Digital Nomad: Nathan Sawatzky of Nathan Sawatzky Consulting

February 9, 2017
Nathan Sawatzky

What do you do professionally?

I work with companies to build and implement their customer support teams and strategy. As part of this, I spend quite a bit of time looking at Trust and Safety for children’s online products also.

I’m also currently working on building out a company that will provide high-touch support for businesses who want to focus more on the product; allowing my team to become their customer care team.

How did you come to be living the life of a digital nomad?

We moved to Ireland a couple of years ago, where I took a job at a large tech company. A year later, I left that company and my wife and I decided that we wanted to give our children an opportunity to learn about different parts of the world first hand. With consulting, I didn’t need to be anywhere specific so, we put all our stuff in storage and set out to see some different parts of Europe.

What do you love most about your lifestyle?

We’re currently in Portugal, not far from the ocean. I’ve found a couple of wonderful beach huts where I can sit and work; looking out at the majestic Atlantic. I also really love watching my kids grow in their empathy towards people who are different from them. They’ve gotten particularly good at conversing through body language, as our Portuguese hasn’t progressed as well as we’d hoped it would.

Is there anything you don’t like about your lifestyle?

I don’t think there’s anything I flat out don’t like, but there are certainly challenges. We miss community and continuity; especially for our children. They are becoming incredibly adaptable – and I think that will do them well – but it comes at the cost of being able to get involved in certain things like sports or dance. That said, they end up playing football (soccer) on the beach with kids from around the world so… there are trade-offs.

A photo posted by Nate Sawatzky (@natesawatzky) on

What tools, equipment, and platforms do you use and are you happy with them?

I’ve learned a couple of things the hard way. Nothing frustrates a team you’re working with more than you sitting on a beach somewhere with bad internet. Having a phone you can tether too with a really good data plan is maybe the most important thing you can have as a digital nomad. Additionally, you need to have a strong, light-weight computer. I use the new 13″ MacBook Pro (no touch bar). It’s light and powerful enough for pretty much everything I need. I also keep a notebook and pen with me at all times. Being a digital nomad sometimes means you need to put away all tech and simply take in where you are. Most places in the world aren’t nearly so tech-reliant as we are in N. America. You stand out when you’re always on your computer or looking at your phone. I find I do a lot of my best work with simply a pen and paper, later transposed to digital.

What would you like to have that you don’t currently have?

There are all sorts of geeky things I’d love to get but, we did pretty well at getting set up with what we need. The more we have, the less flexible we are. There’s this one piece of tech though that I’m pretty excited to try though, the Remarkable digital paper ( I know, it totally contradicts what I said about needing to unplug…

Of all the places you’ve worked, which were your favourite and why?

The beach huts in Portugal have truly been magical. I think it’s what most people imagine when they think about becoming a digital nomad. Irish pubs are also pretty rad places to work. I also have this really funny memory of being is Old Talin, Latvia. Me and a friend were exploring this crazy old city, built very much in the moat and castle days. We found an old part of the castle wall and this crazy narrow staircase. In N. America, this surely would have been tied off so no one would hurt themselves but, as it wasn’t, we decided to climb up, thinking ourselves even a little rebellious for going up this path. Funny enough though, when we got to the top and followed the ridge a little way, we found a coffee/wine shop overhanging the wall. It was great!.

Where have you travelled and worked? Where do you plan to travel?

I’ve been fortunate enough to work in quite a few places over the years; Egland, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Ireland, and Portugal (to name a few). I would like to explore more of Eastern Europe though as I find the history there simply fascinating. I think we’ll likely go to France next though.


What are your plans for the future?

Eventually, we’ll settle. There’s something incredible about travel-living but, it’s not a forever thing. I hope we’ll always travel but, having a home base shouldn’t be overrated. In an ideal world, we’ll buy a house somewhere in the next couple years and go out for a few weeks at a time.

As for me, I’ll continue to build out my business and see where that leads.

Where can people learn more about what you do?