In this guide, you will learn about: the top technical and personal skills a digital nomad must have, the benefits and challenges of becoming a digital nomad, the most popular jobs for digital nomads, the most useful business management tools, all taxation issues you have to consider before starting your nomadic life, and the top hubs for digital nomads worldwide.
Becoming a digital nomad starts before deciding to quit your job, pick up your things, and get on a plane to a far destination. Aspiring digital nomads have a hunger in their hearts for independence (professional and personal) and an insuppressible need to see the world. Living as digital nomads means that people take their future into their hands, conscious of all the “bumps, cracks, and obstacles,” as C.S. Lewis described. If they persevere, then the reward down the road can be a professional success and personal balance.
However, digital nomadism is not a leap of faith. It is a planned and well-structured shift in life. First, professionals need to build their skill sets. They should find the right working processes and communication strategies to start freelancing or create a small agency. Subsequently, the decision to join the digital nomad movement will not be an impulsive act but the ultimate purpose.
Digital nomads may be nomadic by nature, but their digital dimension springs from lifelong learning of various technological advancements. Thus, they should update their specialized knowledge to back up their choices. Plus, they should know and prepare for every aspect of digital nomadism.
This ebook aims to offer valuable information to professionals like you to facilitate the jump on the traveling wagon. More specifically, it is divided into ten chapters. The first chapter answers the question, “Who are the digital nomads?” The second one explores the history behind them and the factors that helped this new wave of professionals evolve. The third chapter explains the essential skills a digital nomad should possess, while the fourth focuses on the nomadic professions with the highest demand.
Following, the fifth one showcases the benefits of the digital nomad lifestyle. In contrast, the sixth draws attention to the possible challenges accompanying the decision to become a digital nomad along with suitable solutions. In the next chapter, we discuss the various software categories indispensable to most digital nomads. Moving on, throughout the eighth section, we dive into taxation laws from different parts of the world. Then, the ninth part refers to ideal destinations for global digital nomads. Finally, we look into the future of the digital nomad movement, examining the factors that will affect its future potential and evolution.
Who are the digital nomads?
According to Wikipedia, “digital nomads are a type of people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner.” They do not work from a fixed place; their work is carried out online through computers, smartphones, and tablets. This implies a constant need for a steady internet connection since it is their primary gateway to earning income. Digital nomads relocate as frequently as possible and change projects and clients. In a broader sense, digital nomads could be described as “freelancers on the move.” However, there are different kinds of professionals in the spectrum of digital nomadism.
Self-employment might just be the most popular working state at present. In the last decade, the freelancing movement has been rejuvenated since more and more professionals have decided to leave their office-based jobs behind. Of course, the rise of websites like freelancer.com, UpWork, remote.co, and PeoplePerHour offers a variety of opportunities to get plenty of contract work. Freelancers usually work with specific clients, project by project, or find their startups. They enjoy the luxury of choosing their ventures and controlling their professional development.
There is a high demand for expert professionals in the business market, and freelancers are a great fit. Moreover, their rates range from satisfying to impressive, especially for the experienced ones. The newer freelancers may start with lower rates, but the know-how they gain can methodically improve their services and, subsequently, their rates. Another positive factor for freelancers is that more and more companies have started outsourcing tasks and projects. So, employers have the chance to search and find suitable candidates for their projects thanks to the abundance of available professionals.
In contrast to freelancing, remote workers are part of a company’s personnel. Their common characteristic with freelancers is that they are not office-bound. They work from home, in co-working spaces, or any other place they choose, provided that there is an internet connection. In reality, they are regular employees with paid health insurance and structure in their working life. Remote workers balance the traditional and modern business world. They have the spatial freedom of a freelancer and all the perks of an employee. This is why an increasing number of professionals have started working remotely. According to research by the US Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Global Workplace Analytics, and FlexJobs, the number of telecommuters in the USA has radically increased by 159% between 2005 and 2017. While after the beginning of COVID-19, this number has skyrocketed. Based on the 11th annual state of independents report by MBO partners, the full-time independents in the US, those who work more than 15 hours per week, rose 3.4 million, or 25%, from 13.6 million to 17 million.
Remote workers are telecommuting and do not physically attend company meetings. They espouse freelancing values and take all the freedom they can get. They also use all technology’s communication/project management tools, such as Slack, Trello, Asana, Google Hangouts, and Skype. However, professionals who work from home and go to the office from time to time for meetings are considered digital nomads. So, to sum up, freelancers can be excellent digital nomads while remote workers pose as the latest, most liberal type of company employee.
The digital nomads' history
Surprisingly, the story behind digital nomads has its roots in its second word. In prehistoric times, the Greek term “Nomads” signified a flock of people roaming for pasture. They also directly opposed the later mainstream norm of the settlers who dominated the world in ancient times. Since the Ice Age, nomads have been groups that moved from one place to another for long periods. Whether people traded their goods, artists sold their craft, or groups like the Bedouins moved along with their livestock, nomadism is not a modern lifestyle.
Throughout the millennia, the status of the nomad has evolved. During the late 20th century, nomadism was affected by the growth of technology and socio-economic changes. In the 1960s and 1970s, the hippie culture adopted the nomadic lifestyle. Thus, nomadism was synonymous with freedom, new experiences, and soul-searching for the flower children. Their worldview gave birth to the “Hippie Trail,” a journey across land ranging from Europe to South Asia. This Trans-Eurasian path was meant to spark off the backpacking movement and the alternative lifestyle.
According to Daniel Schlagwein, the 1980s saw the creation of the Internet. It was also the decade of the firsts. The first service providers, Toshiba’s first consumer laptop, and the first satellite phone system by Motosat (an early predecessor to mobile phones) were introduced. During the last decade of the 20th century, the World Wide Web’s development, Internet Explorer’s appearance (1995), and the possibility to search the Web emerged. After a few years, computers, laptops, and mobile phones became more reasonable in price and thus more approachable to customers. Additionally, Wi-Fi, the most valuable digital asset, appeared on laptops setting professionals free from connectivity restraints. Near the end of the decade, online transactions through online banking and PayPal also came into the picture to give much more flexibility to the existing financial system.
The first decade of the 21st century exhibited the emergence of social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Before long, they brought about a change in the business market. Even more crucial for the digital nomads are the innovations of “cloud computing” (2002) and Google AdSense (2003) that served the need for online storage of information and ads creation, respectively. Last but not least, the Internet grew faster, cheaper and with many more complementary technological advancements like the voice over internet protocol calls through Skype (2003) and video calls.
