The term “Nomad” has existed for a long time and refers to a person or group who move from place to place with no fixed residence. Historically, nomadic tribes were subsistence farmers, who traveled to find fresh pasture for their animals. However, the term “Digital Nomad” is a phrase that’s only just taken flight in recent years.
Location Independent Laptop Lifestyle
As the name suggests, digital nomads often choose not to settle down in one location. Instead, they live a location independent laptop lifestyle, using the power of the internet to enable them to work where they want and often when they want. The digital nomad trend is becoming more common every day with increasing access and usage of modern technology and fast internet. The rise of the digital nomads also reflects a growing acceptance and demand for remote work contracts between individuals, freelancers, and businesses.
Getting to Know Digital Nomads
It can be hard to pin-point the ins and outs of a digital nomad simply because there are so many types! However, what they do have in common is that they spend at least a few months of the year abroad, change their destinations fairly frequently and earn a living while working online.
If you wanted to know what drives a digital nomad to live the kind of life they do many would say freedom. It’s the freedom to work where they like and to be their own boss. They live a lifestyle where they don’t want to wait until retirement to live out their golden days, they want to enjoy life to the fullest in the now.
For many digital nomads, whilst work is crucial to their livelihood, their world doesn’t revolve around their work life. They often can choose their work hours, how long they work for and such. Since digital nomads work remotely, many choose to live in foreign countries where it’s more affordable to live. They often find workspaces like coffee shops, public libraries and co-working spaces -so long as there’s internet connection, the choice is theirs.
Pun spaces or co-working spaces are common in cities such as Chiang Mai. It makes it easier for digital Nomads to work as an individual or as a group. Meeting other digital Nomads also means more opportunities of learning from one another. They can help each other in finding more options to make money.
In other words, they hate the idea of succumbing to the corporate world of the 9 to 5 job, the long hours of tiring, unfulfilling and boring work.
Digital Nomads and Making Money
This all sounds very nice, but how achievable is it? Well it depends.
Digital Nomads work different jobs. Some choose to specailze in a certain field whilst others choose to run their own online business. The type of work digital nomads do include:
- Graphic Design
- Web Design
- Web Development
- Affiliate marketing
- Drop shipping
Side note: Another way some digital nomads make money is via Patreon and other fan-supporting websites. These payments can be given to them by anyone who wishes to support them in the things they do such as blogging or vlogging.
Digital Nomads and Location
Not all digital nomads travel a lot. Some choose to stay in one place for long time, maybe a few years. It often depends on their desire to explore, their budget and also the opportunities they have at the time. Some may choose to simply explore their own country, whilst others choose to move somewhere else to get a new experience. There are plenty of new or aspiring digital nomads that try that kind of lifestyle for a few months first. The location-independence really depends on the individual. The living costs and expenses again depends on the individual.
The good news is is that there are thousands of digital nomads blogs online. Their lifestyle choice is a great attraction, especially to many freelancers where the transition is considerably easier.
Digital Nomad: Not Your Shortcut to Riches
The transition to becoming a digital nomad for many isn’t an easy one. It’s not simply a “quit your job and pack your bags” kinda situation. Digital nomads aren’t happy-go-lucky type of people either.
The truth is, for most, becoming a digital nomad takes time and careful planning – there a plenty of adjustments and changes that have to be made.
For one, you must be willing to break free and let go of what you’re used to. This includes the security blanket of your day job and the foreseeable work in the future. This alone may cause many to recoil in fear.
However, whilst it’s by no means a smooth road, it’s an exciting one. For once, you are taking full control of your life and you get to make the call. And for some, that’s all it takes. No matter how much it might scare them, it’s still better than the alternative of feeling stuck in a job they don’t like, working their ass off with little return.
If you want to become a Digital nomad, you need to learn from those who already are. Here are some things that can help you get started:
A Substantial Following or Network – This applies for any individual and/or their company. Making the bold decision to become self-reliant ain’t easy but it’s a lot easier when you have a group of people who you know will support you in everything you do and offer. Having a large following increases chances of financial support, whether it’s personal payments or earning through advertising, products and services to your followers. Whereas having a substantial network can also prove to be extremely useful in getting gigs and work opportunities.
