Hola from a digital nomad in Panama
In 2015, Keeon Minors said goodbye to family, friends and everything familiar, and moved to Panama.
It had been his retirement dream. The temperate climate, easy access to other countries and lower cost of living were all appealing.
So in his mid-30s, when he discovered he could build a working life outside Bermuda and away from a cubicle, he went for it.
“It started basically when my mom [Donna Grant] needed my help with her website,” said Mr Minors, who studied computer animation and graphics in college.
“In 2014, she left her job and decided to become an entrepreneur selling furniture and household items online, and wanted a website for that. She didn’t want to spend $30,000 on a website agency and so I helped her.
“I discovered I liked the process. I got her website up and then started my own, www.wearebermuda.com, as a social hub for Bermudians and tourists.
“We used to do videos, interviews, photography and all that good stuff in Bermuda. I started my entrepreneur journey doing that and got better and better.”
The calls came in and Mr Minors started We Are Kreative, a web and digital media agency.
“I like it because you can set your own pace. You’re in control of your own destiny. Your income is pretty much based on what you put out there,” he said, stressing how important it is to be disciplined if you want to succeed.
“If you don’t work, you don’t eat. You have to really earn that paycheque.
“I like the challenge of being my own boss, setting my own schedule. That’s a huge benefit for me.”
He says his company is different from others in that he works mostly with WordPress.
App development is another speciality and, unlike some designers, he’s there for the long haul.
“What I learnt over the years is a lot of web designers build a site and then disappear.
“What I do is build and maintain and host so if [a client needs] content updates or maintenance, if there are errors that need to be fixed or design changes, I help them; I’m on retainer so it helps keep income coming in.
“On top of that I also help people get going if they want to start a digital business. I guide them, help them through it to get their business off the ground.
“When I started to get more clients I realised I could afford to live somewhere else because all my work was through the computer,” the 38-year-old said.
“I could work online and, with technology improving — with voice and video chats for example, Skype and things like that — I was able to communicate with clients just as easy as if I was in front of them.
“So I could travel to different places and work at the same time.”
Panama City, the capital of Panama, seemed the obvious place for him to relocate. Mr Minors was familiar with the Central American country, having visited several times with friends.
Although he doesn’t yet speak Spanish, the official language, he’s “working on it”. It helps that English is widely spoken.
“I always considered that maybe it would be my retirement spot,” he said. “I like it because it’s central to many different countries. It’s easy to hop around.
“I’ve been to Colombia, to many different cities; to Costa Rica. The climate is warm all year round, the people are friendly and the cost of living is good. It’s very relaxed, a laid-back place. It’s a very modern city and it has the countryside as well as beaches.”
A love of travel made the prospect especially appealing.
“I’d always wanted to see and live in different places,” Mr Minors said. “My travel started from when I was very, very young. My mom and dad [Shawn Grant] were always taking me on trips as a young kid. As well, my idols were Indiana Jones and James Bond — they travelled around the world and worked in exotic locations.
“So for me, being in the workforce and working 9 to 5 in a cubicle I realised didn’t work but, there was the opportunity to make it work online.
“And living abroad is much more affordable than living in Bermuda. And it is so much easier.”
In the past three years, he has returned home once. He misses his parents, although they visit frequently, his friends and Bermuda’s beaches.
Bermuda’s “are still number one” despite there being many beautiful seascapes in Panama.
His advice to any would-be digital nomads is to first, “figure out what your passion is”.
“If your passion is to travel, work out how you can sustain constant travel — what you’re good at, what you like doing.
“Otherwise, you will get frustrated when you can’t find the inspiration to work 20-hour days — which you will have to do sometimes. You will have to be passionate and like what you do and be in a market where people want to work with you online.”
• Get in touch with Keeon Minors on keeonminors.com or on Instagram: @keeonm