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Working Remotely on a Remote Farm

The Internet allows you to be connected to anyone, anywhere. This is what makes working remotely in a distributed company fun because you’ll have colleagues all over the world. You’ll also spend less money on fancy office clothes, commuting with public transportation, and you can even stay in your pajamas until 3 pm. All great advantages.

When I first started working, remotely I felt less chained to the place I lived. I suddenly had the freedom to work and live anywhere I wanted to. I thought about moving to either San Francisco or elsewhere in the US, Canada, Australia, UK, or Sweden. Eventually, my wife and I settled in Sweden because it was not far from our home country (thus friends and family), it has a high quality of life (especially for those raising kids), and it’s not too crowded. That said, we had already been in Sweden a couple of times, and we totally loved the beautiful nature there.

Our first step was to try and find a house or apartment in the city. It was hard to find something affordable, and after a long search, we eventually stumbled upon a cute farm in the southern part of Sweden. The farm originated from the late 1800s and most other people considered this place as extremely remote, which was probably true.

Remote Farm

Our house in the middle of the forest yet close to a lake. The place was surrounded by forest, lakes, and a few small villages. Going to the nearest city took about 35 minutes by car and most people owned at least two cars because public transportation was non-existing. They also calculated population density in hectares which probably said enough about the amount of people living there. Anyhow, “let’s just give it a try” is what we thought and we decided to pack our bags and move to Sweden.

During that time I already worked remotely so for me it didn’t matter where I lived as long as I had a computer and access to the Internet. Even if our adventure wouldn’t work out we’d have the experience of life on a farm; not many people could say that. We’d also be flexible in moving elsewhere again if needed although we didn’t plan to give up so easily.

Remote Internet

The first thing I was concerned about was the Internet connection, a critical aspect of the life of a remote worker. I knew that Sweden had pretty good 3G/4G coverage even in the countryside, so I explored the options. The first year we lived there I tried several different providers and located the router in various places in our house in search of the best connection. The nicest thing with these USB 3G dongles is that they allow you to connect an external antenna to improve signal strength. However, in the end, the fastest speed I got was about 10-12Mbit which for me was just enough to get the job done. A year later our area got 4G coverage that tripled the connection speed, a real gift. On sunny days, the connection was a lot faster than on rainy days. That’s why I had a backup dongle from another provider in case things go awry. Luckily our connection worked fine most of the time. Being connected allowed me to live in the middle of nowhere and still visit websites, check e-mails, and do my weekly video calls.

Extremely Remote

The farm was located about 3 kilometers into the forest which meant that the only car that drove by on an average day was either the landlord, mailman, or snowplow in the winter. As you can imagine, we saw more deer, wild boars, foxes, and other animals instead of humans. Our landlord owned a dozen cows that walked around the field next to our house; this gave us the feeling that there was always something going on. Seeing animals from behind my desk was an excellent view, and I’d have to say that without them around it would have been an entirely different experience. The area was very remote but a great place if you wanted less distraction and focused on work for a while. We ended up commuting a lot because stores and facilities were not nearby. This also allowed us to get out of our isolated zone and mingle with other humans beings. Sometimes that was a good thing because it helped to break your schedule and change environments. Changing your surrounding is an important part of working remotely, it gives you new perspectives and makes you work differently. It doesn’t have to be this extreme of course but being close to nature had something special.

Seasons compared

When you live in the forest, you see the seasons change in front of your eyes. When you are not distracted by cars, people, and whatnot you’d focus more on the nature around you. You’d notice birds fly south which indicated colder weather was around the corner, leaves change color, or plants and flowers popping out of the ground. Your working schedule adapts around the season and its weather. When the weather is nice, you will spend more time outside than inside the house. For example, working on the patio with stretched legs and a laptop on your lap or just doing something else other than work. When the weather is bad, you’d stay inside, wrap yourself in a blanket, and type a lot on your keyboard to keep your hands warm. However, when you’re inside the house a lot, it’s important that you do something on the side, like a sport, a hobby, or just a daily walk outside. For us, that meant having chickens, growing vegetables, and making long walks in the forest. It’s a great way to activate your body that sits in the chair the whole day. It allows your body and mind to refuel.

If you think you are ready to move elsewhere and live there for a while or just hop cities while working remotely, then I can only praise you because I know it’ll be an amazing experience. Make sure you take a look at NomadList that helps you compare living costs, Internet speed, weather, and more, from places all over the world.

We ended up living almost three years on this farm, and it has been a life-changing experience. We’re currently back in the city, but if I would ever find a charming farmhouse again, I would move there in a heartbeat.

I'm a Business Operations Lead at Mapillary. I've been working remotely since 2010 with great companies like Buffer, Automattic, and Lookback.

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