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From Paris to Bali: a conversation with nomad maker Pierre-Gilles Leymarie

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What does it feel to take the plunge and become a nomad maker? Pierre-Gilles Leymarie has been working on an open-source Home Automation software called Gladys for five years, and this summer, he decided to quit his job in Paris to travel and work full-time on this project. “Everyone on Twitter was moving to this digital nomad lifestyle. I wanted to experience it. I love traveling, I love working, so why not do both at the same time?” he recalls.

He was not sure exactly how life would turned out to be, but reading all these messages onlines gave him the confidence to make the jump.

His first destination and current location is Canggu, in Bali. He has travelled around Indonesia, but believes it is important to stay put for more than three months. “I believe that the travel experience is completely different when you stay long term in a place. When you stay one month, you don’t really meet the locals, you don’t really experience the full life here.”

Pierre-Gilles had never been to Asia before. He chose Bali because it offers a great balance: natural, spiritual, and cultural elements that are like nowhere else, but also great infrastructure allowing for productive work. For example, there is 4G everywhere and internet in most coffee places. It also help that life is affordable there. “I live in a popular area of Canggu, and I pay 200€/month for a big bedroom with AC, private bathroom, and a shared swimming pool, all cleaned everyday.”

His biggest challenge as a digital nomad is finding the right work/life balance. He says he works much more in Bali than he used to back in France. “I had almost two hours of commute each day in Paris. Here, it’s only a five minute walk to go to a coffee place.”

But he is also being mindful of his workload an tries to take more breaks. “I used to work during the weekends, but I stopped doing that. Taking two days off is really important.”

Something he has not found too challenging is homesickness. He admits with a smile that he does long for French cheese, but while he misses his friends and family, his quality of life is much better in Bali. “It’s currently freezing in France, and in the meantime I experience 30°C everyday here!”

Part of the experience is also dealing with some of the inconveniences faced by digital nomads. For example, Pierre-Gilles still needs for his family to receive letters on his behalf in France. Accessing a traditional bank account with two-factor authentication can also be complicated. Pierre-Gilles has one finance tip to share: “If you currently live in Europe, sign up for a Revolut card before leaving. You will save tons of money and time.”

The best way to know if digital nomadism is something you could enjoy is to give it a try.

“Find a place, and go!” he urges. “Experience your own travel. Everyone has different expectations, so what is great for others isn’t always great for you. If you don’t like a place, move. It’s as simple as that.”

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