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Digital nomads are a type of people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner.[1] Such workers often work remotely from foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces, or recreational vehicles.[2][3] This is often accomplished through the use of devices that have wireless Internet capabilities such as smartphones. Successful digital nomads typically have a financial cushion. The digital nomad community has had various events established to host members of it, such as the Nomad Cruise. Digital nomads may vary depending on status; common types of digital nomads include refugees, affluent people, younger people, and entrepreneurs. People who become digital nomads often do so due to positive reasons, such as financial independence and a career that allows for location independence. Negative factors for why people become digital nomads include a reduced amount of full-time employment, political unrest, and a high cost of living in their country of origin.



One of the earliest known uses of the term digital nomad originally was in 1997. It was the title of a book published by educational publishing company Wiley. It was written by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners. It is unknown if the phrase was coined in this book or if they took a term that had already existed.[4] Digital nomads can use wireless Internet, smartphones, Voice over IP, and/or cloud-based applications to work remotely where they live or travel.[5][6] Digital nomads may use co-working spaces, cafes, house sitting agreements, and shared offices.[7] The foundation of the digital nomad movement is remote work, allowing people to do their work at home or otherwise through the Internet.[8] Digital nomads may also sell a number of possessions in order to make travel easier, and may also sell or rent their house.[9] Living as a digital nomad typically requires a decent financial cushion in order to live adequately.[10]

Digital nomads tend to travel while they continue to work with clients or employers.[11] This sort of lifestyle may present challenges such as maintaining international health insurance with coverage globally, abiding by different local laws and sometimes obtaining work visas, and maintaining long-distance relationships with friends and family back home.[12] Other challenges may also include time zone differences, the difficulty of finding a reliable connection to the internet, and the absence of delineation between work and leisure time.[13][8] Services such as PayPal are popular among digital nomads.[4] Skype is also a common tool for people to use to communicate through voice, text, and video chat across long distances.[4] YouTube has also been used by digital nomads as a means by which to earn revenue without having to have a central workplace or living space.[4] An important step in being a digital nomad is ensuring that all relevant documentation (such as visas and passports) is kept up to date. If you do not, it can lead to legal difficulties when traveling abroad.[14] A solid grasp of any official languages of the countries you are visiting is also important, as a lack thereof can prevent a person from engaging with the locals. It also creates the risk of complication if you have to go to the hospital.[14]

The term location independence was coined by Lea Woodward in 2006 as a word used to describe the digital nomad lifestyle.[4]


Before the term was coined, there were people who fit the term.[4] An early "digital nomad" was Steve Roberts, who in 1983 rode on a computerized recumbent bicycle and was featured in the Popular Computing magazine.[4] In 1985, a satellite system called Motosat was established, allowing greater access to the Internet.[4] Digital nomads over time gained more ability to live that lifestyle. Such advancements include Wi-Fi Internet and Internet-enabled laptops.[4] The digital nomad lifestyle is rapidly growing in popularity since 2014, when websites ranking cities by cost of living, weather and internet speed to help nomads choose where to live [15] [16] and international conferences for digital nomads like DNX sprung up. [17][18][19][20][21][22][23] Since then the movement has coincided with the rise of remote work becoming a viable way to work, especially in technology companies in Silicon Valley. Digital nomading began to become popular with brand names in 2009. National Geographic started the "Digital Nomad blog," and Dell Computers launched a short-lived website called Digital Nomads.[4] A documentary about the digital nomad lifestyle was funded through Kickstarter and ultimately earned $37,000 in funds. The documentary was created by wife and husband Christine and Drew Gilbert, and was titled The Wireless Generation.[4] A cruise called "The Nomad Cruise" was founded in order to offer a means by which digital nomads could meet and interact.[24]

Virtually anyone can attempt to live the digital nomad life, though certain groups are more representative in the community. These groups include younger people, entrepreneurs, refugees, nomads overall, people from well to do nations, and more.[24]

