First, let’s do a little introduction into the freelance market: based on a study from the Freelancers Union and Upwork, the US has about 53 million freelancers.
The idea of ditching the office and working in paradise sounds great—and guess what? For a growing number of ambitious, independent workers who are also passionate about travel (you might know of them as “digital nomads”), it really is.
There are 55 million (and counting) freelancers in the U.S. alone, and a significant percentage of this community works remotely. But for some, like our latest featured Hustler, a “remote” office takes on a much different meaning than the local coffee shop.
Rebecca Males is a digital nomad who has turned her passion for travel and remote working into a bustling business. She is co-founder of Nomad House, a “Real World” meets “WeWork” hybrid designed to bring unique and talented freelancers together in exciting and oftentimes exotic locales. We sat down with Rebecca to hear about how the Nomad House began, her favorite part about being a nomad (she calls it “lifestyle design”) and what motivates her most.
Tell us about how you met your co-founder, Arthur Itey.
[Arthur and I] both have freelance backgrounds: mine as a social media and content writer, Arthur as a designer and developer. We’d both been living the digital nomad lifestyle, but we both knew we worked better, we were more creative and had more fun when surrounded by like-minded people.
Arthur was looking for someone to start on the marketing for Nomad House in its very early stages. It looked a little different in the beginning, but I knew his values aligned with mine, so we began working together and built the trips into what they are today.
What is your favorite part of living a nomadic lifestyle?
For me, it’s being able to design your day. Admittedly, we use this ability to travel, to meet other people in the same situation and use our extra hours for exploring or working on projects that mean a lot to us. However, that ability can also be used if you’re a working mum, if you want to stay in your hometown, or you want to change countries every month. That element of “lifestyle design” is a huge part of nomadism.
What do people tend to get wrong when it comes to digital nomads?
The most common misconception is that we’re all entrepreneurs, or working on the next big start-up—it’s not like that. Some of us, if not most of us, have traditional jobs that we choose to do remotely. There is no “normal” either. You might be living with an illustrator one day and a tattoo-start-up creator the next. That’s the fun of joining Nomad House.
Can you tell us some highlights from your most recent trip to Costa Rica?
On the first day of the Costa Rica trip, we surprised the group with a boat trip. Mid-week, we hosted a Show & Tell in which we asked people to share their secret side projects. One guest shared excerpts from a novel he was working on, another demonstrated how you can use essential oils in your daily routine, and others dipped into meditation, psychology, engineering, politics and even board games.
Any other highlights from past trips?
One of our guests fell so in love with Bali that he started looking at plots of land there, ready to create a home for new nomads. We’re pretty inspired by all of our guests though. They’re brave enough to say they’re ready for change, they go out to seek it, and we really respect that. It’s not an easy decision, but once you’ve made the jump it’s worth it.
Where’s the next Nomad House?
We’ll be releasing the details around a Barcelona trip soon, but if you’re interested you can send an open application on nomadhouse.io/apply. We review all applications, and spaces are allocated on a first come, first serve basis. We’re planning to spend June living, working and exploring Barcelona.
Have your trips gained more momentum as the digital nomad movement expands?
Absolutely. We feel like we’ve started to gain recognition—our guests have been saying great things, and [the momentum] has definitely been felt. Knowing that guest have had a great time is a strong motivator for us. We just want to continue creating these experiences, creating connections and building a global travel community. People are interested in this new way of living—and we’re here to make it happen.