Around the world in Christmas baubles

Today’s post is the perfect combination of travel and Christmas. We have a little tradition that whenever we travel somewhere and we manage to find a Christmas bauble we get…

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3 days in Lisbon, Portugal

One city that I wanted to visit for a long time was Lisbon. Having been there, I can say that I definitely want to go again! In all, we went…

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Weekend trip to Aberdeen from Edinburgh

When: 2 days in June  Stayed: At 2 different Airbnbs. Our initial plan was to stay for one night but then decided to stay for 2 nights so due to…

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5 breakfast places in Malta

1. Giorgio’s Cafeteria, Sliema Enjoying a prime location at Tigne Seafront, Giorgio’s Cafeteria is one of my favourites before spending the day shopping. Depending on the weather and your preferences…

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Biking around Berlin

On our recent trip to Berlin we decided to embrace the nice weather and explore the city by bike. It was easier than we thought and it was quite convenient,…

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24 hour in Blackpool

I had the opportunity to spent my 26th birthday in Blackpool and I must say it was one of the most nicest birthdays I had. First of all, I spent…

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5 brunch places in Edinburgh

Loudons Cafe  Situated in the Fountainbridge area, a short walk away from the city centre. Usually very busy, especially if you go on the weekend (we had to wait around 20…

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Gift guide: traveller in your life

Christmas is round the corner and buying presents can be such a headache. Here’s a gift guide for that person in your life who loves nothing other than travel! Neck…

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Cheese fest Edinburgh ?

When I found out that a touring cheese fest exists in the UK I was delighted. When I found out that Cheese fest UK was coming to Edinburgh in November it was a…

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Baking traditional Maltese puddina in 8 steps

What better way to get baking when it’s all cold and rainy outside? I wanted a piece of puddina for so long so I decided why not bake one on…

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Biking around Berlin

On our recent trip to Berlin we decided to embrace the nice weather and explore the city by bike. It was easier than we thought and it was quite convenient,…

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On our recent trip to Berlin we decided to embrace the nice weather and explore the city by bike. It was easier than we thought and it was quite convenient, too. It just all happens at your finger-tips (literally) because all you need to do is download an app on your phone, unlock the bike – and off you go. There’s a variety of apps (and pricing models) available. We decided to use ‘Donkey Republic‘ due to its conveniently located stations. With prices ranging from 1,50 € for half an hour to 12,00 € for a day, this is certainly a reasonably priced option to get around the city.

This being our second time in Berlin, we didn’t go to all the ‘main’ attractions, as we have already visited the likes of the Brandenburger Gate.

We started off our trip at the Ostbahnhof station, headed to the famous Berghain (a day and night nightclub; just to take a look) and took the main roads straight to Alexanderplatz.

Strausberger Platz

Drei Mädchen und ein Knabe

Altes Museum

We cycled down Alexanderplatz and continued to the Berlin Cathedral where there is also the statues of Drei Mädchen und ein Knabe (three girls and a boy). The area was quite busy giving it was a Sunday. It is perfect to sit down and eat or just have a drink. Next stop was Checkpoint Charlie and the Topography of Terror (both located about the same corner), which again was very busy with tourist trying to take a picture.

We finished our little bike trip having a sandwich and home-made apple strudel with vanilla sauce at Café Einstein Stammhaus.

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Remote Life: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It’s March 2016, Zurich, Switzerland. I’ve just done what seems unthinkable for a majority of employees: I went into the office of my employer and handed in my resignation letter…

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It’s March 2016, Zurich, Switzerland. I’ve just done what seems unthinkable for a majority of employees: I went into the office of my employer and handed in my resignation letter for a job, that till today, had the highest salary I’ve had, great perks and lovely colleagues. Without any follow-up job, without secured projects …

Over the past six months I’ve grown sick of my daily routine and my environment. Getting up, working on the same code, day in, day out, go home, go sleep. I had emigrated from Germany in hope of various things, certainly not limited to money. One of them was flexibility – and the possibility to take over more responsibility and work on exciting projects.

A few weeks earlier I had agreed on a contract for freelance work for one of my ex-employers. One of the main perks of that contract was the fact that I didn’t have to be on-site. I was allowed to work from home – remote – or in home-office as it’s often being called today. I quickly came to the conclusion that I should be able to find more remote work and decided to quit my job in favor of becoming a self-employed developer.

