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How I moved to Seoul and work 15 hours a week to support my lifestyle

What you’ll learn from Bjørn’s story

Meet Bjørn

I’m Bjørn Lindholm, originally from Denmark. Since going remote, I've journeyed through Europe and South America, finally settling in South Korea where I currently call home. Throughout my career as an employee, startup founder, and freelancer, I've prioritised the freedom to explore, ensuring that my work allows me to continue my travels

What I do for work

I work as a freelancer, specialising in UI/UX design and full-stack web development. My clients are often small startups that can't afford to hire separate designers and developers, so I help them with both design work and implementation.

My workweek is quite variable, depending on my clients’ needs. I recently downsized from three clients to two, which has freed up my schedule considerably. Currently, I work about 15 to 20 hours per week on client projects, leaving ample time to pursue personal interests and projects that don't generate income yet.

The tech industry pays well, which allows me to support myself with fewer working hours. Additionally, living in a relatively affordable country like South Korea helps.

Join me on a typical work day

My typical day starts leisurely. I spend about an hour in the morning doing nothing in particular before diving into work. I prefer to tackle client tasks in the morning, working for about three hours before taking a break for lunch. Afternoons are usually reserved for relaxation, as I’m not very productive during this time. I often go for long walks, explore the city, or visit a café.

In the evenings, I either socialise with friends or work on my personal projects for another couple of hours. I find working from home most effective since I tend to get distracted in cafés. I’m considering renting a co-working space to get out of the house more often but I haven’t started doing that yet.

Finding my home away from home

I live in a co-living space called Seoul Nooks, which is a hybrid between a hostel and a long-term rental. It’s a mix of foreigners and locals, with residents staying anywhere from a month to several years. This setup allows me to meet people with similar interests while also getting to know local residents.

Seoul Nooks costs around €700-€800 per month, and I have a spacious private room in a prime location in Seoul. The local rental market is challenging for foreigners due to long lease terms and high deposits, making co-living a more accessible option for someone like me.

My life outside of work

Seoul offers an abundance of activities. The city has distinct neighbourhoods, each with its own charm, from bustling party areas to serene green spaces perfect for hiking. I enjoy exploring these neighbourhoods, dining out with roommates, and engaging in outdoor activities like hiking which is super easy here because there are mountains that are practically part of the city.

I’m also passionate about travelling. Since university, I’ve taken opportunities to explore various places, from Bali and Thailand to Spain and Mexico. Recently, I’ve been fascinated by East Asia, particularly South Korea and Japan, hence why I’m here in Seoul now.

I started travelling extensively about a year and a half ago. Initially, I took short trips while still living in Denmark, but now I’ve fully embraced the nomadic lifestyle. Spain in particular holds a special place in my heart, and I keep returning there but South Korea more recently has also become a favourite, prompting me to settle here for a while.

Living in South Korea has been an enriching experience. The unique blend of tradition and modernity, the vibrant culture, and the welcoming community have made it a fantastic place to live and work. As I continue to explore and adapt, I look forward to discovering more about this beautiful country and its people.

My struggles as a digital nomad

Living a nomadic lifestyle presents unique challenges. One of the hardest aspects for me is settling into a new place and starting to really like it, only to have to move on because of other travel plans or visa issues. Just when I feel settled, it's time to leave.

Another challenge is building relationships. I meet a lot of wonderful, interesting people, but they usually have different travel plans. This results in many remote relationships, which work fine, but it's also nice to have long-term local relationships for some more in person connection.

The constant moving can also be exhausting. Every time I arrive in a new place, like South Korea for the first time, I have to learn how everything works - from finding food to figuring out public transportation. These small, everyday tasks can become overwhelming when you're always on the move.

My journey into remote work

I discovered the idea of remote working early in my life, around the age of 13 or 14. Even as a kid, I knew I wanted to travel a lot when I grew older and that a regular 9 - 5 job wasn't for me. So, early on, I began looking for potential jobs that would offer more freedom. In high school, I tried various things like programming, marketing, and design work, but nothing really stuck.

After high school, I moved to London and decided to give programming another shot. I ended up randomly getting a freelance client, which was really encouraging because it transformed my dream of remote work into a reality.

My first attempt at freelancing

I was living in London at the time and found a local client, a massage studio, on a site like Craigslist. I sent them a message saying I could help with their needs, even though I didn't really know what I was doing at the time so I just figured it out along the way. This client wasn't ideal - they didn't pay well and weren't sure what they wanted - but it felt amazing to get paid for my work. It was a valuable learning experience in dealing with clients and being professional.