The road to spatial independence, paved during the 1990s and early 2000s, was perfected in the 2010s. All the technological innovations, business advancements, and socio-economic changes helped digital nomads claim their spots in the job market. Between 2013 and 2014, according to Google Trends, people started to show an increasing interest in digital nomadism by searching it online. Consequently, in 2015, they became the center of attention with communities congregating online. Moreover, there was an increasing number of emerging co-working spaces and conferences worldwide. Around the same time, Instagram became the number one application for digital nomads. It showcased a lifestyle incredibly desirable to the conventional 9 am-5 pm working professionals. Since 2013 the dominance of virtual currencies like Bitcoin has increased the financial freedom for digital nomads even more. They could (and still can) operate globally, regardless of fiat currencies, borders, and nations.
Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020 and has gradually accelerated digital nomadism even more. Due to the global restrictions on travel and the new ways of working, traditional employees realized the possibility of pursuing new terms in their employment, reaching a better work-life balance. As a result, many have started resigning from their regular jobs and following digital nomadism as their new way of living and working.
Digital Nomads' must-have skills
Digital nomads take a different path in life, professionally and personally. Therefore, the ones that want to join the movement should have some or all of the skills described below. Most of these technical and personal skills are not specific to a single occupation and are not intended only for people in the tech industry. They are indispensable to professionals who do business on the Internet and seek to roam the world.
The technical skill set of a digital nomad
As of 2019, the craft of writing for marketing purposes has become the most sought-after one in the job market. From technical to creative and content, all kinds of writing can land professionals pretty good freelance gigs. In marketing, the result of the writing process is called “copy,” and therefore, this skill is coined “copywriting.” It entails anything written about advertising a product or service, from a blog article to a social media post and an email campaign. Being a qualified copywriter creates many opportunities for freelance work and financial autonomy. Copywriting can be an excellent asset for those who intend to start or already have a freelance gig or company. They will be equipped to market themselves and their business ventures without external help. After all, content marketing is an essential strategy for digital nomads who manage their content, sell it, and define their niche audience.
Influencing a website’s/web page’s position in a search engine is necessary to improve online content ranking. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the number one acronym in today’s job market. Professionals focus on SEO to attract organic (ideally) and paid (sometimes inevitably) traffic. They find the right keywords for the respective content and target suitable audiences to increase traffic, leads, and overall performance. Thankfully, WordPress offers plug-ins like Yoast SEO to accommodate the dissemination of content through Google and Bing.
Photo and video editing
The online construction of a brand is rooted in content, but the presentation also attracts audiences. Therefore, digital nomads should be able to edit their photos, videos, and texts. Unfortunately, great online content sometimes gets the short end of the stick. The accompanying design may not be of high quality or even suitable for the content. For this reason, nomadic professionals should create multimedia content or have the basic knowledge to set up their websites, campaigns, and social media presence.
Moreover, an adequate understanding of Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Premiere Pro will significantly impact the quality of their work. Free tools like GIMP and Inkscape can also accommodate basic design needs. If they need to outsource advanced editing jobs to other nomads, their understanding of photo and video editing can help explain what they want aesthetically and practically.
Aside from all the creative and technical skills needed, lone rangers should also organize their businesses. Using spreadsheets allows for setting up workflow processes and tracking different work aspects consistently. Excel, Google Sheets, and OpenOffice are examples of software that can help digital nomads put their business endeavors in order. They will organize their data and work on the math functions they need to visualize their charts and graphs. Highly organized professionals will likely use project management and productivity tools on top of spreadsheets for a complete overview of their projects.
The soft skills of a digital nomad
Digital nomads trade their spot in an office for a life out in the wide open. They should be able to find the right balance between work and travel. Naturally, this is a difficult feat that requires effort and persistence. Nomadic professionals should establish rules to live their chosen lifestyle successfully. Freelancing from around the world means some beach time or nights out must be skipped. Hard work and dedication are essential to earning a living as a digital nomad. Thus, submitting projects on time shows reliability and respectfulness towards their clientele.
The unpredictability of digital nomadism is a known fact. Different projects, new places, and various living costs contribute to a lifestyle that needs careful financial planning. Choosing to interchange between places and situations comes at a price. The United States and Europe have higher living costs, while South Asian and African countries pose as cheaper alternatives. Regardless of the average income, a budget amount should be reserved for unexpected situations and possible miscalculations. Digital nomads can enjoy life but not overdo it with too much spending. They should know their financial state by tracking time, invoices, expenses, and projects through all-in-one financial management software. Then, they will determine how to spend accordingly.
Digital nomads have a long list of things to organize that concern their professional success and intertwine with their personal lives. They are traveling around the world while working requires meticulous planning for every small detail. Dedicated digital nomads should always arrange their accommodation and transportation. Moreover, finding a fast and steady internet connection is the most crucial concern since it is necessary to work. Elaborate research on each new location can help with mental preparation regarding upcoming adventures. Do not forget that new places should match personal nomadic interests and aspirations to expand, evolve, and learn. Thus, finding temporary home bases must be based on many factors. They should gratify the nomadic need for adventure while facilitating organized freelance work.
This soft skill is why digital nomads reject the 9 am-5 am schedule. They crave professional freedom and work better without a plan set by others. They prefer to have a flexible workplace and timetable to travel and explore. Working at night on weekdays and long hours on the weekends? Or taking off as many weekdays as possible? All these admittedly sound like a nomad’s weekly routine. However, professionals should also be flexible when too much occurs or circumstances suddenly change. For example, freelancers will postpone pleasure to get the job done or even multitask on a project to finish and polish it on time. Flexibility, paired with control and organization, is the best working combination.
Finally, a digital nomad’s most critical soft skill is positivity since this lifestyle is less glamorous than everyone thinks. As mentioned before, freelancing is not all travel and fun. Due to work overload, there will be difficult times when nomads are alone with no team or colleagues to back them up. Or dry seasons when the work is limited to non-existent. By default, digital nomads experience a life of ups and downs since they create their own rules with less stability and more excitement. So, the best tactic for digital nomads is to continually search for the new gig, not get floored by rejection, and continuously improve their skills no matter the weather.
Popular jobs for digital nomads
Digital nomadism is not just a state of mind. It also describes an active lifestyle that fulfills the professionals' criteria. Most freelancing jobs are tech-related or entail the knowledge of universal skills that can be applied anywhere. Digital nomad careers get more common by the day. So, let us dive into the jobs that digital nomads choose and can be performed remotely without problems.
It will be an app or a web developer; working as one constitutes a suitable profession for a digital nomad. Since this is a purely technical profession, it is no wonder why companies hire remote developers to build apps and software. Thus, the need for long physical meetings or face-to-face interaction ceases. Coding, programming, and testing all share a common ground; they can be done exclusively from a computer. Thus, **developers are truly free from the constraints of an office. Proof of that fact is that most remote job search websites (remoteok.io & remote.co) have a long list of positions that belong to the “dev” specialization. On top of the high demand, developers are highly paid, respected in their fields, and have ample professional development opportunities. In analogy, developers are to the 2010s what finance professionals were to the 1990s.
