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Jun 06, 2019 17:58:28

The end of an era

by @hum | 824 words | 🐣 | 215💌

Sarah Hum

Current day streak: 0🐣
Total posts: 215💌
Total words: 107318 (429 pages 📄)

Andrew tweeted the other day that we are slowing down traveling. It's true. After two years living the digital nomad life, we are settling down for a while. The city we chose is Toronto, my hometown. I don't think it's really hit me yet but I think now's a good time to reflect. I can definitely feel reality creeping in.

We're in Toronto now for two and a half months. We're subletting so it doesn't feel permanent yet. We're off to Seattle for a short stint after this but then we're coming back. At that time, we'll look for more permanent housing. Insane!

I can see me being happy here. My family is here, I have friends here. Toronto is a really cool city. The whole thing feels kind of bitter-sweet. Either way, it's a new phase and something to be excited about.

Leaving SF was mostly my idea. I enjoy seeing the world and I would continue to do so if it was just me. That said, it's not just me. Andrew has made compromises for the last two years so I think it's fair that I make some now. I completely understand the tradeoffs he's had to make and the reasons he wants to settle down. 

First, a quick summary

During these last two years, we’ve lived and worked from 26 cities in 16 countries. London, Lyon, Budapest, Berlin, Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, Seville, Las Palmas, Lisbon, Dubrovnik, Split, SF, NY, Seattle, Vegas, Toronto, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Saigon, Bangkok, Malapascua, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Fukuoka, and Seoul. We usually stayed in each city for about a month. The most memorable were Valencia, Lisbon, Split, and Seoul.

We worked on Canny full-time the entire time. We also started growing our team. We grew from just me and Andrew to a fully remote team of five. In Lisbon and Split, we held our first two team retreats. 

The lifestyle is definitely not for everyone. There's a lot of planning ahead, moving around, and adjusting to unfamiliar places. It's exhausting for a lot of people. I, however, love that stuff. Seeing how locals live, walking around new neighborhoods, discovering hidden gems. All while not having to pay rent at home. Of course, there are challenges but nothing great comes easy.

Not everybody can do what we did or has the means to do it. Desk jobs are called that for a reason. Although our time is ending, I am so grateful for the opportunity to travel for these last two years. 

Remote work continues

Our lifestyle as digital nomads and remote workers have largely overlapped these last two years. We felt the pros and cons both as individuals and as a team.

Remote work is a pretty hot topic these days. Buffer and Zapier are both big proponents for remote work. The remote workforce is continuing to grow. Of course, remote work also comes with its issues. Ryan Hoover wrote a post on the challenges of remote work. There are countless guides on building a remote team

Our team is fully remote and I don't think we'd have it any other way. Without it, we wouldn't have the stellar team that we have now.

Being remote-first meant that we were mindful of the challenges from the beginning. We are still continuing to iterate on our team meetings. We will continue to have team retreats. All we're changing is adding a personal home base.

Nomads write extensively about why they're ending their nomad journey. We've come to experience similar struggles that we'll talk about below.

While we're transitioning out of our digital nomad lifestyle, we're continuing to work remotely. With that, we're leaving some of the struggles of nomad life behind.


Andrew tweeted:

The thing I miss the most is camaraderie. When you're constantly on the move, it's really difficult to make lasting friendships. Especially for an introvert like me. 

I'm an introvert as well. Pushing ourselves to go out and meet people was tough. Especially when you're traveling with someone else so you're even less motivated to seek out new interactions.

Relationships take time to develop—usually longer than one month. When we landed in a city, it took us a while to get set up. Then, we'd be working a lot of the time. There wasn't much opportunity to make connections. Maybe that's just an excuse. It always felt like we'd be leaving in a couple weeks so what's the point?

We were lucky to meet a few awesome people. Those are actually the most memorable moments of our trip. Sadly, we probably won't see those people for a long time. 

Not only was it hard to make new friends, we lost touch with old friends. When we left San Francisco, we left friends we've known for years. Any time we were back stateside, it felt like we were always catching up with people. Now that we're back in Toronto, we have the chance to reconnect for the longer term.

From Sarah Hum's collection:

  • 1

    @hum remember Odysseus:
    Odysseus always longed to go and see new places, and after some time he again set out. The English Poet Lord Alfred Tennyson (in a poem called Ulysses – another name for Odysseus) wrote a few lines about his unquenchable urge to sail the seas:

    For my purpose holds
    To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
    Of all the western stars, until I die.
    It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
    It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
    And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
    Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

    Mike Byrnes avatar Mike Byrnes | Jun 07, 2019 11:58:07
    • 1

      Thanks for sharing this @mikebyrnes!

      Sarah Hum avatar Sarah Hum | Jun 07, 2019 17:02:09
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    @hum wow what an epic adventure! It's really awesome to hear where you've been. I'm definitely in a similar boat, my wife and I both love to travel and have lived all over, and continue to do so! But we always crave those close relationships that you only get when you're finally rooted somewhere, especially at home. But I feel so blessed to work and travel and I'm actually just as excited about being on the road as I am about being at home - it's not an escape from "reality" kind of travel.. I hope you enjoy the next chapter, and I'd be interested to hear about how you find it after some time being settled ?

    Jack Lyons avatar Jack Lyons | Jun 06, 2019 20:14:03
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      @jacklyons definitely on a similar vein as you. I like living and working with a change in scenery. I'm sure we'll still do some traveling here and there. This next chapter will be interesting ?

      Sarah Hum avatar Sarah Hum | Jun 07, 2019 17:04:55
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