The digital nomad lifestyle combines what so many have started searching for: the love of travel and exploration with the ideal flexible work life.
Before choosing to become a digital nomad it is important to understand the reasons you are drawn to the lifestyle. Knowing why you want to become a digital nomad will help you create the best lifestyle that fits your needs and desires.
Do you want longer vacations? Are you bored with where you live? Do you want to see more of your country or the world in general? Are there friends and family you have been meaning to visit? Has your job or the pandemic burned you out? Do you want to give your kids an unconventional education?
You are not alone if the Covid-19 pandemic inspired you to reimagine your ideal work-life and contemplate the digital nomad lifestyle.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought a wave of unprecedented resignations as workers around the world reevaluated their priorities. Many realized they didn’t want to continue working in unfulfilling careers. Their jobs seemed not only unimportant in the big scheme of things but also empty of purpose. More time at home during quarantines provided time for reflecting that there might be a better path. People had time to explore other interests, scroll through job boards without their coworkers seeing, and structure their days in ways that suited their desired lifestyles.
Here are some of the best reasons to become a digital nomad:
Find new career opportunities.
By working as a remote worker for any company independent of a specific location you will find opportunities unavailable in limited local job markets. As a freelancer, you can choose your own projects and clients while also trying out different niches. There are many ways to make money and support your lifestyle as a digital nomad.
Choose your own work environment.
You can create a work environment where you can be most productive. Perhaps you prefer serene locations with a view of the mountains or beach? Or maybe you work best in quaint coffee shops with endless espressos and a constantly changing urban street view?
Find new inspiration in your work.
New environments and experiences inspire creativity and connections between new ideas. Novelty can spark brainstorming, solutions to problems, and awaken your passion for your career.
Decrease your work-related stress and burnout.
Having something outside of work that inspires or interests you will decrease your burnout at work. Travel and the adventure of the digital nomad lifestyle provide ready-made distractions from work.
Improve your work-life balance.
Choose when and how much you work as a freelancer. Flexible scheduling means you get to choose the hours and days that you work. As a remote employee, you can also arrange with your supervisor to work independently at any time of day.
While your flexibility may be more limited if you have online meetings, you can use time zones to your advantage. If you prefer to have mornings off you could choose to travel in a time zone 5-6 hours ahead of your employer. Or as another example, in New Zealand, you will be one day ahead of and 4 hours behind an employer in California. Your traditional workweek would become Tuesday through Saturday. This would allow you to visit typically busy attractions on a Monday and avoid weekend crowds when locals are at work.
Avoid the distractions and stresses of the traditional office work environment.
Removing yourself from a traditional work environment allows you to avoid office politics. You’ll feel less resentment towards the coworker who takes long lunches or leaves dirty coffee cups in the sink. You’ll save time and experience less stress when you no longer have to sit in traffic during your commute or find a parking spot. You’ll save money on business attire because you can show up to work in a T-shirt (although you may need one nice blouse or shirt and tie for zoom calls).
Learn the secrets to asking your boss to let you go remote and work from anywhere.
Make new professional and personal connections.
Many digital nomads choose to stay in co-living accommodations for their ready-made communities and networks of new friends. Digital nomads often communicate through online groups and forums to share advice and experiences or even to meet up in various cities.
Digital nomad conferences provide another means of connecting with like-minded individuals.
In general, travel exposes you to people you otherwise would have never met. Other ways to make new connections while traveling include attending language classes, going to exercise classes or gyms, participating in hobbies or sports, attending religious services, or volunteering locally.
Tick off your travel bucket list.
The pandemic reminded us that our time on this planet is short. It’s time to start working your way through your dream travel list while you are still physically capable. Get the most out of life because none of us knows how long we have.
Embrace your wanderlust.
The pandemic and lockdowns inflamed wanderlust for many people. Embracing your wanderlust is about more than ticking off a bucket list. It is a hunger for exploration and adventure.
Curate new memories.
Living in one place for a long period of time allows us to fall into comfortable daily patterns. We travel to the same grocery stores, go to the same gyms, and see the same people at work every day.