A digital nomad is after a life of freedom, and copywriting is another way to achieve it. If someone loves writing, is good at it, and can deliver exciting content to clients. Working exclusively as a copywriter may not bring the amount of money a developer would get. However, it is a profession with many opportunities and good revenue prospects after being active for some time in the business field. More specifically, essential pieces of equipment are a unique but flexible writing voice, a high linguistic command, and hard work.
Online teaching has been a growing trend since 2014. People who turn to digital nomadism have a few years of experience in their CVs and get curious to explore education outside the typical classroom boundaries. There are hundreds of language companies that teach English and many other languages around the globe through skype. Teachers can even rent virtual classrooms and gather their students for cyber lessons. The norm of online teaching challenges the notion of traditional learning. Thus, instructors should invent ways to make their lesson plans and material stimulating enough for their students to stay engaged. This line of work is ideal for digital nomads since they can travel and teach from any place with an internet connection.
Digital marketing is a very hip but saturated market to be in. It is also exciting since it needs a combination of different skills. Think email, social media, content, affiliate marketing, SEO knowledge, and copywriting. In this day and age, two extra valuable prerequisites are the know-how of video editing and data analytics. In many cases, there’re companies that hire digital marketers to run seasonal performance campaigns on different platforms like Adwords, Facebook and Bing ads. So, online marketers are like managers to Hollywood stars. Everything in written form, from content to banners and video ads, is their responsibility. That is why they are paid well and trending as one of the hottest freelance professions.
Social media specialists
Nowadays, any business is as good as its social media presence. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter should tell the brand’s story fun and captivatingly. At that point, social media specialists come to the rescue. They form a concrete social media strategy and follow it across different platforms. Their duties are content creation and moderation, online engagement, and keeping a strong brand image at the forefront. Since nomads could be spread to various time zones, they’re excellent for replying fast to requests and for social listening.
Another highly demanded profession is that of the designer. It could be user interface designers, user experience designers, or both. The appearance and usability of a website, application, and software are critical points to the success of a tech product. Great UX designers are getting paid more than UI ones. They work not only on the product’s strictly visual aspect but also on the tone of the design, the emotions to be invoked, and their impact on the users. Therefore, many UI designers choose to receive further education to conquer user experience territories.
Administrative assistance/ Customer support
Some virtual businesses need reliable administrative help connecting, controlling, and informing everyone about the company’s course. Other professionals that saw themselves as autonomous and rising in the freelance market are the administrative assistants and customer support agents. The administrative officers usually undertake the bookkeeping of expenses, scheduling meetings/appointments, and communicating with employees considering their availability. Secretarial tasks like filing, editing, and proofreading are also parts of the job.
On the other side, the customer support representatives are there to support company clients. These agents should be ready to listen and knowledgeable enough to solve problems, cover questions, and accept feedback and ideas. Again, multi-national companies would prefer to hire digital nomads for this position to take advantage of the different time zones where they are located.
Through extensive research, most of the job searching forums and websites point out how legal services by freelance lawyers (aka contract lawyers) are very well paid. This sounds like the perfect deal because these professionals continue having the same business stature minus the hustle and bustle of working for a law firm. The freelance highway can be immensely profitable for those with substantial hands-on experience as lawyers. Criminal, family, property, labor, and corporate law have many freelance practitioners who don’t like long hours and appreciate the flexibility of being a freelancer. However, compared to all the other professions on this list, studying law takes a lot more time (around seven years of study) and effort to reach a high level of mastery. So, it cannot be the first choice when considering a career change.
Benefits of being a digital nomad
Choosing to become a traveling professional in this world is a lifestyle choice. As an emerging working trend, it has various advantages, mostly related to the things you leave behind. Most of the time, the following benefits lead people to become digital nomads in the first place.
No commuting to work
The journey to and from work is burdening employees around the world. Especially if they commute by car, avoiding traffic is a significant win. Subsequently, stress, frustration, and tiredness accompany the process of commuting and can affect performance decrease. For people who become digital nomads, the obligation to commute disappears along with the wasted time they have allotted to it. Not to forget that digital nomads are also saved from the added expenses of commuting, such as gas, tickets, and taxi fares.
Set your freelancing schedule
Being an employee regulates a big part of your everyday life. It arranges how people work, the people they collaborate with, and the hours they are obliged to work. One of the perks, when professionals make their schedule, is taking breaks and being flexible. Becoming a digital nomad relieves people from following the 9 am to 5 pm schedule or working with people they do not match professionally. Freelancers can work in the morning, evening, or after midnight to find their peak productivity hours. On the whole, working on their own accord can result in happier people who take on projects they like and evolve as professionals outside a company’s framework.
Escape office policies
Strictly imposed dress codes and clean desk policies also belong to the past. The people that leave behind their office cubicles also escape office regulations they previously had to adhere to. Another rule that companies may use to restrict employees is the side-hustle policy dictating that employees cannot have a second line of work. Thus, people who do not want to dress up, keep everything in order at all times at their desks, or choose to have more than one side project, should think about going freelance.
Take on projects that interest you
Digital nomads do not have to employ skills to work on projects that are not stimulating enough. They can decide what kind of clients they prefer to collaborate with. Their chosen clients can also help them build a professional circle by bringing along more clients with similar projects or spreading the good word to their network. This kind of professional ownership offers them more chances to make their job enjoyable.
Working and traveling as a digital nomad
Since digital nomads do not have fixed workspaces, they can take their workload to places they want to visit or wherever they want to relocate. South Asian and Latin American countries are popular with freelancers due to their incredible beauty, exciting cultures, and cheaper living costs. Therefore, if freelancers can find a steady and fast internet connection, the world offers a multitude of travel destinations. This approach to work and life gives people the chance to be bold, ready to experience new things, stay highly motivated, and work hard to make it last as long as possible.
Join an international digital nomad community
Moving around the globe is an excellent opportunity to meet new people. Apart from the locals, professionals can be part of an expanding digital nomad community. They are people with the same mentality, aspirations, and lifestyle. A 2018 research has shown that 4.8 million people identify as digital nomads. Thus, there are endless possibilities to meet like-minded digital nomads, exchange experiences, and keep in touch even from a distance, thanks to the gift of the internet. Moreover, there are community websites like Nomad List, Digital Nomad World, or the digital nomad subreddit where fellow digital nomads exchange information on job openings, experiences, and co-working spaces. They aim to help new members find their way and strengthen the social bond between digital nomads everywhere.
