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What is a digital nomad?

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Digital Nomad
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magine yourself relaxing on a remote beach in Thailand with the golden grains of sand gently massaging your toes, sun rays illuminating your skin, sipping on sugar glazed Mojito as the sun rises. Imagine that instead of a fast-paced office, your workplace is this heavenly beach under the sun.

If this sounds like your ideal career then you can join a worldwide community of people called “digital nomads” for whom this isn’t an afternoon daydream but reality, one that offers unparalleled standards of living, but also comes with its own challenges.

Technology & Work

Our generation saw the worldwide adoption of the Internet in less than 25 years and the smartphones are now considered essential tools for living, yet this wasn’t the case even just a decade ago! Wireless and mobile networks are now ubiquitous and rarely can we find a place with no connectivity even if we try hard.

Work and what it means to people has also changed significantly. Nowadays, graduates seek a higher meaning to their work and are more inclined to accept a lower paid job that offers the opportunity to be creative and flexible. Often considered obnoxious and impatient, most of today’s graduates don’t put their dreams on hold until their retirement like their parents and grandparents did. They are far more likely to take the leap if it offers additional often non-material rewards.

The Digital Nomad Lifestyle

A true digital nomad is a rare breed. Normally associated with the stereotypical image of a millennial graphic designer backpacking in Asia, this perception cannot be further from the truth. People of all ages and career, even families can now choose to become digital nomads, living and working in new country every three months if they so wish.

There is more beneath the surface of what motivates people to choose this lifestyle.

The urge to travel and get exposed to different cultures are main fundamental drivers of digitally-enabled professionals who decide to embark on this type of journey. Freedom to work flexible times or own a digital business is also very important for digital nomads, but if we have to sum all these into one, it will probably be the enhanced human experience.

Digital nomads rarely seek out luxury but rather value for money and being able to afford scuba diving, surfing, extreme sports and finest dishes at low cost prices certainly makes life more enjoyable.

The Entrepreneur Mindset

In terms of cash flow, there are various options to earn an income while living the life abroad and digital nomads generally fall into two categories – freelancers and online entrepreneurs.

Freelancers sell their skills in graphic design, development or digital marketing consulting using popular freelance websites such as Upwork.com and Freelancer.com to connect with potential clients. Mind you, it is usually more established professionals who already have a pipeline of projects that take the leap the easiest.

There are plenty of online resources such as Udemy.com and Coursera.com for beginner freelancers that offer free professional courses and practical advice on how to build an online portfolio and get certification for free in order to prepare yourself for a digital nomad lifestyle.

On the other side, we have the online entrepreneurs who all swear by the de facto bible – Tim Ferris’s bestseller “The 4 Hour Workweek”. Author, entrepreneur and pioneering digital nomad Ferris explains the ins and outs of setting up a fully digital business whose operations can be fully digitalised and run with minimal effort. Drop shipping businesses and online informational products are just example business models.

Preparing a solid financial income stream prior to moving abroad saves hassle and cash flow problems when travelling abroad and also keeps you safe in an unknown environment.

Coworking Spaces

The final step to adopting a digital nomad lifestyle is choosing a set of locations and planning travel arrangements. Whilst affordability and quality of living are important, most digital nomads also place even higher importance on finding work places with established office infrastructure, stable Internet connection being key to their digital operations.

This requirement unleashed a new wave of local businesses called “coworking” spaces where freelancers and digital nomads can rent a desk at an affordable monthly fee and not worry about additional business expenses such as cleaning, printing and Wi-Fi. Digital nomads also choose coworking spaces based on its existing community which is key for any coworking space to cultivate, stimulate and nurture.

At the moment of writing, according to the Global Coworking Map which is an interactive online tool for tracking co-working spaces, there are a total of 1223 coworking spaces across 93 countries and 687 cities around the globe.

The global digital nomad community is growing and should you want to experience this lifestyle first hand, luckily there are already a vast amount of resources, forums, blogs and vlogs that can help you get started.


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