ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Business and Employment»
  • Employment & Jobs

Digital Nomads - Insight Into A Growing Profession

Updated on January 12, 2016

With the arrival of the digital age, more professions are becoming independent of location. In light of this, a new style of working and living has arisen that utilizes the growing freedom many professionals have. People embracing a location independent career call themselves by a number of names, but one of the commonest is the term ‘digital nomad’.

Digital nomads are characterized by a few features:

Location Independent Skill Base

The abilities of digital nomads vary widely, but they are primarily skills that allow them to earn their living from any country via an online platform. Some of the commonest professions adapted to suit the nomadic life include programming, web development, blogging, you tubing, photography, day trading, coaching, writing, course creation and freelancing.

Many simply identify as entrepreneurs, often because they have a number of quite different, but concurrent businesses running alongside one another.

Slow Travel

While many could travel full-time, most people who work on the road elect to travel slowly. This allows digital nomads to settle in one area for awhile and concentrate fully on work before moving on.

This also means they can get to know a city better, and take out time to explore more before moving on. It allows for longer friendships to develop than if they were moving constantly, and even leads to making local connections more successfully.

Multiple Income Streams

Because the online world is such a changing space, it is almost unwise to concentrate on only one source of online income. For people who create niche websites for a living, a mere change in Google’s algorithms can cause a sudden drop in earnings. It is similar with many different online businesses, so it is only sensible to not rely on just one source of income.

Some digital nomads even elect to work on and off at more conventional jobs. This is not as common and considered less-desirable by many as it is considered to restrict freedom, but at the same time it is a viable option to perpetuate this lifestyle.

Some sorts of work that nomads often choose to do include working on cruise ships, or teaching English in countries where it is a second language.

Self-Starting and Resourceful

Because the online world is such a changing space, it is almost unwise to concentrate on only one source of online income. For people who create niche websites for a living, a mere change in Google’s algorithms can cause a sudden drop in earnings. It is similar with many different online businesses, so it is only sensible to not rely on just one source of income.

Some digital nomads even elect to work on and off at more conventional jobs. This is not as common and considered less-desirable by many as it is considered to restrict freedom, but at the same time it is a viable option to perpetuate this lifestyle.

Some sorts of work that nomads often choose to do include working on cruise ships, or teaching English in countries where it is a second language.

Good Networkers

A lot of the success that digital nomads have can be attributed in part to successfully networking with other nomads. A lot of lessons can be learned vicariously from other nomads’ experiences. Networking can be the best way to make friends, discover tips on living in local areas, and even be hired to work with other nomads on their projects.

Many nomads are able to expand their freelance businesses simply by spreading the word among other location independent workers who might be in need of their expertise.

Do You Know Anyone Who Is A Digital Nomad?

See results

Downsides Of The Digital Nomad Lifestyle

Lifestyle is the key word here. Being a digital nomad is not just a job, it is a way of life. People who live this way create their life around their businesses and their location is often influenced by their work and their income. The social group they are able to have is determined by other people they meet on the road, the hours they work and sleep are determined by the habits of their customer base and the amount of hours they work can be far more than the average person.

A Lot Of Responsibility

While some nomads are able to work for employers that are happy to have them absent from the office, most digital nomads have their own businesses or freelance.

This means that for most, the amount of work they do can fluctuate widely. There is little certainty surrounding income - especially in the early days - and so people who work this way find themselves not only hustling for work, handling their own insurance and visa and travel plans, as well as having to be accountable for their hours, they also don’t get any sick pay, income security or a number of other things that most people who work for an employer take for granted.

A Different Social Dynamic

Working on the road can be difficult. It can involve log hours of isolation. A lot of location independent workers choose, therefore, to work in shared working spaces, or ‘co-working spaces’. Other nomads frequent popular cafes with WiFi that are suitable for working in.

This helps, somewhat to prevent social isolation, and to allow for networking to occur more organically.

Despite all this, location independent workers are always moving from place to place. Even if they embrace slow travel, they will rarely have the same group of friends for more than 3 - 6 months - as that is the average time for which nomads can usually get visas in various countries.

A digital nomads social group is very fluid, and while this has it’s advantages it also can have it’s drawbacks, as it discourages longevity in connections.