Achieve financial growth
Transitioning from 9 am-5 pm to freelance work does not have only personal benefits but also financial ones. If you picture digital nomads as poor wandering backpackers, think again. Many freelancers and digital entrepreneurs are financially stable and even wealthy. Especially, Western digital nomads who decide to live and work abroad can do it successfully. For example, a European professional can live in Bali for less than $915 per month (accommodation, food, transportation, and entertainment), as thebrokebackpacker.com shares. Digital nomadism as a lifestyle is viable and can be highly profitable for professionals, depending on their field and their work.
Broaden your learning horizons
For a digital nomad, lifelong learning is a choice regardless of professional skills or life experiences. Traveling around the world and getting the chance to live in places where different cultures, religions, crafts, and languages are open for exploration is a significant learning treat. For example, learning a language online or in a class is beneficial, but there is no comparison between those two and actual practice. Especially if someone moves to countries where English is not extremely widespread, they will need to learn the language basics to communicate and connect with the place. On the other hand, if you have been learning Spanish, there is no better place to perfect your speech skills than living in South America.
On top of learning languages, individuals can explore extreme hobbies and multicultural arts and crafts that they would not have the chance to try in their native countries. Cultural education should always coexist with professional development. Otherwise, digital nomads would become multiskilled robots instead of colorful adventurous people. So, they focus on creating ties with their temporary homes on a cultural and spiritual level since material things are not the end goals of nomadic traveling.
Challenges & solutions for digital nomads
Naturally, such a change in personal and professional lifestyle poses several difficulties. Digital nomads may be relieved from office restraints, but they have different issues to deal with. So, we will address challenges and their possible solutions that concern digital nomads around the world.
Challenge: Income uncertainty
Traveling worldwide while working on various projects is not a stable path. Freelancers primarily work on a project basis. They can have multiple tasks during a specific period and nothing of great importance for the next couple of months. The existing business circle and each professional’s networking skills can bring about new projects but not always. The variable income may come from clients changing their minds or production issues requiring attendance. Of course, contract disputes, cancellations, and unreliable clients are other reasons financial stability can be shaken.
Solution: Making savings
Digital nomads should be (or become) experts in money-saving to prepare for a rainy day. They need to have a financial plan to fall back on. The best advice is to save sufficient funds as a safety net before they start freelancing. With this backup, digital nomads will manage financially without any incoming revenue for some time. Professionals should also learn not to overspend during financial prosperity but save money. Another great tip is to ensure that the notice period in long-term contracts with clients is adequate (30 days is the norm). This way, freelancers will have time to find new projects to gain income.
Challenge: The work will not be easy
Many people wrongfully believe that freelancing is a passive form of income. Working alone and traveling worldwide does not necessarily make it easier to get things done. Discipline and motivation are of paramount importance to any digital nomad. Before building a client base, they may need to work all week long, on public holidays, and during their vacation. So, they should organize their time and moderate expectations to reach a certain level of financial freedom and security.
Solution: Aim high and work hard
There is no solution to this challenge. It is a necessary evil, but there should be a kind of determination behind working and preset expectations to endure the hard work. Moreover, freelancers must choose their battles wisely since they cannot do everything. Thus, they should learn to motivate themselves and, most importantly, organize their working time to do things correctly.
Challenge: Difficulty in hitting project milestones and deadlines
While trying to put their lives in order or living the sweet life, digital nomads have to commit to working, achieve project goals, and meet deadlines. Since they decide when, how, and what they will be working on, tough decisions must be made. Project management may be challenging when no boss or team is around to reinforce goals and set scheduling guidelines.
Solution: Careful planning and consistency
Employees are part of a team and collaborate with colleagues and managers to distribute, prioritize, and manage the workload. On the other hand, freelancers must assume the responsibility of deciding which working processes to choose and which tasks or projects will be prioritized due to urgency, importance, or workload.
Digital nomads can achieve effective project scheduling and resource management to organize tasks and meet deadlines. In particular, freelancers should set clear targets and deadlines to create their production systems. They could also use online calendars to have a complete overview of important dates and milestones. Of course, with the help of project management software that can make things much more manageable.
Challenge: Time management of projects
Operating remotely and alone makes the need for improved time management imperative. Most digital nomads worldwide charge an hourly rate, so it is essential to track their time. Projects may have different hourly rates, and things can get complicated without strict working processes. Knowing how much time is spent on individual tasks and overall projects can make a difference in the final invoice. Otherwise, income can be lost, and time worked may never be remunerated fairly.
Solution: Use the right time tracking software
Time and project management go hand in hand. At Elorus, we detected the growing demand by freelancers, agencies, and digital nomads for all-in-one business software. Thus, we have centered our focus on creating a software packaged with diverse time tracking, invoicing, and project management features.
Having strong software assistance can help professionals manage projects by setting hourly rates and tracking time per task while monitoring expenses and costs. Another beneficial aspect of time tracking is keeping a timesheet calendar where people can track working hours daily and per task to fully control their work.
In the end, freelancers can create and send invoices within a few clicks and get paid. They will also know how much revenue they should receive and gain insight into their business financial state. This kind of business knowledge can be extracted from a wide range of reports Elorus offers regarding time, clients, sales, invoices, project progress, and expenses. To sum up, digital nomads should seek software that encompasses a variety of features for a complete overview of their freelancing ventures.
Challenge: Blending work and life
Employees become digital nomads to follow their dream of achieving professional freedom. When people become freelancers, they become their bosses. However, the limits between working and living can be indiscernible. Digital nomads understand that working solo implies that sacrifices have to be made. This does not mean that personal time gets lost and work coexists with pleasure around the clock. The truth is, though, that digital nomads find it hard to separate work from leisure time. Having to collaborate with clients in different time zones, falling prey to procrastination, excessive workload or even idleness are some of the main problems for a digital nomad.
Solution: Balancing work and life
Balancing instead of blending work and life is the most suitable approach for a digital nomad. Proper organization can benefit professionals to separate their free time from work. Digital nomads should manage their work and run their days efficiently. Therefore, professionals need to create a working routine and follow it religiously. For example, having regular meals, tracking time and tasks, listening to focus music, and working during the most productive daily hours help immensely. At the same time, free time should be sacred. During that leisure time, digital nomads should plan trips, practice hobbies, and get a taste of local food and drinks to find balance in life. Understandably, it is not an easy feat to achieve, but it can bring about work-life balance.
Challenge: Time zones issues
Time is of the essence, but time zones can be a tricky subject. Traveling the world implies that your clients and collaborators will not necessarily be in the same city, country, or time zone. That is the nature of digital nomadism. Communication is achievable from any corner of the globe. However, digital nomads should be ready to synchronize their everyday life and work with their clients' time zones. Having very early morning online meetings and after midnight talks or delivering projects during unconventional times can occur during a digital nomad’s career.
