What is a digital nomad?

The popular proverb “Home is where you hang your hat” can be now paraphrased into “Office is where you turn your laptop on”. A nomadic lifestyle in a digital era has become more possible than ever before (well, maybe not during the pandemic, but still). A tempting perspective of full-time travelling around the world without such limitations as holiday requests, made lots of people leave their 9 to 5 jobs and start living as digital nomads. 

laptop in a coffee shop

Photo by Jane Palash on Unsplash

 

What is a digital nomad?

Simply put, digital nomads are people who often change their place of living and use digital technologies to perform their work duties. Usually, they work on laptops in cafes, coworking spaces, public libraries, hotels, temporary houses, or short-time rentals. 

In many cases, digital nomads are former corporate workers who decided to leave their comfy offices and make a living as freelancers or entrepreneurs. Since they can work from anywhere in the world (as long as they have an internet connection), this lifestyle provides an opportunity to see new places while still earning a steady income. 

A nomadic lifestyle requires you to limit the number of items that you carry in your luggage which is why digital nomads are often minimalists. They move from one country to another every couple of weeks or months, with all their belongings, so they can’t possess too many things – only the absolute necessities. 

Photo by Dave Weatherall on Unsplash

 

Digital nomad jobs

Thanks to technology development, there are more and more online jobs that allow being location independent. The most popular digital nomad jobs are:

  • web developer,
  • software tester,
  • blogger/YouTuber/influencer,
  • writer/copywriter/content writer,
  • online teacher,
  • translator,
  • social media specialist,
  • SEO specialist,
  • UX designer,
  • graphic designer,
  • customer service,
  • Forex trader.
woman working on a beach

Photo by Daria Mamont on Unsplash

 

How did it all begin?

Although digital nomadism seems to be a pretty modern concept, it was actually predicted in the sixties by Artur C. Clarke: “almost any executive skill, any administrative skill, or even any physical skill could be made independent of distance. […] Men will no longer commute – they will communicate”, he said in BBC Horizon series in 1964.

Another person, who anticipated remote work trends, was Robert Noyce, a physicist and founder of Intel Corporation. In 1981 he claimed that people “could live wherever they pleased, without any limitations, as long as the communications and the information is available to them where they are happy to be”. 

Two years later, in 1983, Steven Roberts traveled across the US on a computerized, solar-powered bicycle, staying connected with his clients and publishers. He described that journey in his book “Computing Across America”. 

And finally, in 1997, the term “digital nomad” has been brought to a wider audience’s attention by the book of the same title, written by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners. The authors described the impact of technology on our work and lifestyle, as well as the future, possibilities, and issues of digital nomadism.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

 

Pros and cons of being a digital nomad

The possibility of limitless travelling makes the nomadic lifestyle desirable for many people. However, digital nomads have to face some challenges too. Here are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a digital nomad:

  • flexibility, freedom, and independence – you can work wherever you want
  • ability to travel – you can get to know many different countries, cultures, and people
  • ability to move to the place that offers the best quality of life and/or lower costs of living
  • broaden the horizons 
  • opportunity of learning new skills all the time
  • increased productivity (that actually depends on your approach)
  • more effective time management
  • possibility of achieving higher income
  • no office rules, no dress code
  • personal development
  • struggling with loneliness – it’s harder to maintain long-lasting relationships
  • risk of burnout
  • problems with work/life balance
  • lack of internet access – though it’s hard to believe for some people, there are places on Earth with no WiFi
  • homesickness – when you’re always on the road, you don’t see your family and close ones very often
  • a lot of bureaucracy due to work regulations in different countries (there are things like digital nomad visas but not everywhere)
  • healthcare and insurance issues

As you can see, the digital nomad lifestyle has its ups and downs. It’s definitely not for everyone – although, for many individuals, it can be the best life choice. Do you want to figure out if digital nomadism is right for you? Stay tuned for our next blog posts of this series!