Remote Interviews with Peter Rejcek

The following is paraphrased and edited from my phone interview with Peter.

First and foremost, please tell me a brief background about yourself and one interesting fact.

My home is in Denver, Colorado but I’ve been abroad for more than two years, most recently in Chengdu, China. The past 20 years of my life I have been a journalist, starting off writing articles for newspapers in Texas in the late 90s. After that, I wrote for a military-based newspaper in the Marshall Islands, left that and worked for the United States Antarctic Program for the next 10 years, as a science writer. It was a great job but it was time for something new (and I was tired of the cold). Since then, I’ve been a freelance writer and digital nomad, traveling around the world for the last two years or so. I believe my most interesting fact is that I spent about a year at the South Pole where the coldest temperature ever recorded when I was there was -107.5 ºF.

So I read on your blog that you’ve spent a good portion of your remote working experience in Antarctica. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

Yeah I did. During most of the year I was actually in Denver, but I would spend 2-4 months at a time on the “Ice.” The first time I was there, during 2003-04, I was actually there for a whole year. I started off by doing general labor, helping build a new research center. The program would fly a bunch of materials to the South Pole and then people like me would help build it. The following year, I got involved in the media program with the US research program. It was all science based and funded by the National Science Foundation. They would fund researchers from the United States doing research on topics ranging from biology (yes, penguins) to climate change. And actually a lot of astronomy. The South Pole is a great place to observe and research the night sky.

Why the move to remote working? How did you hear about it and ultimately decide that this is what you wanted pursue full time?

I would always work a job for a while, quit, travel until the money ran out, and then start a new job. The last long-term job was my media job in Antarctica, and it was the same thing. The original plan was to travel with my girlfriend for a year and then find a new project. Then I decided to pursue a freelance career and continue traveling as a digital nomad, especially after find out out about Trusted Housitters, a site where they connect home and pet owners who need a sitter with people who are willing to sit the house for free. Housing/rent is one of the largest expenses and being able to live somewhere fora duration of time for free (in exchange for some house sitting work) helps a lot. It is also a neat way to travel and get involved with the community you stay in. So far I’ve house-sat in England, Scotland, France, Turkey, Laos, and China. Japan is next.

Bodrum Harbor Mosque - Turkey
Bodrum Harbor Mosque – Turkey

 

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced starting off and how have you managed to overcome them? What are the challenges you are facing now?

Probably not something you expected, but in a way, it was relatively easy for me because it didn’t start off too heavy. When I decided to pursue becoming a digital nomad and working remotely full time, I didn’t focus on it too much because I had some money in the bank. After I hit up a few of my old connections from my journalist career, I became more serious. I applied for a few freelance jobs at a couple of freelance websites. The one I used the most is called Upwork. You have to be careful though, some of the jobs are crap, like expecting you to write articles for $3/hour but some are pretty good. It really didn’t take long to land some clients. The biggest challenge I would say though is finding somewhere to stay with decent Wi-Fi (Peter actually dropped the call here because of a Wi-Fi issue, luckily we picked up where we started). But really do your research before you travel to a location. I have to say, being a professional writer really helped making the transition to remote work. It’s also a lot easier when you are at a place for let’s say 6 weeks and not just being a tourist, but actually living there. Another big challenge is carving out time for working and finding time to take advantage of this lifestyle of being location independent like exploring the community and site seeing.

What are some of the best things you enjoy about becoming a digital nomad? If you had to do it all over again knowing everything, would you do it?

I would definitely say the freedom and independence it offers. If I had to do it all over again, I think I would work a little bit harder in the beginning, especially during the first year looking for jobs/projects. I would do it again. I mean I have mostly worked remotely, but just lived in the same city. I guess it was more telecommuting then. Most of the people I know love it. It’s a lot of discipline to balance the freedom and independence you obtain with the responsibilities you must fulfill, I’m lucky my career has helped prepare me for that.

Name your favorite experience/place you’ve encountered being a digital nomad.

Wow, that’s pretty hard to answer. I been to a lot of great places and met a lot of great people. I would probably have to say my best time spent was my 3 months in southern France. I wasn’t really house sitting, I was helping some people out with their rental property. On top of that, I got my own apartment to stay in and a car to use while I was there. The food was great and so was the wine. Even though it was work, it was a lot more lax and more playing. Now, it’s more 50/50 between work and play.

Perigueux Cathedral - France
Perigueux Cathedral – France

 

Any final advice for our audience wanting to start working remotely or the digital nomad lifestyle?

It’s funny you ask, I’ve actually received a few emails over the years from people asking me similar things. I have a few bits of advice so I’ll start rambling… First, do your research or due diligence if you will. Research to see if it is viable. Do the numbers, see how much money you’ll make, lay out your expected expenses, how are you going to travel, how are you going to live this new lifestyle etc. Make sure to read a lot of blogs or similar articles. Learn to track your money and there are plenty of online apps to help you keep budget. But honestly, if you just want to do it, just go for it. Save some money for a cushion, do it for a few months to try it out and then pursue it full time. Basically if you don’t want to end up living with your parents, do your research first, and if it is economically viable, go all in.

Luang Prabang - Laos
Luang Prabang – Laos

 

Follow Peter

Website: www.peterrejcek.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/peter-rejcek-9450275/

Twitter: @poliepete

Instagram: @poliepete

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