Solution: Personal discipline and accountability
When clients are in a time zone with more than a 10-hour difference, digital nomads should organize their work to meet deadlines and be punctual with meetings. Independent contractors and clients should be able to adjust their everyday life and find ideal time slots to telecommunicate.
Regarding the work that needs to be done, professionals should focus on the client’s time zone, be proactive in managing emails, or discuss project issues on time—for example, sending a critical question 2 days before the project deadline is not practical or effective. The client will take at least a day to answer, and by then, the time to work on changes will have elapsed. It is only natural that digital nomads may struggle to sync with clients in different time zones, especially during their early beginnings. It takes time to successfully develop communication and working strategies to carry out projects regardless of time zones. At the same time, digital nomads should set and uphold limits to prevent clients from sending countless emails with requests at any given moment. Therefore, freelancers should get all the necessary information at different project stages to work efficiently and not depend continuously on client instructions and feedback.
Challenge: Poor communication
Distance sometimes takes its toll on collaborations. Freelancers need to have a steady and well-structured way of communicating with clients. This way, they can progress with the assigned projects promptly. Discussions on work development, adjustments, and milestones are essential to the success of projects. Some companies, especially those not accustomed to working with digital nomads, may not be present, inclusive regarding updates, or even attentive to their outsourced projects.
Solution: Set an organized communication plan
Freelancers should set communication rules to ensure that they will work on projects without miscommunication or blind spots. They should be straightforward about the contact frequency and the information they need to work effectively. If the client is not engaged enough, the digital nomads should step in to increase communication, share updates, and discuss future steps. Feedback, ideas, or remarks on the project’s progress are extremely valuable but can only be achieved if the communication bridges between client and contractor have been built properly.
Another solution to the issue of poor communication would be the use of a client portal. Online cloud software allows sharing information about tracked time, billable hours, expenses, and project-related files. By doing so, communication can improve since clients will be updated on the development of projects at any given time.
Challenge: Untrustworthy clients
Throughout their careers, freelancers will come across clients that promise work never delivered or even give rush jobs without prior coordination. Some may leave unsettled outstanding payments or intend not to pay at all. Others will create problems and get into contract disputes. Poor communication could also be a sign of a client that cannot be trusted. So, collaborating with the client types mentioned above can harm the nomads' time management, revenue, and overall business control.
Solution: Concretize contracts, terms, and conditions
Freelancers should set criteria, payment terms, conditions, and late fees to protect their work. These protection measures should also help professionals assess future projects. A detailed plan of tasks, a pre-agreed payment method, the hourly rate, and the project’s duration are essential parts of a contract. After clients sign the agreement, they will receive deliverables discussed in detail after prior communication with the freelancer. Moreover, they should pay the amount corresponding to the hours needed to fulfill the project. Thus, a contract safeguards both parties' rights and obligations.
Naturally, there will be cases of bad payers, but some clients may be in a time of need and ask for a payment extension. Therefore, digital nomads should contact and inform clients about payments that are due or about to politely. This way, they may salvage business relations and avoid taking the legal road.
Challenge: Wave goodbye to paid holidays and workplace comforts
An employee’s position encompasses various things people want to leave behind, but it offers some perks too. Thus, being self-employed means that they have no paid holidays. Moreover, the standard office space with a stable internet connection, ergonomic office chair, and endless quantities of coffee are not within their reach anymore. Digital nomads should weigh both professional paths and choose according to their needs and aspirations.
Solution: Εmbrace self-paid vacations and nomadic workspaces
Saving money for a challenging period is not the only reason to put funds aside. Usually, clients do not agree to pay vacations to independent contractors. Since freelancers are not part of the workforce, paid holidays are non-existent. So, freelancers can go on holiday for three days or a month if they do not harm their bank accounts. However, vacation time should not be viewed as an escape from work. For example, living in Bali can be seen as a continuous working vacation where limits have been applied, and there is no need to get away.
Regarding workplace comforts, freelancers can find suitable workplace comforts in various co-working spaces that have sprung up worldwide in the last decade. Even an organized Airbnb or closeby cafe with a stable internet connection and a quiet working area will serve their business needs. After all, a chair, a cup of coffee, and an office desk are not reasons enough to keep freelancers from hunting their dreams.
Challenge: Interpersonal relations and the feeling of loneliness
Roaming around the globe and staying at each destination for six months (maybe less, maybe more) are not the most favorable conditions for developing deep, steady relationships. Leaving behind every new friend you have made and going to the next place does not sound like the easiest thing in the world. A flight back home is not as fast or cheap for a world traveler. Thus, digital nomads miss their circle of people (parents and friends) since they do not see them regularly due to traveling or excessive workload.
Solution: Plan with loved ones, be open to new friendships
Digital nomads need to have a great relationship with themselves since their social and personal lives can be hard to structure. They get to know various delightful people, but in the end, they find it hard to build strong bonds with people. So, they should try to keep in touch with the people they match. Even if they don’t see each other due to traveling, they can develop friendships with people with similar experiences and mentality.
Another great idea would be to travel with fellow digital nomads or pick places where friends and acquaintances already live. Another way to approach this issue is to constantly contact family and friends to proactively organize meet-ups for important events (birthdays, weddings, etc.) and vacations.
Challenge: It is difficult to possess much
As you can imagine, frequent relocations can be challenging for digital nomads, but it is part of their philosophy. Their home is their belongings, but their baggage cannot be much. Furniture and things that do not fit in a suitcase and a backpack are out of the question. So, choosing the life of a digital nomad means that material things are not a priority. Subsequently, the notion of “home” changes. Home is not a building or a specific place anymore; it is a feeling. Nomads move around frequently; carrying all the necessary clothes, work equipment, and personal things is like having their homes with them.
Solution: Pack smart, travel light
Digital nomads that travel with too many possessions may face difficulties in moving around. Getting no new stuff in the course of their travels is practically difficult. New clothes, furniture, and souvenirs bond people with places and give them a sense of belonging. However, many people may struggle with this lifestyle if they are too attached to places and things. Still, if a committed digital nomad owns things, there are costly or profitable alternatives to handle them. They must either ship the items back home or sell them before moving on to the next destination.
Challenge: Equipment safety
Unmistakably, the most valued possessions of digital nomads are their equipment. They cannot work without them, as doctors cannot operate without surgical instruments. Laptops, mobile phones, tablets, external drives, chargers, and cables are standard equipment. Some are cheap, and some others are pretty expensive. Needless to say that different professions demand different tech gadgets. Unfortunately, the gear may be at risk while traveling due to theft, weather conditions, and unfortunate events.
