Do you regularly find yourself gazing out of your office window at that same, tired old view, wondering what it might be like to pack up your laptop and venture to pastures new and exotic? Well, over 35 million digital nomads have already done just that, taking advantage of the freedom offered by remote working to live and work in far-flung locations all over the world.
This concept would have been fairly alien to us just a decade ago, but with rapid advancements in technology and a sharper focus on the life/work balance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more workers are reaping the multiple benefits of digital nomadism (either as freelancers or as location-agnostic employees).
In this post, we’ll focus on the advantages of digital nomadism to the nomads themselves, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t also ample benefits for businesses willing to hire overseas. By embracing a recruitment model where location is immaterial, employers gain access to a truly global talent pool, and they can tap into the valuable knowledge of workers based in international markets.
Of course, recruiting an employee from another country isn’t quite that simple (there are country-specific laws and regulations to consider), but an employer of record service (such as the one offered by Remote) will help to smooth out the onboarding process if you’re running a business and willing to give it a shot. It’s partially because of such conveniences, of course, that there are so many opportunities for digital nomads to jump on.
For now, let’s look at the main benefits offered to individuals who decide to adopt the digital nomad lifestyle.
What are the benefits of becoming a digital nomad?
Total flexibility over your work environment
At a time when many of us have been forced to reevaluate our life/work balances, flexibility has become a valued commodity among the workforce. And when you’re not tethered to an office, you theoretically have complete freedom to choose to work anywhere in the world: you could opt for a bustling city with busy coworking spaces, or a laid-back beach vibe might be more your thing. The choice is yours.
If you’re self-employed (maybe even using one of many freelancer-friendly sites like Fiverr to scout for work) or you work for a particularly flexible employer, you’ll have the added benefit of choosing not just where, but when you work. With full flexibility over your schedule, you can pick and choose the hours that suit you. Bliss.
The opportunity to experience new places and cultures
Of course, one of the biggest draws of the nomadic lifestyle is getting to discover new, exotic, culturally-rich places. Depending on where you decide to call home, you can enjoy a vibrant new backdrop, one-of-a-kind sights, and exhilarating cultural experiences, all while continuing to earn a living.
You might opt for Thailand, a long-time mecca for travelers with its idyllic beaches, ancient temples, vibrant night markets, and delicious street food, or even Colombia (specifically the city of Medellin), an increasingly popular destination for digital nomads with a permanent spring-like climate and bustling night spots for trying out your best salsa moves. Before you decide, check out this guide to the best cities for digital nomads.
The chance to meet new and diverse people
While breathtaking scenery or grandiose architecture might have a certain allure, it’s often the people that really give a place its energy. One of the best ways to embrace a new culture as a digital nomad is to get out and about among the locals; it’s also a great way to learn about your temporary new home and experience a side the tourists seldom see.
You can expect a warm welcome from the locals if you choose to relocate to Taiwan, since it tops this list of the friendliest countries, while the Mexicans and the Cost Ricans are also particularly affable companies. It’s wise to be wary in unfamiliar places (being too trusting can sometimes land you in trouble), but creating a good rapport with local folk is essential to the digital nomad experience.
Lower living expenses
Particularly as the cost of living continues to rise, many of those who turn to digital nomadism do so because of the cost savings they can enjoy. Many countries around the world offer dramatically lower living costs when compared to the UK or the US, for example, with accommodation, utilities, and food eminently more affordable if you know where to look.
Vietnam comes out on top (or bottom, depending on how you look at it) when it comes to the cost of living. Its largest city, Ho Chi Minh, is popular with digital nomads, not least because you can get by on under $1,000 a month.
A better quality of life
Early starts, stressful commutes, and long working days take their toll, often leading to a lack of sleep, unshakable fatigue, and an increased risk of getting ill. Even if you’re working remotely from home, the risk of burnout can be amplified by an inability to ‘switch off’ at the end of a working day. It’s one of the reasons many are turning to a nomadic way of working.
As a digital nomad working from a location of your choosing, working hours can be spent in lively cafes or diverse coworking spaces, while during downtime you’re free to discover the tourist hotspots, uncover hidden treasures, or sample culinary delights. If you usually live in a country with lousy weather, a move to a more favorable climate will help, too.
A sense of community
With millions of digital nomads already living and working overseas, cities and countries across the world are home to growing digital nomad communities. And while mingling with the locals is a great way of immersing yourself in a new culture, having a network of fellow travelers and ex-pats to call upon can really help you settle into a new place.
Arriving in a new city for the first time can be daunting, but with services like Meetup, you can start connecting with other digital nomads before you travel. Once you’re there, you can meet with like-minded people, attend (or organize) social events, and even network with potential clients.