Popular destinationsEdit

Certain destinations are among the more popular locations for digital nomads, including Chiang Mai, Thailand and Bali due to a low cost of living and reasonably high quality of life.[25] [14][26] Cities that have a higher cost of living exist for digital nomads, include Singapore and Oslo.[14] Other notable movements loosely related to digital nomads rising in popularity include Vandwelling. Due to the popularity, opportunities for people to live as a digital nomad in the area exist to facilitate this.[20] In the United Kingdom, certain cities such as Bristol, Birmingham, and Brighton are popular. This is due to the lower cost of living compared to London.[27] Organizations such as Innovation Birmingham exist to accommodate 90 technology companies.[27]

Cause for the popularityEdit

The digital nomad lifestyle became significantly more popular in recent years due to a number of factors. Internet connectivity becoming more widespread, even to rural areas, has done a world of good to help people travel to more areas (digital nomad or otherwise).[8][24] Jobs becoming less location-dependent (such as graphic designers and writers) has also contributed to the ease of digital nomading.[24] There are some negative factors as well that cause people to become digital nomads. These include political unrest in their home countries, a high cost of living where they live, the diminishing of long-term employment, and more.[24]

Notable digital nomadsEdit

There have been several people whose business has seen them some success. These include:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Mohn, Tanya. "How To Succeed At Becoming A Digital Nomad". 
  2. ^ "Digital Nomad Definition". Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  3. ^ "How to become a digital nomad". DIY DIFM. Retrieved November 19, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Gilbert, Christine (September 6, 2013). "A Brief History of Digital Nomading". Almost Fearless. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  5. ^ Tsugio Makimoto & David Manners (1 January 1997), Digital nomad, Wiley 
  6. ^ Mike Elgan (1 August 2009), Is Digital Nomad Living Going Mainstream?, Computerworld 
  7. ^ Colella, Kristin (2016-07-13). "5 'digital nomads' share their stories from around the world". Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  8. ^ a b c Nash, Caleece (Feb 2018). "Digital nomads beyond the buzzword: Defining digital nomadic work and use of digital technologies" (PDF). Lecture Notes in Computer Science. iConference 2018 – via Springer. 
  9. ^ "What is a digital nomad?". Nomad Radar. Retrieved November 19, 2017. 
  10. ^ "The Digital Nomad Life". Nomad Radar. Retrieved November 19, 2017. 
  11. ^ Lamarque, Hannah. "The Rise of the Digital Nomad". Huffington Post. Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  12. ^ Meggan Snedden (30 August 2013), When work is a nonstop vacation, - Capital
  13. ^ "Digital nomads travel the world while you rot in your office". Mashable. Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  14. ^ a b c d "Traveling as a Digital Nomad". Scott's Cheap Flights. Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  15. ^ BBC Capital (22 November 2017), The digital nomads working in paradise, BBC
  16. ^ Anna Hart (17 May 2015), Living and working in paradise: the rise of the 'digital nomad', The Telegraph
  17. ^ "Marcus & Feli: Work Hard and Travel the World," The Surf Office, January 5, 2015
  18. ^ "Nomad Summit". Retrieved 2017-09-20. 
  19. ^ "Digital Nomad Conference". DNX. 
  20. ^ a b Hynes, Casey. "Why Digital Nomads & Entrepreneurs Keep Choosing Chiang Mai". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-09-20. 
  21. ^ Steven Melendez (23 March 2015), Work From Anywhere But Home: Startups Emerge to Turn You Into a Globetrotting Digital Nomad, Fast Company
  22. ^ Rosie Spinks (16 June 2015), Meet the 'digital nomads' who travel the world in search of fast Wi-Fi, The Guardian
  23. ^ Kavi Guppta (25 February 2015), Digital Nomads Are Redefining What It Means To Be Productive, Forbes
  24. ^ a b c d e Binazar, Ali (November 14, 2017). "My First Cruise: Learning, Friendship and Open Bar on the High Seas". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  25. ^ CNN (27 June 2016), Want to escape the office? Top 10 cities for digital nomads, CNN
  26. ^ "Bangkok, A Digital Nomad Hub – Moving Nomads". Retrieved 2017-12-09. 
  27. ^ a b "Living and working in paradise: the rise of the 'digital nomad'". The Telegraph. May 17, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2017.