Solution: Provisional measures and insurance coverage
Digital nomads should choose their accommodation wisely to ensure their gear will be locked and safe in their rooms. At the same time, professionals should have all the accessories to protect their things from the rain, the sun, and extreme conditions. An even better suggestion is to put the equipment in a vault (if available) at the co-living space, hostel, or hotel they stay in.
Of course, there is always the option to get digital nomad insurance. Travel insurance companies like World Nomads and Safety Wing cover tech whose value rises to $2500-$3000. Insurance information can also alter based on the respective country of residence, so be sure to get the correct data. However, the loss of equipment will also cost time since professionals may not be able to deliver projects or take on new ones for a while. Thus, provisional measures to avoid damage or theft should be taken first to protect their work.
Useful tools for digital nomads
Professionals who become digital nomads, in reality, become their own employers. They regulate their work, their lives, and their adventures. Digital nomads are not just in need of a laptop, a steady internet connection, and a backpack to travel the world. They need digital help to increase their chances of achieving their business goals, monitor their finances, and boost their productivity. However, none of the above are feasible without the contribution of indispensable technological tools.
This section will look at software types that assist professionals in adopting the digital nomad lifestyle and managing their businesses.
Invoicing and billing software
The most helpful tool that a digital nomad will ever need has to do with getting paid. By using online invoicing and billing software, professionals can create and send estimates/invoices to clients. They can also set payment reminders and monitor client balances, sales reports, and detailed sales accounts. The above features help digital nomads with the proper financial management of their projects.
Time and project management
For the digital nomads that charge by the hour, knowing how many hours are needed to complete a project is vital. This way, professionals will be sure that clients will pay them for the exact amount of work they have done. On the flip side, even if a digital nomad is paid based on a different payment method, it is always valuable to know how much time has been spent on a project to fine-tune their pay rates.
Time tracking is closely linked to business financial control. Tracking the hours spent on each project will secure accurate payments. To have actual profit, digital nomads should also record and add project expenses to the final invoices while calculating personal labor costs to assess if current hourly rates are profitable. A digital nomad feels financial safety when using software to monitor time and tasks. This sensation is necessary to keep evolving professionally when someone is moving. Simultaneously, project control through time monitoring can show if a professional is productive and practices proper time allocation.
Moreover, many project management tools focus on planning/scheduling, resource management, and collaboration. So, by knowing what kind of help they need, digital nomads can opt for additional tools that can bring value to their businesses.
Communication and video meetings
A laptop or phone screen is not just a working tool but a window to the world. Therefore, instant messaging (Slack, Mattermost) and video call tools (Skype, Zoom) are necessary for any digital nomad. Through them, professionals can communicate with fellow freelancers and clients. Calls and video meetings should familiarize the client’s needs and project requirements. Emailing is valuable and necessary, but lengthy emails take time to respond to. A call or video chat will always be a quicker way to address imminent issues and give brief updates on how projects progress.
Digital nomads should manage their contracts from drafting until final signatures. Digitally forming and sending them to clients saves valuable time and increases integrity. The use of contract management software will streamline the generation of a contract, its reviews, and the signing process. This way, professionals avoid getting into multiple/long contract cycles and prevent problematic client relations. Then, after the document has been signed, the professional can store it securely online. Some notable software examples are DocuSign, PandaDoc, and ContractWorks.
Subscriptions, accounts, and software have an important common trait. Most, if all, of them, ask for a password to grant access to their users. A password management tool brings an extra layer of online security and helps freelancers handle their passwords effectively. Storing usernames and passwords streamlines the sign-in process. Simultaneously, this kind of tool (1Password, Dashlane, LastPass) offers the option to generate complex passwords for extra protection. Then, digital nomads who want immediate access to their accounts on the go have a master “key” to access their encrypted password vault from any device.
Social media moderation
Freelancers need to be on top of their social media presence. Social media tools for moderation and content creation can assist professionals in managing their various online platforms. Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer come packed with a group of functions. For example, they help users create, moderate and schedule posts and engage with incoming content. Reporting is also an essential feature since it offers a wide range of information and stats regarding social media pages' performance.
Keeping notes, writing down their thoughts, and reminding themselves of things are crucial to digital nomads. Regardless of the nature of their profession, people need to document ideas and plans on their phones while being on the road. Thus, a notes app, like Evernote and Simplenote, can function as a trusted companion keeping their notes safe and available across devices.
Online storage services
A laptop is not the best place to store important documents. It is better not to burden devices with heavy files. The best way to deal with the increasing amount of project files and photos from various destinations is to buy space online. Using apps like Google Drive or Dropbox is a strategic move since digital nomads will protect hours of work and life memories, all in one place. The material will remain accessible but safe from laptop breakdown or storage drive problems.
This last tool is not strictly business-related. A language gap can cause a communication gap, and, of course, nobody wants that. Still, it may be one of the most crucial when moving to countries where residents do not speak English. Therefore, digital nomads should be able to translate other people’s words or writings when coming into contact with foreign languages. This way, they will communicate as best as possible and even create bonds with locals. Moreover, if a digital nomad collaborates with local freelancers or companies, a translation app like Google Translate, iTranslate, or TripLingo can support the conversation.
The taxation chronicles
The truth is that digital nomadism is a relatively new business/life trend. The mid to late 2010s brought to light the increasing number of professionals who chose to roam worldwide. Hence, a concrete international set of tax laws for digital nomads does not exist. Fines can be imposed if they do not comply with the existing taxation laws or pay taxes somewhere. Therefore, specific parameters still define a digital nomad’s identity and business ventures. So, let us take a closer look at what things affect a professional’s tax responsibilities as a citizen of this world.
Tax residency still counts
The concept of the world resident is still newly born and thus non-existent for tax authorities. International laws have not been adjusted to include people who choose to work and travel while making their temporary home wherever they go.
So, even though digital nomads travel regularly, they need to have a tax or fiscal residency. To be considered one, a person must spend at least 183 days (around six months) living and working in a country. Someone is a country’s resident when they spend most of their year in that specific country and work and consequently pay taxes. Being a tax resident also means that a person complies with the privileges and responsibilities that the respective government regulates. Some countries set more rights and fewer duties (or vice versa).
Different countries equal different tax laws for digital nomads
Most countries follow similar ways of taxing their residents. But of course, there are differences per country, continent, and income level. That is why countries tax less, tax more, tax their citizens and their residents, or tax only domestic business ventures. Naturally, there is no one international tax law or tax percentage for which businesses are charged. Therefore, digital nomads must study these taxes before selecting a country to live in, depending on their taxation laws.
High tax rates vs. low tax rates for digital nomads
Few countries like Oman, Bahrain, and the Cayman Islands choose to impose 0% taxation on their residents. At the same time, states like Aruba (52%), Sweden (32.34%), Denmark (35%), and Austria (42%) have the highest rates of income tax. At least 15 more countries from Europe, Africa, and Asia follow with percentages between 45%-54% tax rate. Therefore, think twice if your company or freelance endeavors lead you to one of these countries.
