These days, we hear terms like "global citizen", "digital nomad" and "location independent" used more frequently to describe a certain type of individual not tied to a single location but living with the freedom to live and work in the location(s) of his or her choosing, moving from place to place when the mood or circumstances strikes.
What is the allure of this?
Many dream of traveling and seeing the wide world, not just as a tourist or temporary visitor, but on a more intimate level, experiencing the everyday life of a local. This dream is usually saved until retirement, or until a certain level of financial independence can be achieved.
How is location independence possible?
More than anything, technological advances and the growth of what is often called the "sharing economy" has made this much easier. The Internet has also encouraged the spread of information – on destinations as well as practical aspects of this lifestyle and how to achieve it. Now, thousands of apps and websites proliferate to help individuals work, find housing, entertainment and even establish virtual friendships before even setting foot in a new destination.
One can rent or share a home or find couches to "surf" on a short-term basis, saving on the cost of a mortgage or home rental. If they happen to own a house or apartment as a home base, digital nomads are also able to their own homes to work in the same way as a source of profit. Ride, car and bicycle sharing services, along with public transit, make transportation a breeze and reduce the need for ownership and storage of these costly items.
Of course, one still needs to earn a living – even when that living can happen anywhere. Many companies large and small have embraced remote working, so if location isn’t important, why not work from wherever you choose? And when a new destination beckons, it’s easy to jump to the next place. For those who prefer even more freedom and only want to work on a temporary or freelance basis, "gig" websites like Fiverr, Upwork and others are a great repository for all kinds of projects and assignments for all kinds of skill sets – from coding and web design to graphics, video production and copywriting – even administrative support, customer support and accounting! If a temporary office is needed, sites like WeWork rent work space with all types of flexible arrangements to suit a vide variety of needs and budgets.
Laptops, tablets and mobile phones are essential tools, and inexpensive services like Skype enable call forwarding when it is needed. Most mobile carriers will allow established customers to swap SIM cards when they are travelling internationally, and SIM card rentals are another way to stay connected as if at home.
Who is doing it?
What’s most surprising is that people of all ages are living a location independent lifestyle – including many retired or semi-retired individuals. This means that a location independent lifestyle is also increasingly an age-independent lifestyle as well.
What are the risks or drawbacks?
Of course, nothing is perfect, and although it is very appealing there are certainly some potential drawbacks to living a location independent lifestyle. Because one is often on the move, the lifestyle necessitates a limited number of possessions. This could be a boon to many who want to free themselves from materialism, but it can also become difficult to acquire assets and build equity in them.
Also, aside from those fortunate enough to have complete freedom to work remotely for a full-time employer, many digital nomads are limited to certain types of work, often "gigs" or freelance jobs without traditional benefits. This means that health insurance, pension and other benefits of full-time employment will have to be sourced and funded by the individual.
Additionally, working as a continual freelancer may not provide a long-term outlook of stability in finances or employment. A setback like illness or ID theft can cause major headaches and could put the nomadic lifestyle at risk.
It's certainly not for everyone, but if the risks or drawbacks are outweighed by the freedom and experience this lifestyle has to offer, it may be for you. If you’d like to learn more, here are some websites we came across to help get you thinking (and maybe planning):
We hoped that you enjoyed reading today’s blog post! What do you think of the idea of working wherever you like, roaming to new places when the mood strikes you? Drop us a line in the comments below and let us know!