When daily life is predictable and indistinguishable from any other day it becomes harder to make distinct memories. Time speeds up and suddenly you can’t believe several years have passed. According to Scientific American magazine, new experiences can strengthen old memories and improve recall.
Spend more time with your friends and family.
This may seem counterintuitive since many digital nomads spend long periods of time away from the country in which their family lives. Being a digital nomad is actually an opportunity to visit friends and relatives in various locations.
Begin by making a list of people you have been wanting to visit but never found the time and then choose those places as destinations. Stay with your family or friends or rent a furnished apartment nearby and spend time engaging in meaningful activities with them. You can also give your family and friends reasons to come visit you wherever you are. Rent a house with multiple bedrooms and invite your loved ones to come to stay.
Digital nomad parents with children can travel together as a family. Use the opportunity to introduce your children to the far corners of the world and learn through hands-on life experiences.
Keep your mind engaged.
Travel forces us to interact with others in new languages, find our way in new neighborhoods, navigate new cultural norms, and try new foods. These are all part of the reason so many people choose to travel but you do this on a different scale when you stay for longer than a typical two-week vacation. You have time to steep yourself in new ways of living. Researchers in Germany have shown that variety improves your mental processing speed and working memory.
Work on your personal development.
Depending on where you travel, you may have the opportunity to learn new languages. You can enroll in part-time language schools (also a way to obtain a visa for longer stays) or simply engage in conversations with strangers. It’s easier to learn new languages when you are interacting with native speakers on a daily basis and are immersed in a culture.
Long-term travel will expose you to new sports and hobbies. You’ll improve your navigation skills in getting around on transit systems or simply driving from one place to the next. You will face new challenges you wouldn’t have encountered by living in one place.
Improve your physical health.
In some ways, it is easier to stay physically active while traveling. You may not have a rental car and therefore spend more time exploring cities on foot. Knowing you have limited time in an area encourages you to get out and do the things on your bucket list.
As you travel you’ll eat a greater variety of foods. Non-American diets are often healthier. You can visit farmers’ markets for both the cultural experience and access to fresh fruits and vegetables. You can take local cooking classes to increase your recipe repertoire and learn to use local food varieties.
Working outside of an office will also help you avoid the inevitable winter office viruses, a threat that rises to a whole other level with Covid-19.
Improve your mental health.
Exploration and the excitement of trying something new increase your dopamine levels and changes your mood. Variety improves mental health and will keep you from feeling stuck.
New experiences change your brain chemistry and as Dr. Laurie Santos of Yale University said in an interview with GQ, “there is a connection between novelty and happiness.”
Setting your own work hours, being your own boss, avoiding the commute, and choosing who you spend your work time with will all decrease your work-related stress and contribute to better mental health.
Working remotely can allow you to earn a higher value currency while you stay in locations where your money goes further. You can spend less, save more money for retirement and still have a better quality of life than you would have had in your home country where there is a high cost of living. Many places in the world have lower rent in desirable locations, cheaper and better healthcare, and more economical entertainment options.
Decrease your taxes.
Many countries are offering digital nomad and freelancer visas with major tax incentives to lure these workers and boost local economies. If you plan carefully, you can significantly decrease your tax liability.
Choose your preferred climate.
You can chase the snow or the sun. A nomadic lifestyle allows you to choose the climate where you are happiest and move depending on the seasons and your preferred weather.
Try out early part-time retirement.
Keep working part-time and earning money as you explore the full-time travel lifestyle. See what a retirement filled with traveling would feel like. Do this early in retirement when you have fewer health problems and can handle the activity required.
Enjoy the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle.
Because of the cost and burden of carrying too much luggage around the world, the digital nomad lifestyle encourages minimalism. Many digital nomads learn to live with fewer material possessions and find that when they first start out they take too much with them. The focus changes to accumulating experiences rather than material things.
There are many reasons to choose the digital nomad lifestyle. The choice begins with figuring out what quality of life you want and what dreams you still have left to fulfill. Start your bucket list now and build your new lifestyle around ticking off that list.
Intrigued? Learn more about the pros and cons of the digital nomad lifestyle.