August 27, 2020- As the number of digital nomads rises globally, some are choosing to spend some of their time in Croatia. Continuing our TCN series meeting international digital nomads calling Croatia their temporary home. Meet Cyndie Burkhardt, from NYC to Global Citizen to Split.
As recently featured on TCN, the world is projected to have a billion digital nomads by 2035, people from all over the world doing all manner of jobs and business with one thing in common – a flexible, mobile workplace connected to the Internet. If even a fracture of that number becomes a reality, the economic opportunity for countries which can attract these wealth-generating individuals has the potential to dwarf Croatia’s current tourism revenues. And there are few countries better placed than Croatia to take advantage. Safe, beautiful, great gourmet scene, top tourist destination, English is widely spoken, well connected to other destinations, and a superb lifestyle.
In order to look at the issue in more detail, we have decided to look at some of the digital nomads who have Croatia in their lifestyle plan, and to find out why Croatia, what Croatia offers, and what are the things that countries should be looking out for to take advantage of this economic opportunity. I am very grateful to Tanja Polegubic from Split’s waterfront co-working space, Saltwater in Split for her help in connecting me to various digital nomads using her space.
Our next digital nomad in Croatia is Cyndie Burkhardt currently in Split, a long way from home in New York City.
Split has a growing number of digital nomads. Tell us briefly who you are and what you do.
Hi, I’m Cyndie Burkhardt and I’m from New York City, in the U.S. I’m a certified holistic health coach, photographer, and digital storyteller. A year ago I left my home to travel and live in 12 countries in 12 months. My plan was to explore health and wellness in different societies around the world, learning first-hand, from real people. I found diverse healing practices, met a lot of interesting characters, had amazing experiences, and gained a broader perspective on what “health” means. All along, I photographed and wrote about these adventures and created stories that are told through the lens of lifestyle and culture. (The project is on my website.) Then COVID-19 cut my travels short. My journey took a different turn and unfolded in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I arrived in Split on March 1 and a week later travel restrictions, shutdowns, and flight cancellations were being put into effect. I decided to stay because Croatia was very responsive to the pandemic early on and it seemed safe here.
You originally planned to be here for one month and now it’s much longer. How does this affect your work?
First of all, let me say that staying here longer than a month has given me an opportunity to get to know Croatia better, which I’m super excited about. I’m happy for every chance to see more of this beautiful country and meet its people. Being a little more settled, meaning I don’t have to pack up all of my things and race off to the next destination, has helped me create a workflow and a routine. Instead of rushing to complete my project in a few weeks, I’m able to develop it in more detail. I’m looking at long-term work opportunities which are remote and web-based. I would love to start something here, possibly collaborating with local Croatians and expats.
Working from a laptop rather than an office seems like an ideal lifestyle. What are the pros and cons?
I’ve been working remotely on a laptop for several years, sometimes from home and sometimes from an office or workspace. The pros are being in control of my schedule, for the most part, and having the freedom to work in different locations. I have more flexibility to schedule the time I need for self-care, for cooking and eating good food (better than grabbing fast food or eating out, which is typical with office life), getting enough sleep, exercising, and socializing. Being able to structure my days to include things that are important to me while still getting my work done empowers me to work harder when I am on the computer. I’m probably more efficient with work because I can completely manage my own time.
That being said, the cons are the ease of jumping on the computer at any time and sometimes working too much, having to maintain some sort of organized structure to connect with people who work within traditional work hours and also different time zones, and often being isolated and alone. It’s important for me to find time outside, whether that means jumping into a workspace or a café periodically to change my environment and to be around other people. Sometimes it’s just going for a walk to clear my head.
How did you choose Croatia and specifically Split?
I visited Croatia 19 years ago, in Istria, and I loved it. I always wanted to come back and spend more time here and see the entire Dalmatian Coast and the islands. Of course, I had no idea how things would turn out to make my dream come true! When I decided to travel, I went with a company called Remote Year and Split was on their itinerary. The company considered the country and the city safe, well-connected, and wired for a digital working community. It’s got great atmosphere, people, food, and the healthful Mediterranean lifestyle. I also learned about “pomalo.” Things fell into place perfectly.
For me personally, discovering the expat community and continuing to meet new friends has been a huge bonus. I grew up on the East Coast of the U.S., in Cape May, New Jersey, at the seashore. It is identical to Split in terms of being a small beach community, the tourism season, the weather (minus your crazy bura and jugo winds!), plus the brilliant sun, salty air, and refreshing water. Being here completely resonates with me and makes me so happy, it’s the best of both worlds for work and lifestyle. I’ve had nothing but great days and experiences here.
What’s important for a destination to offer to be compatible with a digital nomad lifestyle, apart from good WiFi?
Strong and reliable WiFi is most certainly on top on the list. It’s also important to have thriving co-working space(s) so there’s an environment outside of your apartment to work, socialize, and have a coffee. My experience has been really good and positive in large part because of the people I’ve met and the kindness they’ve shown me. I’ve gotten tips on things to do, places to visit, and recommendations when I’ve needed something. When I travel I’m fully engaged and interested in meeting local people, learning about the culture and history, trying all of the food, and having unique experiences. These are the basics for truly experiencing a place. Here in Split, making new connections and friends, and being able to speak English with people, has made a huge difference in feeling like I’m part of a community. All of this is shaping my impressions and my journey.
To learn more about Croatia for the digital nomad, check out the Total Croatia Digital Nomad guide.
Are you a digital nomad in Croatia who would like to be featured in this series? Please contact us on [email protected] Subject Nomad