Carly Koemptgen can work from anywhere around Australia.
The 26-year-old American has been working from a campervan for the past six months – after she decided to take the leap to ditch the 9-5 office job for a life on the road.
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No two days are ever the same while she travels and works.
She has logged on from some of Queensland’s top holiday hotspots – including Airlie Beach and Port Douglas – as well as from Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Canberra.
And she’s even done so while making a loop around New Zealand.
“I am doing what I love and have a stable income, which provides security and confidence when travelling and working remotely,” Carly tells 7Life.
Her role as a “digital nomad” is to make social media content on the road to showcase how easy it is for businesses to hire and manage a global workforce for employees, like herself, to “land their dream job no matter where they are”.
“I can plan my work hours around the other things I want to do,” she says.
“I don’t have to work between 9 and 5 – I can do it whenever, as long as it gets done on time and according to expectations.
“My hours vary daily, based on where I am, who I am meeting and what content I have planned.
“Some days I am up early and on the road to get to the next location, versus others when I spend eight hours in a library editing content.”
Before pursuing a life on the road, Carly was living in her own apartment in Seattle – while working an office job for a marketing agency specialising in social media.
“I got burnt out and realised there was more out there for me to see and do,” she says.
“I quit with no other plan.”
She started juggling two jobs just to pay the bills.
“I did freelance work in the mornings at home and worked as a nanny part-time,” she explains.
“Seattle is expensive and freelancing can be inconsistent, so taking on nannying helped me pay rent.
“It also allowed me to step away from the computer screen for a few hours each day and learn to appreciate the small things.”
Stuck in a rut
However, she began feeling stuck in a rut.
“I was just really unhappy,” she recalls.
“My mental health took a massive downturn.
“I didn’t feel like I had any purpose behind my work and that I was just sitting in front of a computer screen every day to perpetuate someone else’s goals.”
As she was looking for work, Carly saw a job ad for a “social media nomad” role with Deel, a global HR platform offering remote jobs all over the world.
“I knew it would be a dream role so I figured it was worth a shot,” she says.
“(My) lucky stars aligned, and I’m here.”
She travelled to Australia in January on a working holiday visa.
Carly is earning $3,400 per month working as a social media nomad.
“I’m earning about as much as I was making freelancing,” she says.
“I am living comfortably and making a point to save and invest when I can.”
Carly has been living out of a Mercedes Sprinter campervan, which costs $100 per day to rent.
However, the homes on wheels is subsidised by her employer so she doesn’t have to pay a cent.
“It’s fully furnished. The table and benches are amazing as a workspace for one,” she says.
“My remote work setup is pretty simple; I only need a laptop, mouse and headphones.
“I use my iPad as a second monitor sometimes if I need it.”
She’s spending about $550 per week on living expenses.
“I keep my expenses pretty basic – food, petrol, mobile, activities and campsites – I also love free campsites and am not opposed to a rest stop if need be,” Carly says.
“I spend about the same or less than I did living alone in Seattle. I was spending around $2500 to $3000 per month on living expenses (there).
“Now I experience something new and exciting every day.”
So far, in six months, she has driven about 5,200km around Australia.
“I started in Brisbane and went all the way up to Cape Tribulation,” she says.
“Some of my favourite stops along the way were Agnes Water, Eungella National Park, Airlie Beach and Port Douglas.
“Then I came back down the east coast to Sydney, taking a detour through the Blue Mountains and down to Canberra.
“It was kind of a weird route, but I wanted to go north for the winter and am very glad I did.”
During her trip in New Zealand, she clocked 5,500km.
“I went from Auckland and Rotorua to Tongariro, then took the ferry from Wellington to Picton and made a loop down the west and up the east coasts of the South Island,” she says.
However, Carly has spent most of her time working in and exploring Australia.
“It feels like such a privilege, honestly. I am very grateful to have this opportunity,” she says.
“I’m excited to see what adventures the day will bring. Of course, the views are pretty cool as well.
“This has been the job of a lifetime, and it’s made me see how possible it is to work and still get the most out of life.”
A typical day usually consists of her usual morning routine before she drives to a library or cafe to work for a few hours.
“It’s usually wake up, drink coffee, eat breakfast, clean up, stop at the library or a coffee shop, drive to camp or the next stop, dinner, sleep and repeat,” she says.
“But, of course, random adventures come up some days.”
And her “van life” isn’t always smooth sailing.
“The van broke down once; that was not fun. I spent two nights in the repair shop while it was being fixed,” she recalls.
“Navigating narrow, unpaved roads with a big vehicle can be challenging.
“Sometimes camp spots are not as advertised.
“Mobile services dropouts can also throw a spanner in the works.
“However, the cool part about this journey is that I’ve learned to adapt quickly to unexpected situations.”
Her six-month contract ends soon but she’s planning to continue working remotely around Australia.
“I eventually want to purchase my own van and see more of Australia, but I’m still figuring that out,” she says.
For those looking to work remotely but who don’t know where to start, Carly suggests: “Develop a skill that you can do remotely.
“For me, that was social media marketing.
“For others, it could be translating, teaching, graphic design, video/photo editing, copywriting, coding and more.
“Then, find an employer with a fully-remote or hybrid team.
“I also find that utilising my network and putting myself out there to ask if anyone knows someone who is looking for my skill set is always helpful.”
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