What Is Digital Nomading and Why Do People Love (or Hate) It?

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This is chapter 1 of an 18-part series about digital nomading and location independence. To see all of the other chapters, click here!

I’m excited to share everything that I’ve learned from the last 4+ years of running internet businesses and traveling the world.

This experience has changed the way I view myself, the world, and my life goals. It will likely do the same for you as you embark on your own journey!

Freedom is the simplest gateway to happiness, and I hope this guide will help you increase the level of freedom and happiness in your life.

Feel free to reach out with questions about anything, or ideas on how to improve this guide. And if you want to learn more about my story, you can read here!

Now, on to the guide! People use the term “digital nomad” to describe two types of people:

  • People who work online while living a nomadic lifestyle
    • Nomad: An individual without a permanent home who travels from place to place.
  • People who work online and are location independent
    • Location Independent: An individual who is not tied to any one location and is free to live and work from anywhere.
    • All digital nomads are location independent but not all location independent people are nomadic.

Curious about who the first digital nomad was? Check out this digital nomad timeline and read about the lifestyle’s history.

The Top Five Reasons Why People Love Digital Nomading:

  1. Travel
    1. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t enjoy traveling, and nomads travel much more than your average human.
    2. Want to live in Europe? Do it. Want to try sushi in Japan? Go for it.
    3. 76% of Americans want to travel more than they currently do, 85% want to experience new things, and 60% have a list of places they want to see before they die (source). As a digital nomad, travel transitions from a vacation into a lifestyle.
  2. Freedom
    1. If you’re able to live and work from anywhere with WiFi, the level of freedom in your life will skyrocket.
    2. Working remotely means you’ll have much more flexibility than traditional office work because remote companies tend to value output over face time.
    3. Plus, by living outside of your home society, you’ll learn to better understand people, the world at large, and yourself.
  3. Adventure
    1. Traveling is one of the most straightforward ways to increase the amount of adventure in your life.
    2. Nomading will expose you to new people, cultures, foods, and experiences. Without any extra effort, you will repeatedly step out of your comfort zone, even when doing simple things like buying groceries.
  4. Work-Life Balance
    1. A core premise of remote work is that both productivity and quality of life increase when people can work when and where they want.
  5. Cheap Living
    1. Until you experience it firsthand, it’s hard to picture how phenomenal life can be in an exotic country on a budget of $1k-1.5k per month.
    2. There are reasons many people never return from popular nomad places such as Bali, Chiang Mai, and Medellin: the cost and quality of living are hard to beat
    3. Here is a list of the cheapest places to live as a digital nomad from NomadList.

Top Three Reasons Why People Don’t Love Nomading:

  1. Isolation and Loneliness
    1. This seems to be the number one reason people stop nomading. If you’re wandering from place to place, it’s harder to build deep relationships.
      1. Nomads who crave community counter this by traveling slower or joining a travel program like Remote Year.
  2. Not As Glamorous As It Looks On Instagram
    1. If you look at #digitalnomad on Instagram, you might think most digital nomads are sipping coconuts on the beach all day—this isn’t true.
    2. Don’t let travel influencers fool you by glorifying the lifestyle to build larger followings.
    3. It’s not far-fetched to create enough passive income to retire on a beach somewhere, but the vast majority of nomads are not living a four-hour work week lifestyle.
    4. Yes, you can live in cool places and increase your quality of life. But most nomads (including myself) spend significant time sitting in front of their computers like everyone else.
  3. Won’t Necessarily Solve Your Problems
    1. You shouldn’t view nomading as the magic pill to fix your life—it will change your surroundings, which will shift your perspective on life. While some of your problems may be fixed, you’ll start to encounter new ones.
    2. One of the fastest routes to personal development is through long-term travel. If you’ve ever gone through a life-changing event, it’s not an easy journey. Being a digital nomad will test you in ways you’ve never experienced.

Now, if you’re ready to get inspired to become a digital nomad, watch one of my favorite travel videos!

Keep Reading: Click here to read Chapter 2: How to Make Money From Anywhere.

I've been building digital businesses, wandering the world, and writing about optimizing life for freedom since early 2017. My mission is to lower the barrier for people who want to live with more freedom: whether that be as an entrepreneur, a digital nomad, an early retiree, or just as someone who wants to live a happiness-driven life.