The digital nomad experience is not just about making money online and travelling while closed in your own thoughts but telling others about your personal experience through social channels and making those stories lively as if you were present in the first person.
Abdul Mannan has been sharing his personal experiences being a digital nomad for more than 10 years and living between England, Croatia, and many other countries.
His computer never leaves him, nor does his smile when meeting other people, and his dedication to living life with joy and presence. Some points of his life as a digital nomad are shared in this article.
Author: Luana Matosevic
Abdul, can you introduce yourself?
I am Abdul Mannan, and on the island Ugljan I am known as Abbi. I was born and raised in Leicester – England. However, my parents originate from Bangladesh. I am a graduate of Product Design & Architecture hence I work as a freelance Designer & Architectural Consultant. I mainly split my time and work between England and Croatia, but I travel a lot (10 countries in 2022), so my laptop gets to see the world. The sun and the sea make me smile. Seeing a smile on other faces wherever I go also makes me smile!
I am not a young person. I’m 52 years old and have been a digital nomad for over 10 years now.
Why did you move to the countryside?
Leicester is in the middle of England. It’s far from the sea and as you know when the sun shines in the UK, it is a blessing. Leicester is a busy city, a nice city and a great multicultural place to live, but it has a fast pace of life, is always congested with traffic and seems to be getting more populated. It would be pointless for me to relocate to somewhere the same, so I went for the opposite of what I’m used to and I arrived on the island of Ugljan, in the archipelago of Zadar.
How did you decide to go to a specific country? What were the key criteria?
I went on holiday to Croatia in 2011. Fell in love with the coastal towns, the sea, the mountains and the weather. I felt there were many possibilities in Croatia as it was still finding its feet where tourism was concerned. After a few visits to the country, I decided to devise a plan to create a yoga retreat business on an island in Croatia because of the nature, weather, clean sea and healthier lifestyle. And it was only a two-hour flight away from London.
How is social life? Do you find people in the countryside open-minded and welcoming? Share with us valuable experiences you had with locals while working in the countryside.
My social life with the locals is pretty limited – language differences and personal interests differ a lot. Also, because I am of different ethnicity, this can create division due to their views and lack of intelligence. I have two local friends on Ugljan with whom I socialise and work in the garden, house or boat. Most of my other friends are therefore Expats.
How and where do you find accommodation and working spaces?
Whilst in England and Croatia I have my own accommodation. I actually designed and built my own place on Ugljan. When I’m travelling, I stay in hostels, hotels or with friends around the world.
Did you receive any support from the local organizations when settling in the area (municipality, development agencies, youth centre …)
No, I didn’t.
Would you like to live permanently in the countryside?
Yes. But time will tell. It all depends on my health and the state of both Croatia and the UK in the future. In the long future, I probably will go back to England to be closer to my sisters when we are old.
Do you use any specific digital tools that you might recommend to other digital nomads?
Only the internet. Otherwise, no.