Trend Watch: Digital Nomads - Working Remotely Where Others Vacation
Digital nomads are livingn the dream of not having to sit in an office. They combine exciting travel with their jobs, which they execute remotely while on the road. More on what the trend is about.
March 6, 2023
The sun slowly sinks into the sea, and another normal day at work comes to an end. Others may be sitting in an office in gray Europe - digital nomads have discovered the most beautiful corners of the world for themselves and work where others only go on vacation.
Traveling without reading is unimaginable for Finnish content creator Joose Kujala © @travelinghawks
Life in paradise
From the outside, the lifestyle of digital nomads looks like a life in paradise. They seamlessly combine work with leisure, everyday life with adventure. Their motto: flip-flops instead of a suit. As long as you have a laptop and the wifi is fast enough, everything runs by itself. But is this way of life really sustainable?
"There are hardly any digital nomads who work from the beach," says Daniel Schöberl, who fulfilled his dream in 2016 and spent four years on the road as a digital nomad. What he wrote on his blog: "The sunlight makes your screen reflect, you sweat like a pig, and the sand isn't exactly pleasant for your technology." Okay, that settles at least one cliché; but it still begs the question: what's the deal with this trend, and what are the best destinations to live as a digital nomad?
Very few digital nomads work directly on the beach - rather in cafés or in co-working spaces © @travelinghawks
The time to start your digital nomadism is currently better than ever: The pandemic that we survived has not only boosted our wanderlust, but also changed the way we work. Working remotely has become the new normal in various areas, and many would like to retain this freedom rather than return to the office. After all, conferences are also possible via Zoom, so why not move one's center of life and work to another country?
A power couple to be reckoned with: Marie Fe and Jake Snow © @mariefeandjakesnow
Preparation is everything
Before the big adventure starts, however, there are some rather boring questions to be answered: Where do I pay my taxes? What about the pension fund so that I don't miss any years of work? And most importantly, which international health insurance should I take out so that I am well covered in case of an emergency? Another inevitable truth: As a digital nomad, you're not always on vacation. To be successful, you need more discipline than at home.
Lucas Fröhlingsdorf has been on the road in a converted VW bus since 2019, exploring the world © @lucafroehlingsdorf
Once the basic questions have been clarified, the next step is to decide on a specific destination. Countries with manageable living costs and as many sunny days as possible are in demand; Southeast Asia, South America, but also Portugal, for example, are ideal for this. In any case, Europe should not be completely left off the radar. After all, it can be tedious to live in a different time zone and only be able to respond to e-mails hours later or to have to hold zoom meetings in the middle of the night.
Luxury is also trending with digital nomads. No longer are cheap hostels that look like something from a school trip and improvised co-working spaces that were quickly cobbled together, the only running grounds for them. Digital nomads can now be found in all income brackets, so the range of options has also expanded.
Entrepreneur & investor Sorelle Amore has been showing how to achieve ultimate freedom as a digital nomad on YouTube since 2016 © @sorelleamore
Top destinations that have already geared their infrastructure towards digital nomads are Chiang Mai in Thailand, Hanoi in Vietnam, the fishing village of Dickwella in Sri Lanka, Ubud in Bali, Medellín in Colombia; that means there are co-working spaces and a community where you can quickly connect if you want to. Meanwhile, there are also many online guides for these destinations to get tips. Thailand and Bali in particular have the most beautiful beaches and good food - so there's nothing standing in the way of an ideal work-life balance.
Reading Tip: The best places for digital nomads
This article appeared in the Falstaff TRAVEL issue Winter 2022/23.