After my resignation I had two weeks of work left. So I acted quickly and decided to move somewhere with lower living cost, yet speaking a language that I understand: Malta.

The Good

Working as a remote freelancer has given me the flexibility I’ve wanted very early on: I suddenly was able to work for different companies, on a variety of projects, and most of all: I quit commuting. I can’t count the hours I’ve saved not having to drive or walk to work – especially during winter, when it rains or snows. I definitely don’t miss wasting hours of my life waiting for (yet) another overcrowded train.

The real benefit of remote (and most of all freelance) work starts to kick in when things get heated: I rarely have to deal with colleagues or clients face-to-face. When I run out of patience I close my laptop and wash some dishes. Sounds weird, but that bit of missing social interaction has completely taken away the anxiety of going to the office during crunch periods.

I’m not (technically) bound to certain locations. When my fiancée and I decided to move to Scotland, I just continued work as usual. I had to re-arrange some meetings due to the time difference, but generally speaking the move to a new country hasn’t caused any issues.

All of this has certainly made me more healthy – for one – because the lack of commute and office time have massively reduced my exposure to sick people (do your colleagues a favor and stay home when you’re sick) – and also because my remote lifestyle has given me more time to cook properly (something I rarely did during office times) and to be more relaxed psychologically about work related matters.

The Bad

However, it wasn’t always like this. I remember the first year of remote work was horrible: I ran out of savings. Something I hadn’t anticipated before – and almost brought me to a point where I had to lend money from my family. Something that I have dearly avoided throughout my work life (and in fact didn’t happen, I worked it out by myself).

It took a solid half year before I had enough work to cover taxes, social security and my own living costs – a period during which I burned money every month. 

There’s a bit of psychological issues going on in many freshly started remote workers: the feeling of not being as productive as the in-office counterparts. After soon three years I can say, with certainty, that in the majority of cases this is not true. I ran through that phase as well – and it probably took a year or longer before I became comfortable with the concept of working from home.

The lack of social interaction is not always ‘The Good’. After a year or so I started missing the social life that I had when I worked in an office and I still have episodes of missing office time when I work on-site for cool clients.

Once you work remotely you’ll find that you won’t and often can’t easily go back to being an employee or working on-site. While I’ve definitely grown more confident and struggle less to find well-paid work, every now and then there’s still a bit of anxiety when one or more major contracts are close to run out – that – and the uncertainty over the monthly income is definitely something that not everyone is able to cope with.

The occasional need to go abroad to work on-site for a client can be a strain on a relationship. Same goes for working late, long hours and weekends, something that, as a self-employed, can’t totally be avoided.

The Ugly

You’re supposed to pay taxes wherever you live for more than 183 days a year (with slight differences from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but generally this is a safe rule for EU citizens residing in the EU). At just 25 I’ve lived in four different countries. With every time I moved the situation has become more complex. Nowadays I’m a Maltese resident, a German citizen, as well as a director of a United Kingdom business. I have to consider laws of three different countries for anything I do: from dividend income, to income from self-employment – taxation is more than just a little headache nowadays.

There’s a fair bit of competition going on between remote workers. While the demand for developers grows day by day, the demand for remote developers is well saturated. Some businesses have started moving parts of their development operations to India and China, where developers can be hired for a fraction of the wages one has to pay in Europe – and thanks to remote working possibilities often this doesn’t even require setting up an office or a legal entity in aforementioned countries.

Unfortunately a lot of countries, Malta is amongst them, do not consider the expenses self-employed persons incur when working from home as business-related costs – as they’re not purely for business purposes (such as a room used as an office, internet connection, et cetera).

Conclusion

Would I recommend my younger self to become a remote developer? Probably. 

