If you thought that working remotely meant that you were relegated to your home office or local coffee shop, think again. Today, telecommuters are taking work-life balance to a whole new level by traveling the world and working at the same time.
They call themselves “digital nomads.”
From the outside, it’s a thrilling way to work. You could have a job with a remote company that allows you to work from anywhere in the world… maybe Peru where you also take a side trip to hike up to Machu Picchu, or from a wifi-enabled beach rental in Bali. It’s all in a day’s work (and life) for digital nomads. With a strong Internet connection, a laptop, and not much more, digital nomads can work from literally every corner of the globe without missing a deadline.
There are many reasons why a virtual worker would pack up his home office and hit the road. For starters, many cite a productivity level that cannot be found working in an office—or even a home office, for that matter. With so many cultural experiences just waiting to be had, digital nomads find that they are hyper productive, because they are being stimulated both emotionally and intellectually in an entirely new way.
Working from anywhere also means making connections that you couldn’t possibly make working from home. These newfound connections can be of the professional kind, but also might simply mean making a new friend in a faraway land.
One of the biggest benefits of being a digital nomad is living expenses—or lack thereof. Many find the cost of living to be a lot cheaper where they live and work, which is significantly less expensive than if they live stateside.
So, who are the digital nomads? Typically, but not exclusively, these really remote workers are in the fields of software/tech, writing/blogging, and healthcare, although virtually any work-from-home job can lend itself to this type of work lifestyle. And while there are no hard and fast data facts on these working travelers, it’s safe to assume that they are unmarried 20-somethings, or older workers who are looking to combine their love of travel with telecommuting.
If the lure of digital nomadic life sounds appealing to you, here are some things to consider:
Do your research.
Before you pack your bags, it’s smart to do a little online digging as to how you’ll make your digital nomadic life work for you. Sites such as Teleport and Nomad List can help traveling workers with information on places to live, housing costs, coworking spaces, and even fun activities to do in the area. You can get social with fellow nomads on community chat rooms like Reddit’s /r/digitalnomad to learn tips and tricks for successfully combining work and travel.
Know the laws.
Many digital nomads travel to various countries on a tourist visa. But tax requirements may vary depending on the country you work in and the country where you have citizenship. So be sure to find out how the taxes you will need to pay can impact your ability to work in a certain country—and how it will affect your overall income.
Plan short trips to start.
If you’re planning to stay in a new country for a long length of time, it’s a good idea to take a mini trip there first to make sure that working there will, well, work for you. After all, it’s easy to get distracted when you’re just working from home, but imagine if you’re in an entirely new country with lots of fun places to explore! By staying for a shorter period of time in a new place, you can try out a digital nomadic life—and see if this new way of working works for you.
photo credit: istockphoto.com