Learn New Skills – If you are a jack of all trades but a master of none, it might be hard to sustain your financial needs. You have to be good at some things or at least have one expertise. Digital nomads suggest that learning new skills is helpful for more income. If you already have the skills but are not good enough at it, you have to enhance them. Spending a good amount of time for learning and enhancing skills will help you long-term. Invest in them.
Focus on Being Productive– people who don’t give their best will unlikely become a digital nomad. DMs always give out their best in everything that they do. They value time so much that they don’t procrastinate. They aim productivity each time they get their hands on to work.
The Reality of Being a Digital Nomad
When you think ‘digital nomad’ you may picture someone sipping cocktails by the beach on their laptop. Well you’re not wrong. However, digital nomads encounter just as many challenges, frustrations and mistakes as everyone else. Some of those challenges include:
Health Care Insurance – Not all health care insurances cover international locations. Digital nomads would have to pay for one with an international coverage which can be quite costly.
Reliable Internet Connection – For digital nomads, this is a must. They may encounter places with poor and unreliable Wi-Fi, which can cause problems especially in communicating with their clients or handing something in on time.
Time Zone Differences – Traveling so often may get quite confusing for your potential clients. Your bedtime could be the same time your client would want to set an online meeting with you. So you may have o break some body clock rules and sleeping patterns in order to get the job done.
ATM Transaction Fees – Digital nomads must always try and keep some cash on them in case their card gets blocked when visiting abroad. They have to keep their bank up to date with their travelling affairs and have a good eye on their expenses, which can prove to be difficult when you’re on the go.
Developing Habits – One of the biggest struggles that DMs face is developing habits. By the very nature of their lifestyle, they face constant changes and unpredictable circumstances as they travel. These things may make it harder to be productive, disciplined and organised. As a digital nomad, you’ve got to master time management.
Less Than Ideal Work Environment – Digital nomads may travel a lot but despite their location independence, that doesn’t mean they can work just about anywhere. They still need a good workspace or an ideal environment for the sake of productivity and focus. Sometimes this proves to be difficult.
Uncertain Future Plans – This isn’t necessarily everyone’s case. But many digital nomads work similar to freelancers, and so are always hustling. They may find it hard to set long-term goals because their work opportunities come and go. It may also make it hard for them to keep a relationship or date someone they meet along their travels because of the nomadic lifestyle they choose to live.
Separation Between Work and Leisure Time – Some digital nomads have a hard time separating work from leisure. Making that separation and providing a healthy balance is crucial to the productivity and fulfillment of a digital nomad.
In spite of the disadvantages, it’s important to note that many of the issues listed above are easily managed, it just takes some time getting used to and a bit of forward planning. Hence, many digital nomads still love their lifestyle and wouldn’t ever go back to their 9 to 5 job. For them, the benefits that come with it more than suffices their drive to embrace the lifestyle.
Some Solid Reasons To Be a Digital Nomad
Flexibility– Digital Nomads experience great freedom and flexibility. They are not tied down to their jobs. They are enjoying the experience which is futuristic for others. With this kind of lifestyle, flexibility is at its best. DMs can work anywhere in the world, oftentimes at a time most convenient to them. They don’t wait for retirement to start reaching their dreams and goals in life. They savor it without neglecting their job to support themselves. They get to enjoy two things at the same time. Their lifestyle beats the traditional “work yourself to death then retire” structure. DMs love to travel. With this lifestyle, they get to travel anywhere in the world without the fear of losing their job.
Luxury– though not always in its most literal sense, DMs get to enjoy the luxury of doing things that they love. They don’t spend all their time in making more money but also in having more experiences. They believe that the goal is not to wait for a long time to start reaching their dreams. They reach it now. They live the life of what Tim Ferris calls the New Rich.
