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7 Compelling Reasons to Become a Digital Nomad

by Globetrooper Todd | 16 Responses
Digital Nomad

A digital nomad is someone who travels the globe while financially supporting themselves by telecommuting (working from remote locations). It’s certainly not everyone’s ideal lifestyle, but for those with the travel itch, it’s a one-way ticket to early retirement and global citizenship.

But why give up stable employment, reliable income, and childhood friends for the implicit uncertainty of digital vagabonding? Here are 7 reasons why:

1. Experience

Life is all about experience. And travelling the globe while testing comfort zones is clearly more ‘experiential’ than the daily grind of 9-to-5.

With that said, a digital nomad still endures routine (it’s part of producing an income), but it’s a routine enjoyed from different corners of the globe with contrasting cultures, languages and landscapes.

2. Education

It’s easy to trivialise global travel and reduce it to an abstract collection of memories, photos and stories. But the experience that underpins those stories is an unrivalled education.

Not surprisingly, a digital nomad’s education is more than converting currencies, amassing frequent flier points, and bargaining in bazaars; it’s an education in business, communication, and independence.

3. Connections

In large Western cities, networking events have become popular. They involve mingling with people from the same industry, same creed, and usually, the same city.

But a digital nomad makes personal and business connections with a greater variety of people all over the globe. And typically, their connections are more memorable because they’re networking under unusual circumstances.

4. Geo-arbitrage

Geo-arbitrage refers to earning money in one currency (usually USD, EUR, etc.) and spending money in a lower-valued currency. It provides a digital nomad with greater spending power for the same number of working hours.

But rather than work the same hours, digital nomads typically sacrifice some spending power by choosing to work fewer hours. Logically, if your arbitrage provides four times the spending power, you can work a quarter of the hours to maintain the same quality of life.

5. Mini-Retirements

We tend to believe that if we work hard for 40 or so years, we’ll gain the independence and flexibility to one day enjoy freedom of life.

But using geo-arbitrage, a digital nomad can fast-track those notions of retirement to the present. They can setup shop in their dream destination and experience mini-retirements a few times a year, all over the world, for the rest of their life.

6. Opportunity

A digital nomad sees much greater opportunity for two reasons. Firstly, their financially self-sufficiency means they have more time to innovate and interact with people.

Secondly, opportunity increases with exposure. And by virtue of travelling the globe, a digital nomad gains exposure to many more people, markets and industries.

7. The Challenge

If nothing else, becoming a digital nomad is the ultimate challenge. It requires the creation of a successful business, interactions in different languages, and subsistence in cities across the globe. But it’s the fruit from those challenges that really make digital nomadism tempting.

Posted in How-To Guides | April 10th, 2010

16 Responses to 7 Compelling Reasons to Become a Digital Nomad

  1. Being a digital nomad is my ultimate goal. For several of the same reasond that you’ve listed.

    Experience, education and challenge are key to me. One of the quickest ways to change your thoughts is to change your environment. This seems like a good way to keep your business fresh.

    • Thanks for dropping by Nick. Great point about changing environments. I’ve been in Montreal for a couple of months and we’re already starting to get used to it :) Love the title of your last blog post; I’ll check it out now.

  2. A great list Todd, I hope it inspires some people to go ahead and live the life they’ve been dreaming of.

    For me, as a digital nomad & perpetual traveller, the most important aspect is personality and the ability to be a self-starter. There are people who see all the benefits you’ve outlined but don’t do it because they need someone else to guide them or the just fear doing it. It gets clouded in compelling reasons not to travel. See my post ‘Why People Don’t Travel’.

    We need to help them get over their fear and take the plung.

  3. Great article!

    I became a Digital Nomad mid last year. Some people say, ‘you’re lucky’, but I consistently say it’s all about choice. Just like you mention, those of us who choose to digitally work ourselves around the globe have often chosen to give up ‘stable employment, reliable income, and childhood friends for the implicit uncertainty’ of this lifestyle. What I don’t understand when people tell me how lucky I am is that most professions and skills are transferable overseas – whether you’re a teacher, personal assistant, doctor, carpenter or entertainer, you can choose to make the transition and work abroad. All you often need, as Graham mentions, is great courage to overcome any fear of the unknown and the willingness to take the plunge.

    Thanks again for sharing – It’s nice to find a new description of what I do and it’s truly great to see other people out there being global citizens.

    All the best!

  4. Hi Todd,

    Great article – I had my first taste of being a digital nomad when I started travelling 5 months ago. I’ve always worked in an “office” environment, so experimenting with freelancing/working remotely was a whole different experience. It was challenging at first (always needing an internet connection, finding discipline) but working AND travelling at the same time is amazing.

    Love your term “geo-arbitrage,” by the way.

    – Lily

    • Hey Lily, hope all is going well with your travels.

      I heard the term ‘geo-arbitrage’ from Time Ferris, so can’t claim it as my own :)

    • Hey Lily, hope all is going well with your travels.

      I heard the term ‘geo-arbitrage’ from Tim Ferris, so can’t claim it as my own :)

  5. Great summary of my goals in life. I only “nomad” a few times a year now so that my kids can enjoy a stable school and home life, but this is my new plan upon becoming an empty-nester. Why settle for a routine when there is so much to see/hear/taste/explore?

    Keep up the great work!

  6. I think some jobs are easier to be a “nomad” about than others. Is there a place to get an idea of those?

    • Hi Theresa,

      I don’t think so. It’s just a matter of giving it a go and breking new ground, I think.

  7. Hey, I’m a serial “digital nomad” about to undertake my third extended working vacation. This time I’m going to be working remotely with a bit of a twist.

    Rather than just freelance or telecommute work, I’m going to be building a startup company. The cheaper cost of living (and fewer distractions like traffic & TV) will buy me time. I’ll look for local talent and invite others who are interested to come join me.

    When all it costs to create a startup is a laptop, the price of airfare, cloud hosting, and local living expenses, you can go a lot further with fewer distractions.

  8. Good article!

    This is an in-depth case study of how I used geoarbitrage to create a wonderful life in Sarajevo:

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