, hung out, shared drinks and stories, played Cards Against Humanity, and helped each other professionally and personally. We’ve been a family – and just like any family there are those you love, those that you find intriguing, those you learn from, and those who get on your last nerve. 😉 Think of a group of colleagues who work and live together. That’s the ROAMILY.

There also is an incredible team of locals who literally keep ROAM running, including a Community Manager who brings us together, handles any issues, and creates community events.

And last, but definitely not least, there is Lu (Princess Lu, LuLu, Miss Lu), our dog.

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-28,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-Y

She is not technically people, but please don’t tell her that. Unfortunately, there are those that want her gone. This is maddening and upsetting to many of us, as she is as much a part of this family as we are, but there is a plan to re-home her in California with a former ROAMIE. If you’re so inclined, you can donate to help get her there.

The work

While we’ve been here, Ben’s been building an app for a client – which just launched on iOS (Congrats!) and is soon to launch on Android, and I have been both writing and doing some contracted editing work. The writing is going extremely well and I have added nearly 70,000 words to my manuscript, which is the sequel to the book I published last year. It will be ready for a July publication!

There’s a shared work-space on the upper deck, a conference room for quiet and air conditioning, and it’s been fun to work from our little deck or poolside. I’ve also popped out to the coffee house for a few hours at a time for a change of scene. And, we have often taken our work with us when we’ve had day trips, which is a really lovely way to work.

The day-to-day

Certain domestic concerns have been taken off our hands here at ROAM. We don’t wash our towels and sheets, we don’t take out the rubbish and nor do we clean our rooms, which are serviced weekly. The pool, the grounds, the common areas and the plants are all taken care of. Alleviating these tasks frees up an enormous amount of time – at least for me.

We do wash our clothes, shop for and cook our own meals (if we want to eat in) and we clean up after ourselves in the kitchen. ROAM supplies bottled water, but the water in the rooms and kitchen is filtered, so we can brush our teeth with it and wash our fruit and veggies with it.

We share all the common areas – not just the work spaces – so try to be respectful of other people. Laundry is only done on a 20-min cycle, for instance. We each have our own shelves in the fridge and in the pantry, and we share some community food, such as fresh eggs daily, milk and fruit.

There are also weekly events organised by the Community Manager to ensure the community meets new arrivals, gets to see Ubud and other parts of Bali, and gets to experience the community feel that makes ROAM unique.

Would I come again?

In a heartbeat.

Sunset from ROAM

With thanks to Ben Reierson for additional photos, including ‘Sunset from ROAM’ above.

 

Living La Vida Local

Part of being a digital nomad, rather than being on a year-long vacation, is actually living in the places we are visiting.

We are currently based in Ubud, Bali, staying at ROAM, a co-living space where we have our own room and bathroom and share all living and working spaces with other digital nomads.

When people ask us where we live, we say, “For now, we live here.”

ROAM is about 2kms from central Ubud and the pace here is both peaceful and frantic, depending on what we’re doing and where exactly we are. Last week, on day one, we made the 15 minute walk to the supermarket to stock up our pantry and fridge. Most of the walk looked like this:

And the last part looked more like this:

Ubud3

Both have their merits – the scenery and many of the Balinese structures are just beautiful – and we are becoming very agile having to side-step precarious footpath hazards, stray dogs, scooters, and chickens as we make our way around the town and its surrounds.

The trip to the supermarket was fantastic. Yes, it is a large store with a good selection, but I am one of those people who finds it fascinating to trawl around a supermarket in a new place, particularly a new country. We spent well over an hour walking the aisles figuring out how to feed ourselves up to three meals a day in a (reasonably) healthy, affordable, somewhat local way.

Living here also means working here.

And this year, ‘work’ means both writing (like this blog post) and working for clients. I am currently mid-project for a US-based client, which will wrap up by the end of the week. Then I will return to writing Book 2 of the Someone series – Chapter 5 awaits!

There are quite a few options for working at ROAM, as the robust WiFi is accessible everywhere. There is an undercover rooftop work space, but for editing work I prefer the quiet and coolness of the little conference room tucked at the back of the property. (Ben likes it too.)

ROAM1.jpg

It’s still early days yet for me to figure out my favourite place for writing. Perhaps on our little front porch, on a sun lounger by the pool, in the little conference room, or maybe on the rooftop with the other digital nomads.

Living here also means getting out to see what there is to see.

We started today with a stunning walk along the Campuchan Ridge with two of our fellow Roamies, Yuliana from Ukraine and Nana from Denmark. The walk rises away from a riverside temple and meanders along a ridge with views on either side.

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-28,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-Y

It leads to a little village where there are several resorts and even a little coffee shop, where the coffee was excellent – and cheap!

Living here also means the day-to-day stuff of life, like doing laundry and cooking meals.

But it also means that I can have my morning cup of tea and read my emails with this aspect on our little porch.

ROAM4.jpg

We have plans to keep getting out and about – both here in Ubud and further afield in Bali – so we can soak up as much of Bali life as possible. But for now, I feel right at home, and am loving living la vida local.