Work Remotely? Travel the World While Keeping Your Day Job

John Crux Photography/Getty images
John Crux Photography/Getty images. Other images provided by Roam.John Crux Photography/Getty images

Want to travel the world while still pulling in a steady paycheck? There’s a crop of new remote work programs designed for digital nomads who want to clock into their desk job while camped out on a Belize beach town.

With names like Work to Roam, Remote Year, Roam, and WiFi Tribe, these new companies provide a semi-structured work environment, shared space with fellow nomads, and apartment leases that let you drop your bags into multiple cities around the globe.

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The viability of remote work programs stems from the increased ability to stay connected while offsite. “It took mobile devices, reliable internet in remote corners of the world, and a sense of how to use all of it together to make this lifestyle feasible for more people,” says Bruno Haid, founder of remote co-living project Roam. “It would have been weird just five years ago, but showing up in the company Slack channel from Bali is acceptable today.”

With the Roam program, participants have all utilities, lodging, and access expenses covered in the program fee, which is offered as a six-week plan for $3,000, or three months at $6,000. “The program lets you roam as you want between [our] locations as you choose,” Haid says.

Roam owns three properties — Madrid, Miami, and Bali — that are more comparable to a lodge than a house. The goal is to support the nomad community with plenty of space for events, meetings, and classes. You get your own room, which includes a private bathroom and is fully furnished with a queen- or king-sized bed. Roam provides everything from sheets and towels to silverware and coffee pots.

Additionally, Roam’s workspace is set up as a community-style office featuring battle-tested, high-speed Internet that extends to every corner of the property,  universal power outlets, and office chairs.

Haid says he hopes to expand Roam to 26 chapters and 5 continents by 2018. And any locale is a possibility, as long as Haid can find a space and a few good restaurants. “An ideal Roam location is a place you want to live in for at least a month,” Haid says.

Within the past six months, several other communal living and working projects much like Roam have launched to allow freelancers and contract employees to travel while never losing WiFi or having to sleep on the floor of a hostel again.

But unlike Roam, Work to Roam and Remote Year offer participants the ability to not only work remotely, but also get immersed in the location where they are based, by arranging local activities and volunteer projects. Remote Year also offers more structure, as the name implies. “We take 75 people to 12 cities around the world for one month each,” says Heather Lee, head of marketing at Remote Year. “We provide accommodations for the year, travel between locations, office space with WiFi, and social and professional events.”

The remote-work programs, says Haid, are finding success with professionals who now value freedom over a desk and mortgage. “The postwar ideal was the single-family detached suburban home with a 30-year mortgage, and the possessions you fill it with,” Haid says. “That’s just not appealing to a lot of people anymore.”

Roam members range from twentysomething designers to empty-nesters following their call for adventure. Remote-working programs can be affordable for almost anyone, with monthly fees from WiFi Tribe ranging $800 to $1,800, and Work to Roam coming in at $2,000 for the full program.

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