Digital nomadism, as a trend, is constantly growing, and a lot of countries are trying to become more attractive to digital nomads. For example, digital nomads who decide to relocate to Greece can pay 50% less on their income tax and social security fees for the first seven years, thanks to legislation passed in the Greek Parliament in 2021.
As you can understand, before you make any relocation decisions, you should research or ask your accountant to ensure that you have made the right choice. And for sure, your expected income must be particularly worthwhile since tax authorities could ask for a considerable amount of your earnings.
Digital Nomads and the curious case of the expatriation tax
Most countries fall under the category of taxing their residents and not their citizens. So, if you are both a citizen and a resident of a country, there is no way to escape taxation. Surprisingly, there is an Expatriation tax. In this case, governments choose to tax their citizens, which means they will also be taxed by their country of origin wherever they travel and work. Of course, this law is criticized by many. In its complete form, it is applied in two countries, the USA and Eritrea. However, some exit or departure taxes with specific financial and residency criteria exist in countries like Canada and Spain.
The Territorial tax system and its benefits for digital nomads
Conversely, the digital nomads originating from countries with a territorial tax system are in great luck. This tax asks professionals to pay taxes on the income made only within the geographical limits of their country of residence. Of course, this helps the people who work remotely or pick up projects abroad since they only have to declare the acquired income where they live and leave out any other work they have taken on internationally. Costa Rica, Malaysia, Panama, and Hong Kong are some countries to keep in mind while planning to move to foreign lands.
The need for an Expat tax law ninja for digital nomads
Freelancers, solopreneurs, capitalists on the move, and small businesses need an all-knowing tax advisor. Digital nomads do not necessarily have enough knowledge of international tax law or time to learn everything about it. They also do not want to lose money if fined for miscalculation or tax evasion. It is cheaper to get a knowledgeable accountant than to get fined for not fulfilling the necessary tax duties.
Top hubs for digital nomads
It should not come as a surprise that digital nomads seek places that are budget-friendly, interesting to live in, and full of like-minded people. Mostly, they look for cheap accommodation, food, and utilities. At the same time, they seek co-working spaces and a local nomad community to fit in.
Most of the cities to be discussed below are part of developing countries. Developing countries are cheaper than developed ones. That is also why digital nomads can live on a tight budget there. However, they come with a series of issues that professionals should consider, like hygiene conditions, crime rates, and sociopolitical contexts. Choose your hubs wisely and do not focus only on the inexpensiveness of a city or the culture it has to show. So, let us divide the world into continents and find the most popular destinations for the modern-day nomads.
Digital Nomad hubs in Asia
Not to exaggerate, Asia is the ultimate heaven for digital nomads since it offers multiple ideal destinations suggested by people who have traveled and freelanced internationally for years. The golden triptych that Asian hubs offer is cheap living costs, a good safety level, and a stable internet connection. Of course, we should not forget the beautiful natural habitats, the warm weather, and the abundance of cultures. Famous finalists for most digital nomads are the countries of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
Thailand’s most visited nomadic hubs are the islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Chang, along with the city of Chiang Mai. In turn, Indonesia takes pride in the most popular place for freelancers, namely Bali. This island is not only considerably famous, having many co-working spaces to date, but it also houses one of the most successful co-working spaces in the world, according to Forbes, the Hubud in the city of Ubud.
The Malaysian island of Penang is also a usual nomadic choice with several co-working spaces. Last, Vietnam’s Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City, and the capital Hoi An have started forming their small but increasing digital nomad community.
Digital Nomad hubs in Europe
Europe may house a few of the most expensive cities globally, but digital nomads manage to find a way around them. Capitals and big cities are out of the question. However, it appears that most freelancers choose to operate from countries in the Baltic and Balkan regions. Of course, with a few exceptions. Portugal’s Lisbon, Lagos, and Braga pose a Mediterranean option to the modern digital nomad. They have cheap accommodation choices and beautiful surroundings, and Lisbon’s co-working spaces can fit everyone’s taste.
The Balkan peninsula offers places on the top 10 lists for digital nomads. They have low living costs, high-speed Wi-Fi, work-friendly spaces, and exciting things to do. On top of that, the growing city of Budapest in Hungary is one of the most popular places. Some other cities and towns suitable for nomads are Slovenia’s Ljibiana, Bulgaria’s Plovdiv, and Montenegro’s Kotor. The countries of the Baltic Sea are also popular choices amongst digital nomads. Tallinn, the Estonian capital, has been praised as one of the best cities to live in as a world traveler. The city has dived into the emerging culture, offering various co-working spaces and a relatively strong digital nomad community. Other places to consider are Krakow and Poznan in Poland.
Digital Nomad hubs in South America
Cities in South American countries also get a share of the digital nomad movement. Generally, the rumors are that cities like Cusco in Peru, Bogota in Colombia, and Santiago in Chile are safer but still have neighborhoods that are considered dangerous to live in or even move around. Other places that digital nomads seem to prefer are the cities of Medellin, Cali, and Bucaramanga in Colombia, Cordoba in Argentina, Quito, and Cuenca in Ecuador.
Digital Nomad hubs in North America
Choosing to be a digital nomad in this continent means that someone is into bigger crowds, appreciates the mainstream, and has a bigger budget to fall back on. Paying higher rents and spending more money on food and entertainment make a living in North America ideal for professionals on the more luxurious side of the nomadic spectrum. If you are interested in freelancing there, be sure to research the cities of Austin and Portland in the US and Vancouver and Ottawa in Canada.
For low-budget professionals, there are other less-known options. Consider moving to Jaco in Costa Rica, Panama City in Panama, San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua, and Ambergris Caye in Belize. These choices are closer to the typical places a digital nomad would pick; thus, they are gradually getting more attention.
Digital Nomad hubs in Africa
This continent encompasses various destinations suitable for digital nomads due to the rise of technology and abundant business opportunities on the horizon. Therefore, if you have already lived in Asia and South America or care about something less popular, try to imagine yourself in an African city.
Uganda’s Kampala, Senegal’s Dakar, Nigeria’s Lagos, and Kenya’s Nairobi are big modern cities that have attracted a significant share of the nomadic pie with their co-working spaces and affordable living.
Morocco is particularly popular with cities like Marrakesh and Taghazout, with the latter being described as the perfect hub for digital nomads. With its well-known Sundesk and other co-working spaces, Taghazout supports digital nomads with speedy Wi-Fi and various outdoor activities.