Back to school and a conventional job

Unfortunately, this freelance work wasn't sustainable due to the lack of hours and low rate, so I moved back to Denmark to go to school. The Danish government pays students to attend university, which allowed me to continue freelancing while supplementing my income with government funding. I got a student job at an agency in Copenhagen, which was exactly the kind of job I didn't want: one that required me coming to an office every day. But looking back, it was really valuable; I learned a lot and ended up working there full-time for a year. It also really confirmed my suspicion that a 9 - 5 job wasn't for me, and now I never have to wonder about it again.

The breakthrough

After a year, I quit my job and randomly met a guy on Twitter who had a podcast I was listening to at the time. One day, he posted on Twitter that he was looking for someone to join his startup, and even though I didn't think I was qualified, I sent him a message - just like with my first freelance client, I put myself out there to see what would happen. We had a few chats, and he ended up hiring me. This was my first remote job. It was my dream job because it was remote and involved both design and programming - two elements that aren’t normally in one job but both things I really enjoy. I got to be responsible for designing and building the entire product, while he handled all the admin, marketing, and sales tasks.

When I landed this remote job, I was still in Denmark. The guy who hired me introduced me to co-livings and invited me to one in Spain. I was ready to start travelling, but Covid hit a few weeks later. Also, I still had a girlfriend at the time in Copenhagen, so I had responsibilities and other things that kept me mostly in Denmark, but I started taking these one-month trips to places to get a taste for what remote work could really offer.

We worked on the startup for a year before realising it was a bad idea and pulling the plug. Not long after though, the same guy reached out to me; this time, he had a new idea and asked if I wanted to be a co-founder. We ran this new startup for two years before running out of money, which led me to start freelancing again.

Making freelancing work

Around the same time as the startup failed, I got out of a pretty long term relationship and had to move out of our shared apartment. I really wanted to travel full-time after the business of running a startup and the restrictions from Covid. I got back into freelancing, this time using the network I had built when I was building the startup. I believe a personal network and word of mouth is a much more effective way to get clients because the websites out there to hire freelancers end up forcing you to race to the bottom with your prices. For me specifically, my clients today were previous clients and also small companies that our previous investors also funded. 

Income transparency 

Unlike when I first gave freelancing a try in London, I’m now able to charge between $100-$125 USD per hour and support myself off just 15 - 20 hours per week which gives me a really great lifestyle. I’m in my mid/late twenties right now and not prioritising money over experiences.

Overcoming Barriers

One barrier was figuring out what I was truly interested in. I tried many different things, like setting up an Amazon affiliate site, but would lose motivation and switch to something else. At some point, programming stuck because I started feeling good at it. I read a book called "So Good They Can't Ignore You," which emphasised getting really good at one specific skill. This helped me realise that if I became invaluable to a company, I could negotiate better work conditions, like remote work.

The big break for me was getting my first remote job in the startup. It was luck that I found this guy on Twitter, but I had spent years getting good at what I found interesting, so I was ready when the right opportunity came. This seems to be a common theme: putting yourself out there and getting into positions where you can get lucky.

My message to the world

As I reflect on my journey into remote working and freelancing, I realise that one of the most important things I can share with others aspiring to do the same is to find your own path. It's easy to read stories online about how others have achieved success, but those stories might not be the right blueprint for you. Instead, focus on what interests you, get good at it, and see if it can lead to the life you want to live. It’s helpful to read what others have done but don’t mistake that for being the only path is what I’m trying to say.

For me, a significant aspect of this journey was not chasing money. I don't care much about making a lot of money. My goal has always been to earn enough to survive and have plenty of free time to spend on things I truly enjoy. This mindset has allowed me to live a fulfilling life without being trapped by financial pressures.

I also didn't dive headfirst into this lifestyle. I took a break from school and went to Asia for three months, came back, and did short trips before committing fully. This gradual approach helped me confirm that this was indeed the life I wanted. I recommend trying it out in small steps - maybe spend a month or a few months in a new place and sublet your apartment instead of making a drastic change all at once.

For anyone looking to embark on a similar journey, my advice is simple: find your own path, focus on what you love, and take it one step at a time.

What’s next for me

Looking ahead, my plans are evolving. Location-wise, I'm done with fast travel, which for me means spending two weeks to a month in one place.  When I started travelling full-time a year and a half ago, a month felt like a long time. Soon, I realised it wasn't enough, and I wanted to stay at least three months in a place. Now, even three months feels too short. I find myself wanting to stay longer and longer each time so three months is my minimum stay now unless it’s for a vacation. Right now though, I love South Korea and plan to spend more time here, but ultimately, I hope to settle down in New York.

Career-wise, I'm looking to move away from freelancing. While freelancing is flexible and pays well, it's not my ultimate goal. I want to create something of my own - another startup or a digital product that I can pour my energy and passion into. I love working, but I want to invest that effort into something that's entirely mine and something I deeply care about.


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