So, what is a digital nomad anyway?
Simply put, a digital nomad is a person who travels at will (usually frequently) while relying on technology (laptops and the internet) to complete enough work to make their desired income. These people are almost exclusively business owners or freelance contractors, with a few “satellite employees” who are able to fit the requirements.
This lifestyle has been characterized by images of tan people sitting on the beach, sipping a mai tai as they work on a laptop. While this can be an occasional perk, it doesn’t show all sides of this unique situation.
- Finding wifi. You need to make sure you’re travelling to a city that is developed enough for a significant amount of venues to have it, as your entire lifestyle depends completely on finding a reliable, fast connection. This relegates small, undeveloped locations as weekend trips, at best.
- Finding where to live. You may notice that all of the reviews on sites like AirBandB and couchsurfing.com are pretty fantastic. This is because if you leave an–ahem–overly honestly review on a hosts’ page, they’re likely to leave a scathing review on yours. Once you have one bad review, it’s likely you won’t get anyone to rent to you again, so for most who use it, it’s not worth the risk. Every new place is a coin flip whether it’s going to be good or bad.
- Many websites, such as Pandora, are simply banned in other countries. Make sure what you need to work will, before you get there.
- Nobody understands what you’re doing. Your family might think you’re in a “phase”. Your friends probably won’t make the effort to stay in touch when you’re halfway around the world and have little in common – sad but true. Many companies, including Amazon, will not ship outside the country your credit card billing address is in. There are many businesses you may have to deal with, as a contractor, who need a home address, or for you to pick up something in person. These are all things you have to deal with as a digital nomad – is it worth it? I think yes.
The upside to digital nomading:
- Travel at will. Most will spend a few months in each location, and essentially blend in with the locals, as their work week more resembles a normal schedule than tourists. You’ll get a real feel for what each city is like, and if you stay long enough you’ll have friends around the globe.
- The weekends–oh the glorious weekends. Yes, there’s still work to be done, but when you’re free to explore, there’s something brand new! Instead of being in the same suburb you hit puberty in, you’re in Sparta, or Paris, or Lima, and free to roam.
- The cost of living. Generally, as a freelancer with the ability to travel, you’re paycheck is similar to that of someone who works in a major US city–but you don’t have to live in one. Depending on where you chose to travel, the conversion rate can make for a very comfortable lifestyle.
- This is perhaps the best of all–the psychological loophole. We’re constantly craving something new, which is why we want to go to a new restaurant, shop for clothes (even when the dresser is threatening to go on strike for being overworked), and see all the new movies.When you’re a digital nomad, if you’re bored, you move. And because of the novelty of everything, it all seems amazing. Every apartment has beloved quirks, and you appreciate it’s uniqueness–who cares if the shower pressure isn’t that great, you’re leaving in a few months anyways! Each restaurant is delicious, because it’s authentic–the locals don’t think it’s anything out of the ordinary, which is why you love it.Lastly, instead of seeing that new movie, you can hike up the nearby mountain range, or go to the bustling outdoor market, or explore ruins. Every city is new and unique and beautiful.