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A Scholar’s Write From Anywhere Guide to Choosing the Perfect International City

January 21, 2024

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Unlocking Writing Freedom: A Scholar’s Write From Anywhere Guide

Imagine … you are sitting on a patio of an airy apartment, overlooking a lake, mountains, and serenity somewhere in the Mediterranean. All you have is your laptop, a steaming cup of coffee, and the space to meet your writing goals.

You can have all this and more!

In this write from anywhere guide, we delve into the essential considerations for scholars when selecting an international destination to explore and write from—where a careful balance of work and wanderlust awaits.

 


 

Within the realm of academia and education, one of the best perks is the luxury of extended time off—no teaching commitments, no academic constraints, just vibes.

And for those fortunate enough to have summers free of lectures and seminars, the privilege is extraordinary.

Yet—a summer free of teaching obligations does not mean a vacation from responsibilities entirely. Research projects, impending writing deadlines, and ever-growing to-do lists persist. The summer break becomes a window of opportunity to accomplish everything you couldn’t fit into the academic school year.

This is where the opportunity of work and travel becomes enticing.

For academics and scholars inclined to travel during breaks, but who also have writing goals to meet, the allure of working (whether writing, researching, or contemplating) from any corner of the globe is a tantalizing prospect. The choice of an international city to visit and call home for a short period is an exciting prospect and a major decision, considering all that should be considered.  

10 Things to Consider in Choosing the Perfect International City: The Write From Anywhere Guide

1. Write From Anywhere-Friendly Infrastructure.

Before setting off on your adventure, research the city’s infrastructure and amenities that cater to remote workers like reliable high-speed internet, stable power grid, co-working spaces, cafes and coffee shops, and a general tech-friendly atmosphere. A city with a robust infrastructure can make or break the write from anywhere experience. Sites like NomadList can help you investigate a city’s write-friendly infrastructure.  

2. Community and Networking Opportunities.

This is one of the more crucial points. Living an extended time in a new city in a new country (potentially with a language barrier) can be isolating. A strong community can enhance your overall experience and provide valuable insights into the local culture.

Look for cities with a thriving community of digital nomads and expats, who are similarly situated (working and traveling). Facebook has a group for everything, including nomads and expats in [enter dream destination]. 

When you get to your destination, attend meetups (Meetup.com and Eventbrite can be great options), join co-working spaces, and engage in online forums on Facebook to tap into the collective wisdom of fellow travelers and locals. Join online groups related to your hobbies to find more community. 

3. Cost of Living.

Another critical point to consider is your budget and how it relates to the cost of living of your intended destination. I begin with determining my accommodation budget (usually the most expensive line item). Breaking this down per day/week/month can help contextualize it. Consider the amenities you need (and what could come at additional costs such as utilities, WiFi, etc.). Location is also something to consider – if you have to pay for transportation daily due to your location, this is an added cost. 

After you’ve determined your accommodation budget, look at some options on hotel and accommodation aggregators like Booking.com or Airbnb for an idea of what costs look like. Then look at the exchange rate for the country. Can you afford this? If not, you may need to adjust. NomadList can also help with providing general budget and pricing information.

Some cities offer a lower cost of living without compromising on the quality of life, providing a sweet spot for write from anywhere scholars. My personal favorites are Medellin, Colombia and Mexico City, Mexico. 

4. Cultural Diversity.

Embrace the opportunity to immerse yourself in diverse cultures. Choose a city that aligns with your interests and offers a rich tapestry of experiences or easy access to a variety of experiences. From culinary adventures to exploring historical sites, a culturally vibrant city can add an extra layer of fulfillment to your nomadic journey. This information can be found in blogs, news articles, and word-of-mouth via Facebook groups. 

5. Safety.

Prioritize your well-being by researching the safety of potential destinations. Consider factors such as crime rates and the overall stability of the region. Your government may have an up-to-date travel restriction list as a resource (The U.S. State Department serves as this resource for Americans).

But sometimes shit just happens.

Ensure you have travel insurance in case an emergency evacuation is in order. If you are a part of a marginalized community, it is best to do you due diligence to conduct advance research on the local environment. This is an unfortunate part of travel, but everyone is not welcomed everywhere. If you are American, register in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) before you travel so you are accounted for with the US Embassy.

6. Visa and Legal Considerations.

Before you select a city, make sure you understand the visa requirements in a particular country. Many countries limit the time one can travel within the country. The EU/Schengen Zone limits American visitors to 90 days, while Mexico allows American tourist to visit for up to 180 days. Some nations offer specific visas for digital nomads if you are planning to stay long term, while others may have restrictions.

As a scholar who is writing but also visiting/touring, you will want to be discerning in what you claim your purpose is in the country. More than likely, you are traveling as a tourist but also spending some time writing. If you claim you are working, you will need a separate work visa.

Note. This write from anywhere guide is meant to be a guide, and is not a substitute for any legal advice.

7. Time Zone Compatibility.

If your work involves collaboration with colleagues in specific time zones, consider the local time difference. Choose a destination that allows for effective communication and collaboration without disrupting your work-life balance. North American time zones usually mean late afternoon/evening work hours in Western Europe time zones and Southeast Asian times zones often mean working overnight. 

8. Climate and Environment.

What are your climate and environment preferences? Can you stay focused on your tasks with a beach in the background? What about in the rural countryside surrounded by farmland? Whether you’re drawn to the hustle and bustle of a city or the tranquility of a coastal town, selecting a destination that aligns with your lifestyle preferences can significantly enhance your overall writing and exploring experience.

9. Infrastructure.

Things like public transportation, walkable streets, bike-friendly roads, etc. can be vital for a traveler who may not have access to a car. If you are an active person, the existence of parks, active communities, gyms, and bike lanes could make or break a city. This is another point that can be crowd sourced via Facebook groups. 

10. Personal Comforts.

There are some things we cannot live without. Then there are levels to the other things we think we can’t live without. A self-assessment of these comforts is crucial if you decide to visit another country for an extended period of time. In Spain, it is customary to eat dinner late, while many shops close during the afternoon for siesta. You will have to rely on bottled drinking water in many countries in Central and South America. Read up on local customs and contrast it with your own comforts to make the ultimate decision. 

You will be shocked how much of this information can be crowdsourced in relevant Facebook communities. 

Conclusion

As a write from anywhere scholar, the world is your oyster, and choosing the right international city is a thrilling part of the journey. By carefully evaluating factors in this write from anywhere guide such as infrastructure, cost of living, community, culture, safety, legal considerations, time zone compatibility, and environmental preferences, you can ensure a seamless blend of writing and exploration. Embrace the nomadic lifestyle, and let each destination be a chapter in your ever-evolving story of professional and personal growth. 

And don’t forget, you can join Write From Anywhere in Mexico City this spring. Sign up today! 

What would you add to this write from anywhere guide?

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Alicia Cintron, PhD

Research Public Communications Trainer & Coach + traveling Scholarpreneur

Welcome! Here you’ll find insight, musings, and thoughts about research, public engagement, communication, travel, and higher education. Have an idea for a topic for us to cover? Shoot us a note
 

Alicia Cintron, PhD

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