During the pre-Neolithic Era, we as people were hunters and gatherers who foraged around in groups, before we finally made a decision to settle down. The nomadic lifestyle involved perpetual movement from one place to another, in search of means of sustenance.
It is evident that we are witnessing gravitation from current mores towards the revival of this ancient lifestyle, albeit in a much more contemporary sense.
Enter ‘digital nomads’.
The phrase has two parts; the word nomad which is derived from the Greek word ‘nomas’ which literally meant ‘roaming in search of pastures and digital; which perfectly sums up the current day and age.
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The term was coined in the year 1997 by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners in a book titled ‘The Digital Nomad’. This book prophesized the invention of a singular, all powerful communication device to rule them all, the mobile phone.
The number of worldwide mobile phone users is forecast to reach 4.77 billion by the year 2017. No technology has ever been adopted by so many, so fast.
This mobility, coupled with other technologies like the internet, a host of collaboration and productivity boosting tools, have acted as enablers for a whole new breed of professionals. This leads us to the question:
1. Who are digital nomads?
Put in simple words, a digital nomad is simply any professional who:
- Makes a living by applying their skill sets in a digital sphere of work.
- Eliminates the use of a conventional workspace setting by leveraging technology, especially the internet, telecommunications and social media, to gain location independence.
- Maintains a highly migrant lifestyle, which involves habitual travelling and not settling down anywhere for extended stretches of time, which in most cases is a couple of months.
2. Why are they choosing a nomadic life?
When one chooses to be a digital nomad, one commits to a certain lifestyle. There are assortments of reasons that are influencing millennials to increasingly opt out of the conventional 9-5.
a)Dissatisfaction with the 9 to 5 humdrum routine.
The absence of a sense of accomplishment and excitement in their routine jobs and standard of living drives people. Especially for those living in metropolitans, vying for an escape from the concrete jungles of superstructures and masses of people surrounding them it is the only way out.
The need for a sense of adventure which can be attributed to a departure from a materialism mind-set and exploring uncharted territories like experientialism, which are slowly but surely gaining traction.
- Why own a home when you can rent one on a beach?
- Why cook when you can get doorstep delivery that’s just a click away?
- Do you need to buy a car when you can Uber everywhere?
- Why commit when you have options?
The option of remote work, made possible with technology and a growing community of people looking at location independent careers for the long run.
Freedom to plan one’s day as one chooses is a liberty as well as a responsibility.
Take your pick!
3. What are the pre-requisites for a nomad?
a)Fast and uninterrupted Internet connectivity.
It is beyond argument that water and air are the elixirs of all life, but Internet does come in close at the third spot. Ask any freelancer or digital nomad. Happiness is directly proportional to the speed of the broadband connection in MbPS.
DID YOU KNOW?
The quantum of active Internet users has rocketed from 738 million in 2000 to 3.2 billion in 2015, published a report from the International Telecommunication Union.
b)Affordable and quality accommodation/ co-working/ co-living spaces.
The availability of cheap and quality living accommodation is a very important factor to be taken into consideration.
Nomads usually prefer and look up:
1. Youth hostels/ Dorms
3. Co-working spaces.
4. Co-living spaces.
The civil infrastructure, amenities, ease of access in terms of welfare and community services, governance are all factors that are taken into due consideration by many nomads.
‘Man is a social animal’.
This age old adage has never seemed to be as apt as it is right now. It is no more about what you know but who you know. Individuals with effective people skills, communication abilities and interesting personalities are more probable to succeed in this vertical.
e)Geographical and climate preferences.
Many travellers look forward to travelling as much as they do work.
Some are predisposed to beaches and warmer sub-tropical climates to get away from harsh winters, whilst some crave for chilly mornings, runs in the mountains and piping hot coffee in the mornings.
f)Consumer Price Index and Exchange Rates
CPI in layman’s language is the index of prices of wholesale commodities that are essential for daily living. Milk, eggs, meat and poultry, access to potable water, grains, veggies and fruits, etc. are all a part of this.
Also, another matter of significance is the exchange rate of the location. It just makes fiscal sense to go to a place with a slightly weaker currency.
You can buy more food!
Yes! Workations are vacations where you take your work along.
Digital nomad havens are a reality. Usually countries with a strong tourism industry are the ones that are well positioned to become nomad friendly.
Considered to be the Mecca of the digital nomad world, it has multiple cities that frequent lists of favourite nomad destinations.Chiang Mai, Koh Tao and Bangkok figure in many lists.
An archipelago consisting of more than 13,000 islands, many of which to this date remain unexplored, is a no brainer. Not only Bali, but Flores, Java and Sulawesi also deserve a mention.
The jewel of Central America, Costa Rica is like a hazy dream. The people, the places and the culture all really come together to give a great living and working experience.
Also all who’ve been there rave about the unbelievable Wi-Fi reception in even the remotest areas. Rejoice!
Well because, Brazil!
Other than the picturesque settings of the countryside, the number of activities that you can involve yourself in are astounding. Right from learning Portuguese to Kiteboarding, Brazil won’t cease to amaze.
Rio de Janeiro
Also worth considering is Philippines, a beautiful country with diverse culture for nomads to explore whilst work breaks.
Europe receives last spot because of the fact that most countries in Europe are developed nations and have in place some excellent infrastructure and amenities. Although not as inexpensive as other places on the list, but its countries are definitely worth experiencing.
This venture by Pieter Levels is a site that lets nomads find the best places to live, work and meet. It has been beautifully designed and deploys some rad algorithms and research data to give you a tailored list of places.
Due to the growing numbers of people opting out of the conventional employment system and seeking careers in remote work, contractual work and consultancy, the Digital Nomad community grows strong each day.
Hubud and Startup Gateway, community working spaces, have transformed the way digital nomads operate in Indonesia.
Estonia has introduced a ground-breaking policy of issuing E-Residency which enables non-citizens to take advantage of public services.
Online service marketplaces also deserve a shout out. These websites help nomads find work and put some bread, butter and wine on the table. Sites like Upwork, Freelancer, Croogster, Toptal have been doing an amazing job by helping the nomads find relevant work consistently.
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