Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence 6 Months On: Alyssa Isogawa

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A year ago, the city of Dubrovnik held the first-ever digital nomad conference in Croatia – Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads – as part of European Freelancer Week. The city has made great strides advancing its DN credentials and strategy, thanks in part to the award-winning Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program, which ran from April 23 – May 23. 


The program was all the richer for the presence of Alyssa Isogawa from California. TCN caught up with Alyssa 6 months later to get her current perspective on the program, Dubrovnik and the Croatian digital nomad journey.

1. It is 6 months since you arrived in Dubrovnik for the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program. Firstly, a brief look back at that month. How was it for you, and how did it change your perceptions of Dubrovnik as a nomad destination?


DNiR has completely changed my life. I can’t think of a better way to have jumpstarted my DN journey than spending an entire month around other experienced nomads. There was so much diversity among the group – we varied in nationalities, ages, life experiences, and views. However we all shared the same passion of living unconventionally and not being tied to one location. I am still so amazed by how well we got along. I think back often about my time there and the small, tight-knit community we created, and I feel that I owe so much to this experience and the people who made it happen! (Thanks Paul, the city of Dubrovnik, and of course, Tanja!)

As a first-time nomad, I had no expectations of Dubrovnik as a nomad destination. I left it up to Dubrovnik to shape what nomad life would look like for me. I had previously never read or heard of Dubrovnik being on any nomad lists, so I had very little previous knowledge on what to expect.


2.  Have you kept in touch with others from the project? Spent any more time in Croatia?

Of course! It’s only been 6 months since DNiR but I have met many of the others in Spain, Estonia, and Croatia. We frequently reach out to each other and plan when and where in the world we will meet next. The friendships I’ve created with the nomads are unlike any I’ve made before. We are all up to something exciting, and it’s fun to see where everyone is. A friend can be in Turkey one day, then Tokyo the next. And we all know that we are all just one plane ride and adventure away from each other. It’s super cool.

I recently spent a month in Split and 10 days in Zagreb. Both places were very different from Dubrovnik and I enjoyed both cities very much. I loved being able to swim and enjoy the wonderful weather every day in Split and I liked the city life and underground feeling of Zagreb. I was also pleasantly surprised by the great vegan options available there as well. I would like to go back again!


3. It seems that a lot has been happening in the DN scene in the last few months since the program. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, Digital Nomad Valley Zagreb, the Cross Border Coworking Conference in Budva, Croatia performing strongly in the Nomad List 2021 survey. What changes have you noticed since arriving in Dubrovnik back in April?

I’ve seen a lot more exposure and buzz in the nomad community regarding Croatia, and an increasingly positive and progressive attitude and acceptance of nomad-ism in the country/surrounding areas. I am excited to see the momentum continue.


4. Have you noticed any change in the way Croatia is talked about in the global DN groups you engage with online? In what way if yes?

To be honest, I am not really active in DN groups online as I prefer to travel via word of mouth and meet people I’ve met along my travels. So I can’t comment on this but the nomad visa is something I see mentioned online quite often. 


5. What would you say are the key next steps for Dubrovnik on this journey, and for Croatia as a whole

I’d like to see Dubrovnik take action on our proposals we created for them in our workshops. One thing that I’m especially keen on seeing them doing is working on the city life outside of the walls, and making it more accessible and cost-effective for nomads (getting rid of the touristy-ness and tourist pricing). I personally prefer visiting places that are not blatantly just for tourists, and I feel Dubrovnik could really benefit from becoming a city that is easily livable all year round. It doesn’t need to become the next Barcelona – I think Dubrovnik just needs to become a holistically livable place that doesn’t sit on its (over)tourism laurels and is a pleasant place to work and live all year long.

I think Zagreb has good potential to be a more popular DN destination. It’s quite livable and while it’s a small city compared to other capitals, it has everything you need. I can see myself coming back in the warmer months and spending some non-schengen time there.


6. Your favourite memory/experience from DNIR, and when do expect that Dubrovnik will see you next?

Definitely our rooftop parties at Tanja’s apartment. Making food together with all the DNs while partying and enjoying the sunset and the beautiful views in Dubrovnik. So much good conversation and company. I hope we can all have a reunion soon whether in Dubrovnik or somewhere in the world!

For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section


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