Maintaining Relationships

For the reasons mentioned above, maintaining romantic relationships becomes more difficult. Most digital nomads are highly independent and their businesses, and work they do online can be extremely all-encompassing. While people may desire to stay on at certain location and pursue a relationship, factors inherent to the lifestyle can mean this is not possible.

As such, more often than not, romantic relationships started on the road are undone before they are even begun. Many nomads have a default attitude that any liaison begun is necessarily temporary.

This combines with other factors to make digital nomads even less stable. Indeed, as a whole the nomadic life is inherently unstable - at times, to a fault.

Loss of Connection With Family

Many nomads find themselves on the road for years at a time before returning to their home country and meeting their family and their old social circle again. Many nomads have expressed how much like a fish out of water they feel when they do. Few people ‘back home’ understand the appeal of their lifestyle and nomads often find they have little in common with the people they used to hold nearest and dearest. This results in digital nomads not really feeling at home anywhere, rather than feeling at home everywhere - which is the ideal, and still possible, scenario.

Work-Life Balance

Traveling in exotic places can have its own drawbacks. While at times location independent workers can find themselves working too much, it can also have the opposite effect. Digital nomads often travel in tropical locations, and as many of these are popular tourists spots, the vibe of these locations lends themselves to late nights and lying on the beach.

While this is part of the appeal of the lifestyle, it can also be difficult not over-indulge and let work go by the way-side. After all, everyone else is often in party mode; it can be hard not to join in.

Benefits of The Digital Nomad Lifestyle

In saying all this, there are clear benefits to living and working this way - hence why so many people are attempting to make this lifestyle work.

Freedom

Once a digital nomad has worked out how to sustainably earn a living, it makes everything else much easier. They can gain even more freedom to work where they like, take time off when they feel like it, travel where they want, and they can pursue more hobbies and interests with greater ease than the average person.

The are able to have a single business or start a number of businesses that they are passionate about as time allows.

They can live in tropical locations around the world, as most nomads do. At the same time they are equally free to work in cold climates if they choose.

If they are needed back in their home country by a sick family member, they can take off time to go and help them out. Equally, if they are interested in volunteering work in countries they visit, they have time to pursue that as the are able to schedule their work around it.

Making Use of Cheaper Economies

Aside from the tropical weather a lot of digital nomads choose warm climates to live in because they just happen to be among the cheapest places in the world to live. Most commonly these include most parts of Asia and South America.

If a digital nomad is able to earn a similar salary to that which he or she could expect to earn at a standard job in their home country they can save a lot more of this money as their living accommodations and various expenses can be kept so low.

On the same note, if they want to location independent workers can spend the same amount that they would ‘back home’ but instead of spending it on necessities, can have a higher standard of living and do more interesting things.

The amount of money it would take to have a modest apartment in a large Western city will often be more than enough to pay for a flash apartment in a cheaper economy, often including a maid service, great views and other add-ons like swimming pools and gym access included.

Food and transportation is also a lot cheaper and most nomads, choose to eat-out most meals, as it is affordable to do so.

Variety

What else anyone can say about this lifestyle, it isn’t boring.It is one of the most dynamic lifestyles a person can choose to live. Digital nomads change their countries, friends and activities with a speed that would leave most people breathless.

It is a life of new sights, sounds, cuisines and opportunities at every turn. Location independent workers can choose to work in a different cafe everyday, eat at a different restaurant for every meal and find themselves with an endless amount of new and novel activities to do every weekend.

If it ever starts to get boring, they are able to just move onto the next location and the cycle begins again.

The Future of Digital Nomadism

Digital nomads are a new breed of workers that are going to increase as time continues. More people are coming to recognize the possibilities of this way of living and working, and it will continue to gain momentum for some time to come, perhaps eventually changing the way we perceive our options to earn a living once and for all.

At the same time, this life is not for everyone, but it can definitely be said that most people can benefit from earning at least some of their income in the online space. It also shows a lot of potential for people who desire to retire early from their conventional careers, as it allows for more flexibility in earning and provides earning opportunities that are largely age-independent.

Some Final Thoughts From A Pioneer Digital Nomad...

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 17 months ago from USA

      I like the concept, especially for a person without dependents.

    • Rota profile image
      Author

      Rota 17 months ago

      It's ideal for that, however, there are an increasing number of sizeable families who live this life style - two parents and a few children - showing it can work for even people with a family. I really admire those people in particular. Thanks for the comment

    Click to Rate This Article