South Africa is also a country that keeps rising economically and technologically while being one of the most dangerous cities worldwide. Therefore, it is not an unexpected choice on this list. Cape Town houses many of the best co-working spaces for startups and digital nomads. The internet speed will not cause problems, and the city will cater to your every professional and personal need. A tremendous and bit safer alternative to Cape Town is the city of Johannesburg, with exciting neighborhoods but not the best internet connection, so be sure to find accommodation with working Wi-Fi.
Digital Nomad hubs in Oceania
Australia and New Zealand offer a variety of cities ideal for digital nomads. Of course, places like Sydney and Perth pose as high-end choices. Based on the experiences of digital nomads, Australia’s Melbourne, as well as New Zealand’s Auckland and Christchurch, manage to satisfy the needs of digital nomads concerning living costs, entertainment, safety, and of course, excellent internet connection. Even though Melbourne is an expensive choice, it offers a complete professional and personal experience. If you search hard enough, you can find even more affordable places like Wollongong and Cairns in Australia or Wellington in New Zealand.
The progress of the nomadic lifestyle
The digital nomads' story was created by the increasingly changing social standards and personal choices of the newer generations. Mainly, the Millennials are the ones that lead the digital nomad movement. But did they decide to break the norm, or did the society they were born into pushing them to form this movement? In what ways will a world of commotion affect the culture of digital nomads in the future?
Like a parent, like a child?
Baby boomers are primarily the parenting example to the millennials. However, people may say that baby boomers and millennials could not be more different, but the truth may differ. They both seemed to have similar aspirations in their lives. Baby boomers and millennials are born to be self-employed. They are working hard when they follow their passions.
At the same time, they are ambassadors of life-long learning and believe in contributing to the common good. In particular, millennials, having witnessed their parents failing to change the social and political scenery, aim at changing the world for the better. Baby boomers may have started with aspirations of love, brotherhood, and social equality, but down the road, they committed financial crimes, supported multiple wars, and destroyed the environment. On the contrary, millennials who become digital nomads want to travel the world, learn about cultures, have no part in corporations, protect the environment, and standardize the international citizen’s definition.
Digital Nomads and the creation of a millennial society
Living your life on the fly is an unprecedented way of existing. Therefore, the more people become digital nomads, the more significant the social implications will be. First and foremost, the concept of marriage will alter and lose importance. According to ec.europa.eu, the marriage rate will see an even more significant decline, and the number of divorces will rise in the EU. Simultaneously, there will be an increase in births outside marriage. For example, in 2017, extramarital births were more than the ones that happened inside marriage. People will not stop growing their species; they will not just deviate from the formal road that older generations chose.
At the same time, according to goldmansachs.com, millennials don’t want to have properties and luxury goods since they are supporters of a “sharing economy,” which promotes accessibility over ownership. The lack of traditional stability and formality matches digital nomadism’s independent spirit. Though, this does not mean that millennials will not create families, and they will not assemble even in nomadic communities.
Laws, regulations, and possible future restrictions for digital nomads
Digital nomads are a part of our society that does not fit in any preformed molds. There are no restrictions on their work, their way of living, and income taxation. At least not specially designed for them. So far, strict taxation laws for digital nomads have not been legislated yet. For now, digital nomads have complete accessibility to travel globally. However, the world is getting more unstable politically. So, it is possible that moving between countries and continents will be negatively impacted. If something like this occurs, then digital nomadism may suffer quite a blow.
On the other side, technology does not seem likely to stop advancing. This is a factor that supports digital nomads and their ventures. Places will be faster to reach, things will be easier to make, and digital nomadism may become a popular trend. Thus, people who embrace its philosophy and appreciate the lack of dependency on any business or corporation will likely follow the nomadic path.
The rise of high-end digital nomadism
The end of the 2010s saw a change in perspective for an increasing number of digital nomads. The reasons professionals become digital nomads have sometimes multiplied and even changed. The need for location freedom is still existent, but the factor of luxury has entered the picture for many successful entrepreneurs on the move. Of course, the cosmopolitan backpacking travelers are still around.
The difference is that highly well-paid freelancers demand a place in the Sun, and by Sun, we mean luxurious resorts, premium traveling, and fine dining. Thus, luxury nomads do not practice budget planning. They opt for the most expensive transport and accommodation. They spend considerable money educating themselves, improving their wellness and gathering life-altering experiences. They also tend to live in lush co-working and co-living spaces where many successful startups operate side by side. All the above characteristics describe a different spin-off stream of nomads that demands a new industry of services to accommodate their needs.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
While the number of digital nomads was constantly increasing in the last decade, the COVID-19 crisis was the cherry on top resulting in significant changes in the digital nomads' community. At the beginning of COVID-19, employers were forced to send their employees home to work remotely due to the restrictions set by each country. Gradually people started realizing the benefits of remote working, and some have even decided to resign from their jobs and seek new, totally remote positions. Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Quits Rate, the percentage of people who leave their jobs voluntarily each month, rose from 1.6 in April 2020 to 6.4 in August 2021. That’s the highest figure in the 21-year history of this metric.
According to FlexJobs' 10th Annual Survey (conducted between July and August 2021), the most significant reason that drove traditional workers to leave their office and become remote workers or digital nomads was the opportunity to better work-life balance. While 70% say that working remotely would help improve their mental health.
Some other popular reasons for the “great resignation” are shorter commutes, greater flexibility, and the ability to pursue their passions. According to the 2021 State of Independence research study, in 2020 and 2021, in the US, many people decided to leave large cities, move to rural areas to be closer to their families, or combine travel and work as digital nomads.
Until this point, you must have an idea of the parameters and factors that digital nomads-to-be have to consider. So, it is time you do your soul-searching to see if a digital nomad’s life suits you. If the answer is “Yes,” throw yourself into finding out how to become one. You need to decide what kind of business services you want to offer and work towards achieving everything you could not as an employee. Freelancing around the world comes with responsibilities but with an even greater range of opportunities to grow professionally, experience the world as a global citizen, and build the work-life balance you have always dreamt of.
Thankfully, it seems that the movement of digital nomads is here to stay. Technology created digital nomads, so it will keep pushing it forward into the future. It will keep evolving and changing directions, volume, and purposes. The millions of freelancers, including you, will bring about a shift in the working landscape by offering more flexible solutions to the otherwise static working norms. Your existence will also create a wave of substantial changes for society and the business industry.
To sum up:
Inform yourself as much as possible about the rights, duties, and ways you can make your digital nomadic lifestyle work. Build your inner strength to face your personal and working struggles. Learn all the tax-related laws that apply to you and choose wisely your destinations. Pick up wisely the resources (hardware and software) required for your profession.
All your hard work will lead to a prosperous professional career and a life full of experiences.
As Earl Nightingale said, “All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.”