A Taste of Digital Nomad Culture at Roam in Bali

I'm writing this from an Eames office chair at a shaded outdoor work station on a rooftop in Bali. I'm in a town called Ubud at the original location of Roam, a global co-living startup geared at location-independent workers that's been drumming up press in publications ranging from Fast Company, to TechCrunch, to Vogue

As the company described itself on Medium, "Roam is an experimental community about the future of work, travel and life adventure." 

As someone not just interested in writing about the future of work, but actually living it, being at Roam for a week has been fascinating. I expected it to be dominated by tech founders, but that hasn't been the case. Yes, I'm working alongside a Google employee, but there's also an independent graphic designer, a yoga teacher, an executive coach, and the founder of a jewelry company.

Past "Roamies" here have included an ecological researcher, a children's book illustrator, a founder of a co-working space, and several developers and marketers. As Roam's founder, Bruno Haid, told Fast Company, "It's not just for the young single freelancer. It's for the couple in their late 30s who are going to have kids and want to downsize for a year or two. Or the empty-nesters who say the kids are in college, let's travel the world for two or three years."

Essentially it's a glimpse into a new era of work in which early adopters are designing their careers to align with their larger values and life priorities. 

"With Internet access from anywhere, where we live and where we work are colliding in unpredictable and intriguing ways. Adventure doesn't have to wait until you quit your job or you retire." (Roam)

A lease that lets you live around the world

Roam offers flexible access to international co-living spaces priced at USD $500 weekly, or USD $1,800 monthly, which includes all utility costs, including their "battle-tested wifi." That price includes a fully furnished room with a private bathroom, and access to communal spaces that include a co-working area with plenty of outlets, a kitchen, and laundry room. 

An event at Roam's Bali location featuring up-and-coming Indonesian chef, Harry Budihardjo.

An event at Roam's Bali location featuring up-and-coming Indonesian chef, Harry Budihardjo.

Roam's locations offer a unique combination of privacy, comfort, and instant community, which can be hard to create when you're new to a place, especially if you're working full-time.

To help facilitate a sense of belonging and connectivity, Roam offers classes that range from yoga to cooking, and hosts events to draw in the surrounding community as well. Each location has plenty of social areas, whether that's a long table to plug in alongside other roaming professionals, a kitchen to cook meals, or a patio cafe.

The yoga deck at Roam in Bali

The yoga deck at Roam in Bali

The location in Ubud, Bali was Roam's original site. Reliable wifi can be tough to find in this part of the world, so it's an ideal solution for digital nomads who need to maintain productivity. 

Roam's second location was in Miami, and they're opening a third in Madrid in June. They recently raised a significant funding round, which they're using to expand to another 8-10 locations in 2017, starting with London and Buenos Aires. 

Each location will have its own unique features. As an example, Roam Ubud has a pool, expansive yoga deck, restaurant and bar, and outdoor projector for movie nights in the jungle. 

Roam sweet home

Co-living spaces like Roam are sure to keep popping up in various forms as more professionals of all ages seize the flexible opportunities the digital world provides. They're an antidote for working remotely but retaining a sense of community. They're also rich in resources, and offer the opportunity to learn from other individuals and teams from around the world. Imagine struggling with a creative problem and being to turn to a designer from Apple on your left, then work through a leadership challenge with a seasoned CEO on your right, from a patio in paradise.

The future of work will have many faces and introduce countless new ways of getting things done. Global co-living is just one of them, and while it still has the quirks and challenges of anything new, we're using our diverse backgrounds, skills, and perspectives to figure them out together.

We're crowdsourcing solutions to getting work done better and faster, while also enhancing our happiness, wellbeing, and sense of belonging. Now that's a future I'm into.