Living the Digital Nomad Lifestyle means relying on the internet to financially sustain a modern nomadic life. This relatively new trend allows you to become location independent and constantly move between cities as countries while working remotely.
The digital nomad lifestyle is rapidly becoming one of the most popular ways of living a nomadic lifestyle. This trend reflects the possibilities that technology offers to create a growing number of Modern Nomads.
The main reasons for the rise of the digital nomad trend are:
- The improvement of internet speed all over the world.
- Growing acceptance of remote work contracts between individuals, freelancers and businesses.
- The appearance of Coworking spaces all over the world allows digital nomads the infrastructure and stability to work effectively without the need for long term lease.
- Abundance of travel apps and services allowing nomads to travel in a more effective way. Those services (E.g. Google Maps, Airbnb) deal with all aspects of life on the road, from accommodation, transportation, health and meeting people.
- Growing number of digital nomad blogs which increase the amount of information on a lifestyle that seems abnormal and irrational at first glance.
The digital nomad trend can be seen as an evolution of backpacking, allowing those who wish to continue their travels to do so in a sustainable way while working on the road and enjoy the advantages of the nomadic lifestyle. Those choosing to become digital nomads are putting emphasize on creating a work environment which is “Location Independent”. Whether it is freelancing, or being a digital nomad entrepreneur, successful digital nomads make sure their model of making a living is done regardless of the place where they stay.
It is interesting to note that while technology is contributing to the rise in the numbers of Modern digital nomads, it is also the main reason behind the fast pace disappearance of ancient nomadic tribes who either choose or are forced to settle down mainly due to technological and cultural changes.
The term Digital Nomad consists of two words: 1) Digital, which implies online remote work, and 2) Nomad, an individual or family who constantly change locations without a permanent stable home.
The following categories of digital nomads are sorted by the level of flexibility and freedom they allow, from low to high:
1. Corporate Remote Workers: These nomads work for one company that allows them, or forces them, to work from home. This allows them to go traveling while having a relatively stable source of income (read more here).
2. Freelancers: These nomads have online jobs that can be performed remotely, such as coding, graphic design, or freelance writing. In this case, the digital nomad is providing services for multiple clients, which frequently change.
3. Entrepreneurs / Startup Owners: Some digital nomads pursue the dream of starting a business as a nomad entrepreneur. This allows increased freedom and the ability to create unique “stuff” independently. In some success scenarios, nomad entrepreneurship potentially allows complete freedom by outsourcing the process or selling the business once it is “ready”. It should be noted that many nomads try operating a travel blog, but few actually make a real living out of it.
After discussing the “Digital” part, let’s jump deeper into the “Nomad” part. Firstly, let’s start with a few definitions. What is qualifies as a nomadic lifestyle? What is the difference between a nomad lifestyle, a “location-free” lifestyle, and a “remote work” lifestyle? The main idea here is that nomads switch locations constantly (preferably to places they have never been before) without having a permanent base.
Digital nomad lifestyles vary substantially according to preferences and characteristics of the nomads (Here is an elaborated case study of the routines and rules I follow). However, there are few similar characteristics shared by those who choose to become digital nomads:
- Style of travel = A digital nomad’s lifestyle tends to have a milder travel component than the lifestyles of other types of nomads. This is because digital nomads are dependent on a certain amount of infrastructure to sustain their lifestyle and, as a result, most digital nomads spend a few months in each place before relocating. This is usually referred as a “Slow Travel“.
- Urban Locations = Digital nomads will generally prefer cities, mainly capital cities. This is due to the infrastructure needed to get work done. Cities usually have better internet connection, a wide variety of coworking spaces and the ability to connect to likeminded people socially.
- Cost arbitrage– Digital nomads will opt to spend more time in developing countries with low cost of living. This allows them to “hack life” by making money from clients in rich countries while greatly increasing their quality of life living in low cost countries. It should be noted that many digital nomads prefer to pick “Digital Nomad Hubs” which are locations that are already popular with other digital nomads, where they can find a community and meet other nomads who share their lifestyle while traveling.
- Environment of work = Some digital nomads prefer to work in Coworking spaces which offer stability and fast internet connection. Other nomads prefer finding the perfect coffee shop or working from their rented apartment or hostel.
- Routines = The digital nomad lifestyle usually pushed people into adapting daily routines which will allow the stability to focus on high quality work. From my experience, most digital nomads adjust themselves to their remote client’s schedule and adapt a regular work week while doing their travels on the weekend.
- Local in disguise = Because of the relative stability and routines associated with the digital nomad lifestyle, those adapting it generally become “locals in disguise.” A digital nomad’s social circle will usually include more locals or fellow digital nomads than tourists, as they stay longer in a location and have the same work schedule as locals.
Overall a digital nomad lifestyle can be very rewarding, as it allows people who love to travel to have an additional extended and sustainable period of life on the road. Even though the digital nomad life is not hectic and includes work and daily routines, we should not underestimate its uniqueness and the ability it offers to click the “Reset” button and completely change a location without much preparation. It should be noted that digital nomads wildly vary in key aspects such as frequency of travel, length of stay, work activities, daily routines, and location preferences. As a digital nomad, you will be fortunate to build and design your life with higher degrees of freedom while also being subjected to the disadvantages and challenges of a nomadic life.