Thanks to the spread of broadband infrastructure, a new kind of work lifestyle has been made possible. In the 21st century, we don’t need to turn up at a fixed workplace, and we can work from just about anywhere in the world. As such, we’re able to operate as ‘location independent’ employees and freelancers. Or, to give it the more common title, as ‘digital nomads’.
If you’re contemplating a life as a digital nomad, it’s worth first thinking about what this lifestyle entails, and whether it’s a good fit for you.
What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is an online worker who is able to travel from place to place, rather than having a fixed home address. For example, you might backpack around Australia, submitting journalistic assignments from your WiFi-enabled accommodation every evening (ideally with the help of a VPN). It’s a choice that’s popular among gap-year travellers, but it also applies to workers who stay in one place for longer periods. If you’re spending a month in Spain, a month in Portugal, and a month in France before coming back to the UK, then you qualify as a digital nomad.
Pros and Cons
Why might anyone choose this lifestyle, and why might we hesitate before doing so?
If you’re working from a laptop, then you can save on fixed accommodation costs by moving to an area where those costs are low. You’ll leave behind the noxious politics of the office, and expose yourself to new cultures and ways of thinking. You’ll have the freedom to set your own schedule, both on a daily basis, and in the longer term. If you decide that you’re tired of a particular place, then you can move to the next area without it interfering with your professional life.
On the other hand, it takes a certain mindset to remain productive when you’re constantly moving. You might find that you’re often distracted and exhausted by the process of moving from one place to another. The process can be simplified with the help of a good immigration lawyer.
You might find that life is just a little bit chaotic, and lonely. If you can’t put down roots, then you might not be able to grow quite as effectively.
Key steps to becoming a digital nomad
If you can find your way into a career where you’re doing all of your work online, then it’s just a short step to doing that same work while you’re on the move. If you’re doing digital work, like writing, coding or graphic design, then you might find it easy to adapt. You’ll also need to be comfortable with the mechanics of travel, and have the ability to ease yourself into this form of work. You might scale back your hours as you begin travelling. This would be so you can get used to things without the weight of too much responsibility.