A digital nomad is someone who simply works online while traveling.
It could be an online English teacher, a tech-head coder, a copywriter, or an Instagram influencer, it really doesn’t matter.
Digital Nomad Statistics
We have written an in-depth article on digital nomad statistics, go check it out to know more about the topic.
Digital Nomad Jobs
Traditional nomad jobs include the likes of photographers and travel bloggers (who blazed a trail back in the nineties and noughties).
But that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Developments in internet speeds mean career coaching, TEFL teaching, business consultancy, property marketing, and more video-interfacing professions can now be done without a fixed office space.
Meanwhile, the global freelancer platform Upwork notes that its biggest growth areas are in sectors as diverse as urban design, how-to video production, CAM-CAD and remote taxation filing.
The Best Cities For Digital Nomads
First, it was Chiang Mai, then it was Canggu, then it was Budapest – where’s next? The phenomenon of the digital nomad city has seen certain locations transform over the last two decades.
They’ve gone from classic urban spaces to metropolises famed among the DN crowd for their international vibe, good internet connections and attractive work-life balance. They’re some of the best places to begin that nomad journey if you’re thinking of diving in…
The ancient Kingdom of Lanna is the hub of northern Thailand. Most consider it to be the original digital nomad city. It’s easy to see why. Chic condos with pools can be had for $400 a month. There are oodles of great cafés with hand-roasted coffee, vegan eats, and workstations. Oh, and weekends can be about partying with other digital nomads, hitting the Chiang Mai night bazaar, or even escaping on a flight to the gold-sand beaches of the Thai islands down south.
Not so much a city as a surf town, Canggu went from remote Balinese getaway to mega digital-nomad hub seemingly overnight sometime in the last decade. These days, it’s awash with hip villas and surf camps, beach bars and co-working hubs. In the morning, nomads can be seen catching the waves in Batu Bolong. By day, they hit buzzy cafés like Nude and Cinta (spots practically designed for laptop warriors!).
Digital nomads with their compasses pointed at Europe now flock to Budapest. Why? Well, Hungary’s capital is cheap, so you get plenty of bang for your buck. It’s also a rising star on the gastronomy and bar scene, famed for its ruin clubs and party hostels (yep, there are lots to do after dark). Come morning, you can soothe the hangover in one of the handsome spas, which harness the healing waters of the natural springs that lurk beneath the city.
What’s not to love about Lisbon? Beaches on the doorstep, surf just up the coast, strong internet, brilliant café culture – there’s pretty much all a DN could want in these parts. It shows, too, because remote workers have embraced the Portuguese capital like one of their own. Platforms like NomadX are hailing it as the new home of the global traveler and worker.
Estonia has long had a reputation for leading the world in tech innovation. It created a mini-revolution for digital nomads when it instituted the e-residency program back in 2014, letting remote workers gain access to banking, company registration rights, and payroll without the need for a permanent address. There’s talk the government is going even further, with a fully-fledged nomad visa in the works for 2020/21. Watch this space. In the meantime, check out that handsome medieval old town and its fairy-tale gatehouses.
Medellin is a living, breathing example of the transformative power of the digital nomad lifestyle. Once the feared home of Pablo Escobar, this Colombian metropolis is now about creative co-working hubs and sleek penthouse apartments that won’t break the bank. It’s been hailed as the “nomad mecca of the Americas”, thanks largely to its affordability and electrifying nightlife scene.
What’s The Digital Nomad Lifestyle?
There’s no hard and fast rule about how you should live as a digital nomad. There are all sorts of ways to go remote. You could even stay at home (digital homad, if you will). So long as you work online and don’t need to be anywhere to complete the nine-to-five grind, you’re in. Of course, most nomads choose to travel…
Most DNs move around monthly, bi-monthly or at least twice a year, but this changes from person to person and place to place.
Platforms like Airbnb have made short-term rentals viable for location-independent types thanks to generous monthly discounts, so there’s nothing stopping you from hitting Lisbon for 30 days, moving to Bangkok for the next 30, and passing on New Zealand for the next.
Some DNs are slow travelers that aim to keep their globetrotting ethical with fewer flights and low-carbon A-to-Bs. Others are adventure nomads who come with the surfboard and the hiking gear in tow but skip cities in favor of Alpine villages and Ecuadorian beach towns. It’s really what you make of it.
Digital Nomad Advantages
Living the digital nomad lifestyle is pretty awesome. Obvious pros: You get to be where you want when you want. You’re your own boss but have the added advantage of being able to flick open the office in a hammock on a Philippine island. But those aren’t the only plus sides. You also get:
- Access to a growing jobs market that prioritizes location-independent work.
- No commutes.
- No office wear (ditch that suit and those pencil skirts, wahoo!).
- To choose your own schedule.
- To choose your own holidays.
- Exciting day-to-day – you can afford to be spontaneous.
Digital Nomad Disadvantages
We’re not going to pretend that the life of a digital nomad is all peaches and cream. It’s most certainly not. This lifestyle, like all big lifestyle changes, brings some downsides to boot. They’re worth bearing in mind if you’ve been on a diet of unreal Instagram shots and only unreal Instagram shots. Just think about it…
- No routine, which can be fun, but also makes it hard to stay motivated.
- You can be isolated and find it difficult to forge long-term friendships.
- It’s tiring traveling ALL the time!
- The same pitfalls as all freelance work – you’ve got to proactively look for projects to keep up the income.