There’s some tipps I would give myself  (or you, if you’re considering going remote) nowadays though:

  • You don’t necessarily have to become a freelancer of self-employed to work remotely – there’s a growing amount of regular jobs offered ‘remote’. They might just take longer to come by.
  • Select your residency country carefully. Malta was the right choice for me, but not everyone can and wants to deal with living abroad. When there’s a chance: do it. There’s always countries with better conditions for freelancers and self-employed people.
  • Save up before you switch. I can’t stress this enough. I wouldn’t bother trying to become self-employed / freelancer working remote with anything less than half a year worth of living costs saved up.
  • Connect and network a lot. I’ve gained valuable clients through ex-colleagues and platforms like LinkedIn and XING.
  • Stop being shitty to yourself. If you think you can’t do it because of that one specific reason: stop it. All you need is a decent plan and a bit of courage.
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24 hour in Blackpool

I had the opportunity to spent my 26th birthday in Blackpool and I must say it was one of the most nicest birthdays I had. First of all, I spent…

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I had the opportunity to spent my 26th birthday in Blackpool and I must say it was one of the most nicest birthdays I had. First of all, I spent it with my lovely people (Jannik, my mum & my crazy cousin ?) so that is always a winner. Secondly, we had a fun day planned.

Our first stop was at a games room which we stumbled upon whilst walking. It brought back some lovely childhood memories (I’m looking at you Baystreet, St Julian’s games room). We spent a good hour and half in there and we also managed to get enough tokens to get a dominos and some sweets.

We then headed to the Blackpool Tower. We had purchased the tickets online beforehand so we avoided the ticketing queue. The Tower offers stunning views of the Pier. Stepping out of the lift at the top of the tower, you find yourself faced with a glass floor and the decision if you want to go for it and be brave or chicken out and stay on the ‘normal’ floor ?

There is another part of the Tower which goes further higher and which is in open air. To access this you need to take the stairs as the lift doesn’t go up to that part.

By the time we were done from the Blackpool Tower, it was past lunch time and given that it was a Friday all the restaurants were very busy and had a wait of up to 30minutes to get a table. Luckily, we had a car so we drove a little out of the centre to find food.

We then returned to the centre to go to Madame Tussauds. We have also purchased the tickets beforehand online. As for the tickets, purchasing them online saved us 30% off the price. The website offers different combinations of tickets of different places you can visit (including SeaLife, the Ballroom & the Dungeon’s). We opted for the Eye (Tower) + Madame Tussauds, as a group of 4 which was £80 in total.  Madame Tussauds offers a great opportunity for amazing photos and gives you the chance to be silly and let loose.

We ended the day with a walk by the promenade and an ice-cream (yes even though it was cold ?). Have you ever been to Blackpool? If so what was your favourite thing about it?

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5 brunch places in Edinburgh

Loudons Cafe  Situated in the Fountainbridge area, a short walk away from the city centre. Usually very busy, especially if you go on the weekend (we had to wait around 20…

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  1. Loudons Cafe 

Situated in the Fountainbridge area, a short walk away from the city centre. Usually very busy, especially if you go on the weekend (we had to wait around 20 minutes for a table) but oh it is so worth it. We tried the French toast (with bacon and maple syrup) and the American Style Pancakes – which were both delicious.

2. Mimi’s Bakehouse

This one has three cafes around Edinburgh (we’ve been twice and we have always been to the same one!). They take table bookings which I recommend (it’s super easy to book online). Both times we had their special Beforenoon Tea, which is served only on Saturday and Sunday. It includes flavoured cheese and chive scones (to die for!), a piece of waffle, a little muffin and cinnamon swirl, a yogurt and bacon butties (which they have a vegetarian option and are served with eggs instead of bacon). This is a definitely a personal favourite.

3. Grand Cafe

Certainly, a winner for its beautiful decor. It is part of the Scotman Hotel right in the heart of the city. We tried the Sourdough Toast (with mushrooms, poached eggs, and truffle oil). I had the impression that the prices would be rather expensive, however, this was not the case. We went during the week and it was not busy. Given its posh-y feel (and the fact that it is part of a four-star hotel) the service can definitely be improved, other than that definitely worth a visit.

4. Di Giorgio

We came across this one by chance and we were not disappointed to have given it a try. It is in a really good position to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens after a scrumptious breakfast. Service was very good and the staff was friendly. We tried the potato scone (toast with potatoes, eggs and mushrooms) and the asparagus (bacon with poached eggs on bread topped with hollandaise sauce).

5. The Corner Cafe

A bit off the path from the centre. But a perfect stop when doing the Water of Leith walk. We had a simple toast from here, but they had other appealing foods on the menu. The staff was so lovely and smiley, we would really like to visit this one again.

 

 

 

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