Digital nomad

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 or mobile hotspots. Successful digital nomads typically have a financial cushion or need to develop high levels of self-reliance and self-discipline.[4] The digital nomad community has had various events established to host members of it. Common types of digital nomads include retired or semi-retired persons (including snowbirds), independently wealthy or entrepreneurs, and (often younger) remote workers. People typically become digital nomads for positive reasons, such as financial independence and a career that allows for location independence. 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.


One of the earliest known uses of the term digital nomad originally was in 1997, in the book Digital Nomad[5] . 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.[6] Digital nomads can use wireless Internet, smartphones, Voice over IP, and/or cloud-based applications to work remotely where they live or travel.[7][8] Digital nomads may use co-working spaces, cafes, house sitting agreements, and shared offices.[9] The foundation of the digital nomad movement is remote work, allowing people to do their work at home or otherwise through the Internet.[10] Digital nomads may also sell a number of possessions in order to make travel easier, and may also sell or rent their house.[11]

Digital nomads tend to travel while they continue to work with clients or employers.[12] They find people with whom they can explore the world by using apps like Fairytrail, TourBar, and others.[13] 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.[14] In some cases, the digital nomad lifestyle leads to misunderstanding and miscommunication between digital nomads and their clients or employers.[15] 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.[16][10] Services such as PayPal are popular among digital nomads.[6] Skype is also a common tool for people to use to communicate through voice, text, and video chat across long distances.[6] 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.[6] 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.[17] 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.[17]


The term location independence was coined by Lea Woodward in 2006 as a word used to describe the digital nomad lifestyle.[18][non-primary source needed] There were "location-independent" workers before the "digital nomadism" label become popular.[6] Historically, one of the first digital nomads was Steve Roberts, who in 1983 rode on a computerized recumbent bicycle and was featured in the Popular Computing magazine.[6] In 1985, a satellite system called Motosat was established, allowing greater access to the Internet.[6] Digital nomads over time gained more ability to live that lifestyle. Such advancements include Wi-Fi Internet and Internet-enabled laptops.[6] 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 [19][20] and international conferences for digital nomads like DNX sprung up.[21][22][23][24] 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 nomad 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.[6] A documentary film about the digital nomad lifestyle by Christine and Drew Gilbert, titled The Wireless Generation, earned $37,000 in funding through Kickstarter.[6] A cruise called "The Nomad Cruise" was founded in order to offer a means by which digital nomads could meet and interact.[25]

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.[25] Digital nomads have been said to be inspired by Tim Ferriss' The 4-Hour Workweek, David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology, and the work of Mark Manson.[26][27]

Popular destinationsEdit

Digital nomad working from Thailand.

Certain destinations are among the more popular locations for digital nomads, including Chiang Mai, Thailand, Medellín, Colombia, Mexico and Bali due to a low cost of living and reasonably high quality of life.[28] [17][29][30] For example, the town of Ubud in Bali became popular among digital nomads after the installation of fiber-optic communication for Internet access.[26] Another popular choice among digital nomads is Cyprus. A European state with low tax, a quick company set up process and beautiful scenery, the island of Cyprus has a growing nomad community. [31] Other cities include Tallinn, Tarifa, Bansko and Tbilisi due to critical mass and greater acceptance of the digital nomad lifestyle as well a relatively lower cost of living. Cities that have a higher cost of living exist for digital nomads, include Singapore and Oslo.[17] 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.[21] 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.[32] Organizations such as Innovation Birmingham exist to accommodate 90 technology companies.[32] But being a digital nomad doesn't mean that you have to choose a city and then stick to it, the beauty of being able to work as a digital nomad is the ability to pack up and leave where you are, jump on a plane, train or minibus and venture off into the wild, without the modern constraints of an office.[33]

Cause for the popularityEdit

The digital nomad lifestyle has become significantly more popular in recent years due to a number of factors. Internet connectivity becoming more widespread, even to rural areas, has helped people travel to more areas (digital nomad or otherwise).[10][25] Jobs becoming less location-dependent (such as graphic designers and writers) has also contributed to the ease of the digital nomad lifestyle.[25] There are some negative factors 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.[25]

Legal developmentsEdit

Many digital nomads tend to come from more developed nations with passports allowing a greater degree of freedom of travel. As a result, many tend to travel on a tourist visa.[34] While it is technically illegal for a digital nomad to work in a country on a tourist visa, many digital nomads tend to reside in locations with a lower cost of living while working remotely on projects outside their country of residence. In most countries, as long as the nomad is discreet and is not taking a job away from a local person, the authorities will turn a blind eye to nomad work. Visa runs are also often common in the digital nomad community. Some nomads have also attempted to legalize their stay by taking up part-time jobs in teaching English as well as taking university courses in their host country. In addition, digital nomads often use their status as perpetual travelers to escape the tax liability in their home countries without immigrating to the tax system of another country.[35] Nevertheless, this practice is considered controversial amongst digital nomads.

This has resulted in the creation of several programs targeted at digital nomads such as the e-Residency in Estonia and a SMART visa program in Thailand. Estonia has also announced plans of a digital nomad visa, following its growing e-Residency applications.[36][37] Some digital nomads have used Germany's residence permit for the purpose of freelance or self-employment[38] to legalize their stay, but successful applicants must have a tangible connection and reason to stay in Germany.

Notable digital nomadsEdit

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. ^ Cook, Dave (12 March 2020). "The freedom trap: digital nomads and the use of disciplining practices to manage work/leisure boundaries". Information Technology & Tourism. doi:10.1007/s40558-020-00172-4.
  5. ^ T. Makimoto, D. Manners (1997), Digital Nomad (New York: John Wiley & Sons).
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Schlagwein, Daniel (December 6, 2018). "The History of Digital Nomadism". International Workshop on the Changing Nature of Work (CNOW). Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  7. ^ Tsugio Makimoto & David Manners (1 January 1997), Digital nomad, Wiley
  8. ^ Mike Elgan (1 August 2009), Is Digital Nomad Living Going Mainstream?, Computerworld
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  13. ^ Hope, April. "Dating Apps & Sites that Help Travelers Hang Out, Hook Up & Find Love". Love Lust or Bust. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  14. ^ Meggan Snedden (30 August 2013), When work is a nonstop vacation, - Capital
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  16. ^ "Digital nomads travel the world while you rot in your office". Mashable. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  17. ^ a b c d "Traveling as a Digital Nomad". Scott's Cheap Flights. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  18. ^ Lea, Jovy (July 23, 2019). "Who Is Lea Jovy?". Retrieved July 23, 2019.
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  20. ^ Anna Hart (17 May 2015), Living and working in paradise: the rise of the 'digital nomad', The Telegraph
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  33. ^ 39
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