Like a Boss– who doesn’t want to work like a boss? Well, maybe those people who want to stay employees forever are an exemption. Digital nomads work like a boss. They are their own boss. While they have clients that they serve in their jobs, it’s them who usually set the rules. They get to decide when and how. Just as long as they give the expected output asked of them by their clients, everything else is in their hands. They’re not required to stay in an office or to work around the clock. It’s everything opposite to what regular office employees experience in their daily lives.
Unlimited Cash Flow – Digital Nomads earn much more than home-based freelancers. DMs can often earn incredible money because of their flexibility and freedom to work. Digital Nomads can be so much more productive than those who “work themselves to death”. In some instances, DMs can get into an agreement or collaborations with each other. This opens up to greater opportunities of making more money. DMs help each other and work together. So for their income capacity, the sky is their limit, as they would say.
Travel, Explore, Repeat – does anything else sound better than this? The kind of lifestyle Digital Nomads embrace is what most people are envious about them. They get to explore different places, not just within their country but also abroad. They get to live anywhere they want, the way they want and wherever they want. It’s kind of like being a citizen of the world – everywhere is your home. DMs love to discover different cultures and experiences. And they have the privilege to do it with their kind of lifestyle.
The Great Influence
Digital nomads have existed before this influential book came out. But according to Digital Nomads who have read it, it influenced most of the way they handle their lifestyle.
“The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss is a well-written, knowledgeable and informative book. It had changed the lives of those who have read it one way or another. Timothy Ferris, the author, was born in 1977 as a premature baby with 10% chance of living. He has a muscular imbalance of the eyes. It was only one out of the countless problems he had encountered in his childhood. He experienced a lot of rejection and painful situations which could have been a good excuse for him to give up. But he chose to fight and work so hard for his dreams.
The 4-Hour Work Week Book teaches practicality and proper use of time and experience. It will change the usual mentality of working yourself to death. It also goes against the traditional mindset of delaying the pleasures of retirement. Tim Ferriss believes that there should be no delay on the “doing”. He also believes that there should be no excuse from achieving your dreams sooner.
Digital Nomads who have read Ferriss’ book are more determined to embrace the lifestyle. Here are some examples:
Dan Andrews was living 9-5 and hated it. He started reading Ferriss’ book and became one of the earliest Digital Nomads. He runs an e-commerce website for cat furniture with his partner and had recently sold it. They currently run Dynamite Circle, a private application-only online community of location independent entrepreneurs. They are one of the largest communities made up of Digital Nomads.
Gabby Wallace used to teach English in Asia. She then decided that she wanted mobility so she started teaching online. Her company Go Natural English now helps intermediate speakers reach fluency. Since embracing the new lifestyle Gabby has been enjoying life to the fullest.
In spite of the fact that some Digital Nomads own a business, it doesn’t mean that you must have one as well. You don’t need to run a company of your own to become a Digital Nomad. Although having one has its advantages.
Clients, Businesses and Digital Nomads
One of the first things you should prioritize is finding clients who will allow you to work remotely for them. Some companies thought it may be too risky a thought to hire Digital Nomads at first. But when they started hiring them, they’ve been proven to be reliable and much more productive workers.
Leap In is an example of a company that works with Digital Nomads. They are a successful Estonian startup company which aims to help creative entrepreneurs. They work with Digital Nomads and other freelancers who takes care of the micro management. And without a doubt, their performance has greatly contributed to their success.
Companies have also seen an improvement on the Digital Nomads because of the trust given to them. They improved in loyalty, tenure and brings in a competitive advantage to their success. This is why they continue to welcome DMs into their circle of reliable people. They would enable their team to adapt to be able to respond to the needs of a DM. In return, their needs and requirements from them are also met in an excellent manner.
