Wish you could travel more? If so, you’re not alone. According to Expedia MediaSolutions, millennials travel 35 days per year on average — more than any other age group. And if you’re like me, even that amount of travel likely isn’t enough to satisfy your wanderlust.
For many millennials, such as Janet Barton, the only thing holding them back is the number of vacation days they have at work.
“I’d love to travel more, but I have to balance that with the fact that I only get 10 paid vacation days a year,” Barton said. “My boss lets me work from home sometimes, and I’d really like to explore more opportunities for remote work.”
If you’re interested in working while traveling, Remote Year might be the solution you’re seeking.
What is Remote Year?
Remote Year is a company that provides professionals, freelancers, and entrepreneurs a chance to travel abroad while they’re working and earning money. You live in a city, using housing and coworking arrangements set up by the company for a month, and at the end of the allotted time, you move on to a new city. With its year-long program, you’d live in 12 cities across the globe.
Remote Year started by offering only 12-month programs. It now provides four-month stints for people who find it too difficult (or too expensive) to get away for a full year.
“I was able to experience new countries while still building my business,” said Ashe Whitener, a Remote Year participant.
Even though Whitener dropped out of the 12-month program partway, he found value in having someone else make all his travel and living arrangements so that he had time to focus on growing his business called Liberty Entrepreneurs.
“Originally, I wasn’t comfortable traveling in Asia on my own, without any experience,” Whitener said. “Remote Year takes care of everything you need to get settled so you can focus on what matters.”
In addition to setting you up and arranging your travel, the company also offers three experiences each month, providing you with a chance to get a feel for the local flavor.
Plus, you have access to an instant community, according to Lauren Duffield, who participated in the Remote Year program. “Being surrounded by like-minded, ambitious people helped me move forward in my career,” she said. “I also made lifelong friends.”
How much does the Remote Year program cost?
“You really need a source of income if you want to do Remote Year,” said Whitener. “It’s kind of pricey, although for what you get, it’s not a terrible deal.”
It costs $2,000 a month to participate, whether you choose a 12-month or four-month itinerary. The 12-month itinerary requires an upfront payment of $5,000, part of which is applied to the last month’s fee. There’s an upfront payment of $3,000 for a four-month stint.
Here’s what you get for your money:
- Access to a 24/7 coworking space within 30 minutes’ walking distance of your housing
- Educational and cultural activities in your locality
- Transportation between the first and last cities on the itinerary
- A private, furnished room (you might have to share a house or apartment)
- Access to local and traveling support staff
Beyond the excursions, you’re responsible for your food and entertainment. Whitener and Duffield pointed out that having a built-in community of participants provided plenty of opportunities to find people to do things with.
“You’re really paying for convenience and travel in a lot of these cities,” Whitener said.
He abandoned the program after falling in love with Chiang Mai, Thailand. He stayed back and divided the last eight months between Chiang Mai, a haven for digital nomads, and traveling through Indonesia.
“I’ve been able to live really well, having a place of my own and never cooking my own food, for about $600 or $700 a month,” Whitener said. “If you aren’t afraid to make your own arrangements and you learn the city, it’s easy to live on much less than $2,000 a month in many Asian, Eastern European, and Latin American countries.”
Can you have a regular job and do Remote Year?
“I’d say that most of the participants in my cohort had traditional jobs,” said Whitener. “And Remote Year played a role in helping them present the benefits of telecommuting to their employers.”
That’s right — the company will help you build a case to persuade your employer to let you work from anywhere. However, you do need a job that relies on technology and your ability to work on your own.
Here’s a breakdown of the jobs that Remote Year participants had in October 2017:
Duffield said access to reliable, high-speed internet was key to helping her maintain her income throughout the program as a part-time consultant for an app company and as an entrepreneur. Weekly calls using the Zoom app kept her on task, and she regularly used the coworking space provided.
“Working remotely is the only way I can imagine my future,” said Duffield. “Although, I think I’d like to stay in one place longer than a month.”
How to apply for Remote Year
Applying for the program is relatively easy. After hitting the prominent “get started” button on the company’s website and entering your name and email, you’re asked a series of questions about your work situation and income.
Remote Year makes it clear that it isn’t an employer. Instead, you’re paying for the experience it provides, so the company wants to make sure you’re a good fit. If you mark that you’re unemployed, you receive a warning like the one below, saying Remote Year expects you to make a plan to afford the program.
After you answer the screening questions and if it deems you to be a good fit, Remote Year asks you to schedule a 10-to-15-minute call to speak with a representative. Only after the phone call will you be accepted into the program.
Is Remote Year worth it?
For the most part, Duffield said, Remote Year was a positive experience and well worth the cost. She found the program a great way to get a feel for world travel while working.
Whitener was a little more ambivalent about the benefits. He wished there were more entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and side-hustlers looking for a flexible lifestyle in his cohort. He said he found the lifestyle too confining and structured for his tastes.
And Barton? She’s intrigued by the four-month option if she can save up for the deposit. That’s something her boss might let her do since much of her work is ideal for a remote setup.
“It looks expensive, but I like that it’s practically all-inclusive,” said Barton, a manager of operations and planning for a company in Idaho Falls, Idaho. “With instant friends and everything done for you, it looks like a good fit for someone like me.”
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