Updated: Jul 25, 2022
Every month on WOMENCANFLY.CO’s blog series, The Way, we introduce inspirational women who live abroad.
This time we meet Nozomi Nishimura, a freelance writer and translator. As a nomad worker, she works while travelling around the world. She has been living in Ireland since September and it’s been two weeks since then. Up until now, Nozomi has visited 27 countries!
We talk about life as a freelancer including the ups and downs of freelancing and concerns over taxes and health insurance which is a must-read for anyone interested in international nomad work.
Nozomi’s choice to be a freelancer and global nomad
Nozomi has lived in various places including Cambodia, South America, Australia, Thailand, France, Serbia and Ireland. During her stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand, she started working as a freelance writer and translator and continues to work as a nomad wherever she is.
Since her school days, Nozomi has felt suffocated by the pressure that has forced her to act and talk like everyone around her. She felt conflicted about living and working in Japan without being able to express herself for who she was so she moved to Cambodia when she was a fresh graduate.
“When I was a student, I was involved in NPO support activities for Cambodia and told myself I’d go there someday. I’m the type of person who has my eyes set on a goal once I decide on something so even though I applied for jobs in Japan, I think my heart was already set on going to Cambodia.”
In Cambodia, Nozomi gained experience through an internship at a travel agency and a job at a media company that published free papers. After spending three and a half years there she packed her bags and took a solo trip to South America for six months. Nozomi likes living like a local so she rented an apartment.
Following this, she started working at a media company in Sydney, Australia on a working holiday visa.
“In Sydney, my job was to write. It was interesting for me to showcase products and services in an attractive way while also understanding the needs of the clients. After that, when I left Australia to go to Thailand, I decided I definitely wanted to continue my writing work.”
This was how Nozomi started her career as a freelance writer in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Nozomi wanted to work with clients overseas so she signed up for Upwork, a crowdsourcing site and is still working with a client company who she connected with there.
“I’ve always liked travelling and working as a writer was attractive as it can be done regardless of my location. Since my client tells me I can work from anywhere, when there’s a country I want to visit, I can travel to different places.”
The difference between Japanese nomads and foreign nomads
Nozomi started her nomad lifestyle in the ancient city of Chiang Mai, Thailand. There are many nomad workers there and it is filled with co-working spaces and cafes that they can work in.
“In Chiang Mai, there are free yoga and SEO classes which I often participate in. As a freelancer, I have no work colleagues but thanks to these classes, I’ve been able to make friends.”
While there are areas designated for nomads to work comfortably, there are hardships just by being a nomad.
After leaving Chiang Mai, Nozomi travelled to France where she has friends. She was planning to stay for two to three weeks but due to COVID-19, she wasn’t able to move there like she had expected to. She extended my visa once but it expired and moved to Serbia where the border was open.
Unlike Japan, some countries require you to have a visa for entry and long-term stays. In an unexpected situation like COVID-19, you may not be able to move around as you like or you may be forced to move unintentionally.
“Particularly after COVID-19 in Europe, security is getting worse so I always remember that I’m a foreigner and try to be careful about pickpockets.”
During her trip to South America, Nozomi was almost attacked by a homeless man with a knife. Of course, you can encounter danger in Japan as well but it’s important to keep in mind that you are the one who protects yourself especially when you are abroad.
“I’ve tried to live in various places while moving around every few months but now I want to be based in one place. It’s sad to say goodbye to the friends I’ve made. Europe is good so the Netherlands, which is said to be easy for freelancers to get visas, is my first choice."
A different country means a different system. Concerns over taxes and health insurance for nomads
There are many who want to be a global nomad and work as they please in different places while enjoying the experience of being overseas. However, there are many realistic concerns like taxes and health insurance when you get sick.
“I get lots of information from blogs and articles on the internet. These days, there are many who are working as global nomads and various information is abundant.”
Nozomi pays her taxes to countries where she has lived for a longer period of time but if she only stays in a country for a few months like she is doing now, she pays a lump sum in Japan. That’s when she leaves it to a Japanese tax accountant.
As for health insurance, Nozomi is with a Norwegian insurance company called ‘Safety Wing’ which issues insurance packages for nomads. She hasn’t been sick or injured yet so far but she’ll still be temporarily covered after she returns to Japan. What is covered varies depending on the plan so if you’re interested check out their website to find a plan that suits you.
What Nozomi wants to write and how she wants to express herself
Anyone can have social media and write blogs so it’s become common to upload and publish content. We live in a gig economy where the increase in web content means anyone can call themselves a writer. When Nozomi writes, she not only tries to write in a way that is easy to read but also writes with intention.
“I aim to showcase the products and services I write about in a way that catches people’s attention so it’s essential to research the approaches competitors are taking. I focus on drafting work and get suggestions from there.”
Nozomi currently undertakes work from foreign clients where she writes articles that promote products and services. Now that she’s built trust with her clients and has settled into her job, Nozomi wants to expand to topics that stimulate deeper thought and are usually taboo like death, sex, politics and mental health.
“I’ve had depression in the past and at that time a friend introduced me to a counselor. By talking to them, I noticed small pains that I had overlooked so it was a pleasant experience to understand what I was going through.”
At the same time, it was an experience to feel the hardships of living in a society where many don’t recognise problems as problems and don’t talk about them. That’s why I want to spread the message of thinking about these issues together to make society an easier place to live in. Nozomi’s current goal is to go to school and study psychology.
“If I hadn’t experienced these adversities then I’m sure I wouldn’t have thought of doing something like this. That’s why I think those difficult times were major turning points in my life.”
Nozomi was always careful about what those around her thought of her during her school days but after meeting various people abroad and being exposed to different values, there are many experiences that can only be written by Nozomi herself because of all the hardships she’s experienced.
From now on, Nozomi hopes to write in a way that impacts others like the words that her counsellor consoled her with and one day will be someone’s open arms to their pain.
Thank you for reading this, and We are always here for you!
Women can fly.
Much love, xxx
※Sign up to our email newsletter below to be the first to receive news and information from WCF