Digital Nomad Tips and Advice For You
Digital Nomads learn from their experience. And they aspire to inspire you as you start on this lifestyle of the New Rich. Here are some tips that you can apply as you start your own journey to becoming a Digital Nomad:
Save – saving up is important especially if you’re just a startup. Don’t be too hasty to spend all your money thinking that you’ll get a good amount of cash flow in the long run anyway. Play safe but not too safe that you won’t take leaps of faith. Save as much as you can before your first step and even as you go on. It’s great for emergency needs and future uses you might have unexpected.
Make Money– this is so important to note. Some people get the wrong idea about this lifestyle. They think there is no need of working as hard anymore because of it is unlike a traditional work setup. But the fact is that, DMs work hard but smart and they are productive at it. Working smart doesn’t mean you have to work around the clock. It means maximizing the time you have for work to have more time to do your traveling and exploration. Make money and position yourself in authority. Do what you must do and don’t rely on anything else or others to make things happen for you.
Be Confident – being confident in what you offer is very important. Confidence is a need in a business proposal, client interaction or collaborations. Show confidence in anything that you do. But also remember that no matter how good you are, there’s still room for improvement. There’s always more to learn. Don’t be content of mediocrity. But at the same time, don’t let this aspiration get in the way of your exploration and experiences. You must find a good balance.
Be Humble – humility is not optional. It’s a rule for a person to become successful. It’s also important for when you meet other Digital Nomads. You will meet people who can be better than you at something. And even if for instance you’re than them, keep staying humble. The best way to be able to get along with other DMs you’ll meet is to show humility. If you are humble, you will have more opportunities of building relationships. It’ll also help you get into collaboration with other DMs or do business with companies.
Most Popular Nomad Destinations
Many Digital Nomads prefer to move to countries that are more affordable since they are location-independent. It enables them to live cheaply, whilst quenching their travel bug thirst. What’s more, you don’t have to go since the rise of digital nomads, there are now anll. Here are some of the cities that Digital Nomads’ prefer:
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is often called as the Digital Nomad capital of the world. They’re one of the best places for digital nomads who want cheaper living. They have great food and good weather. The living costs are also affordable. Their internet connection is also reliable which is a must for every Digital Nomad.
Ubud Bali, Idonesia
Bali is also one of the top preferences for Digital nomads. They have great activities that you can enjoy while living there. Getting a tourist visa is also easy and cheap. Unfortunately, some DMs have experienced unreliable connection in the area. But because of the growing number of Digital Nomads, they’ve created co-working spaces. One of these is the Hub in Ubud.
Goa is a paradise for the hippies. It’s the best startup location if you want to explore India. The living costs are cheap which would be a great place to live for every digital nomad.
Tips For Survival (Location-Wise)
There are a few tips that will help you choose the right location for your DM needs:
- Choose a location that offers a good quality of life
- Choose a location that offers a low cost of living
- Choose a location that has a reliable Wi-Fi connection
Some Digital Nomads believe that having a temporary home is also crucial. It is great for when you would like to take a break from traveling and exploring places. If you think this is something you’d like to do, here are some things you need to consider:
- Time Frame – figure out how long you’ll be staying and in what pace
- Location – know where you would want to work. Find outif these work spaces outside your home would cater your work needs. Consider matters like finding a quiet space or a good environment for focused work.
- Workspace – find a work-friendly space that you can use as your office when you are working. Choose a place where it’s convenient for you to use your laptop.
- Plans – what are your plans and alternatives if they don’t turn out to be what you need?
All in All…
The lifestyle of a Digital Nomad is ideal for a lot of us. It changes your perspective about life and work. It helps you learn how to do less meaningless work to focus things that are more important. It also helps you get rid of laziness and procrastination. The New Rich, as mentioned by Tim Ferris, does not rely on the “someday” of things but on the “now”. They are wise about their effort and time. They are productive at what they do. They make every effort worth it and every step adventurous. And if you think you would do anything to be free from the burden of having a 9-5 job, this lifestyle is for you.
Christine has been working in the field of freelance for just over 7 years, specializing in copy-writing, social media and voice-overs.
Describing herself as a "social media bee 24/7", Christine has an undying passion for photography and music.