A digital nomad is one who works online (or using any form of telecommunications, but let’s face it most of us use email these days. What’s a phone call?) and is location independent. That is, they have the freedom to choose both their working hours and location. It’s pretty similar to freelancing and being self-employed, the only difference is that now the world has opened up with fast internet speeds and cheap transport costs.

When we arrived in Chiang Mai we found that the city had changed quite a bit since the last time we had visited in 2010. There is a huge expat population, almost every food and drink establishment has WiFi, and there are co-working spaces and coffee shops everywhere. Condos are popping up all over the place offering monthly rentals for as little as £70 a month.

It’s fascinating really.

And not surprising.

Chiang Mai is an incredibly easy city to live in and obviously word has got out. Digital nomads from all over the world have descended onto the city to live the life of earning online whilst enjoying Northern Thailand.

What Is A Digital Nomad

What is a digital nomad? Really?

Digital nomads come from all kinds of industries. There are programmers, web developers, graphic artists, web designers, e-commerce entrepreneurs, writers, digital marketeers, life coaches, bloggers, photographers, consultants and more.

These folks are combining their careers with travel. They leverage technology, such as online tools, to carve out a lifestyle that includes working abroad or on the road. They have the freedom of travel and the ability to explore new places, all the while maintaining an income.

These digital nomads are running successful businesses or working for companies all from alternative locations. They are completely location independent. As long as they have an internet connection, the equipment (namely a laptop) and the self-discipline, they are good to go.

Digital Nomads escape the 9-t0-5 office jobs and rat race. They choose to forge their own life and career on their own terms. They choose challenging over easy. They choose freedom over security. They choose flexibility over rigid schedules. They use all the skills they have in creative ways.

But how do they do it?

Each digital nomad has their own story and are forging their own path. But I have spotted some common themes.

Many sell up most of their possessions, car and home.

Some plan their transition in advance by working full-time corporate jobs and saving up months-worth if not years of travel funds first.

Most choose to live or spend a significant amount of time in countries with a lower cost of living (hello lower rents or housesitting!).

They are adaptable and resourceful. They take a look at all the skills they have and maximise their potential work opportunities.

They realise the value of having a strong network.

They understand that they are not on holiday. They have to work but just from a different location.

They are self-starters, with oodles of discipline, drive and organisational skills.

And finally, they have the ability to adapt when necessary.

What else?

Being a digital nomad is not the easy option. There is a degree of uncertainty and challenges. But if you prioritise freedom and forging a personal path in life then being a digital nomad could be a great option.

Does that answer your question?

Is there anything else you’d like to know about being a digital nomad?

Let me know in the comments below!

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8 Responses

  1. Uju @Babesabouttown

    Great post, fascinating to hear about the trends in freelance culture and how this is being facilitated by demand and the spread of digital connectivity worldwide. I love the term ‘digital nomad’ especially, as all creatives are nomads at heart :-) For those of us with kids, taking some of the leaps you outlined in your post brings on additional challenges although I know it can be done. But I’m happy enough at the moment with the freedom to work from home or at cafes around London without being cooped up in an office all day, while trying to balance my working hours around family time. It’s not always an easy juggle, but when it works it’s wonderful and I’m very grateful to be living at a time when what some call the ‘freedom lifestyle’ is so much more accessible to more of us. Would love to visit Thailand some day, enjoy your travels!

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Love the term ‘freedom lifestyle’ – that’s exactly what we’re looking for in designing our lives in an alternative fashion to that dictated by society.

      Reply
  2. Emma T

    Really interesting post, and the term definitely fits well and is growing as the years go by. It must take a certain type of person to work like that, I know even before having a child, it wouldn’t have been something I’d have wanted to do.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      I like that the option is there these days whether you’d prefer to settle in your home country or go out exploring. We are all very lucky indeed.

      Reply
  3. Merlinda

    I am looking for a job and time is always a conflict for me as I am a mother. This is the only solution I think for me. To be a freelancer and better if I can be a nomad. Imagine I can just hang out outside my son’s school and still work???

    I just need that freelancing job!

    #brillblogposts

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Freelancing is a great option if you would like to be the boss of your own time. It is challenging but ultimately more rewarding. Good luck!

      Reply
  4. HonestMum

    Loved this and I agree with Uju, we are all digital nomads really. I love the freedom a blogging career offers, I could up sticks and move anywhere in the world and keep doing what I do (I might have to adapt publish times to meet the needs of my majority readers in the UK) but no doubt other areas of the world would grow. Exciting times for us freelancers. Thanks for linking up, please do add my badge or link back if you can, cheers!

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Absolutely! Blogging has created so many different ways to live and work. We are incredibly lucky to living in a time where we have these options.

      Reply

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