The Silent Nomad: Life as A Digital Nomad

With the growing use of online communication over the years, a new type of professional has emerged – the digital nomad. The digital nomads are those who work while moving, travelling, and doing new things. They only communicate with their employers using the internet. All they need is a stable internet connection and a laptop to do their work.
They work in a fancy restaurant, a cozy café, a hotel room, and even from home. They also travel and work in different parts of the world – Portugal, Africa, Austin, Miami, Gran Canaria, Munich, Madrid, Montreal, Kiev, Houston, Phuket, and Athens. The silent nomad often works from beach resorts, adventure cafes, and camp sites.
But, what is it really like to be a digital nomad? Is it all play? Well, here’s a glimpse of the glamorous life of the silent nomad:
Benefits of Being A Digital Nomad
The life of the silent nomad is appealing to many for many reasons, including:
1. Flexibility
Being a digital nomad allows you to work wherever you want and whenever you want. You do not have to work from 9 to 5 or get confined to the office 8 hours a day. As long as you get the job done on time, you could work anytime you like. You can also choose your own office space.
You can work from your bedroom, home office, veranda, or you can work from the beach or from a boho café near a surf camp. Facing a gray wall all day can be depressing, so if you want to work and explore the world at the same time, it is a good idea to become a digital nomad.
Take the case of Rosie. Rosie worked in a call center for years. There are a lot of things that she wants to do – she wants to tour around Europe and do different types of work all at the same time. She also wants to have a little business on the side. Rosie realized that these goals are difficult to achieve if she’s still working in a contact center. So, she decided to quit her job and look for jobs in an online marketplace.
She started working on different projects – writing, report preparation, and project management. She first had a home office, but as time went by, she decided to go out and work from different parts of the world – Milan, Amsterdam, Singapore, Cambodia, and in different parts of France and the Philippines.
She was also able to establish her own business while getting a regular paycheck from the clients. She’s able to work anytime of the day and she can go out and pay bills, run errands, or take care of legal concerns in between work. Rosie’s life as a silent nomad is not without challenges, but it allowed her to travel around the world and accomplish many things at once.
Also, digital nomads can take different types of work depending on their skill set. This is not something that corporate employees can do. Aside from the fact that digital nomads can choose where and when to work, they can also choose what type of projects to work on. In fact, they can work on different types of projects in a specific amount of time, say a year. They can take web development work, they can create graphic designs for businesses, and they can even write an e-book!
2. No traffic
A lot of people waste their precious time on commuting and traffic. Digital nomads have a great life because they do not have to deal with traffic and all that emotional stress associated with it. Avoiding traffic is one of the perks of being a silent nomad.
3. Flexible vacation
For many corporate workers, getting a vacation is as hard as finding a unicorn. Digital nomads can take a vacation anytime they want as long as they can deliver their work output in time.
Take the case of Mikhail, a software developer based in Brighton. He always dreamed of going around Europe, but his work as a software engineer and game developer has kept him from realizing that dream. One day, he had a panic attack and this is when he knew that he cannot keep on living his unhealthy lifestyle.
So, he left his job and took freelance software and web development jobs. In a span of four years, he lived in different places – Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Nazare, Seoul, and Bali. He met a lot of people and he even met a lovely Indonesian woman who would later become his wife.
4. Sense of control
Digital nomads are in charge of their schedule and their work. They do not have to do continuous work in a day. They manage themselves and they are their own boss. They decide how much work they should take in a day and what projects to work on. So, they have a strong sense of control of their time and energy.
This sense of control is a privilege, but it is also a responsibility. If you want to be a silent nomad, you need to be accountable and proactive to get things done.
5. Productivity
Being in control of your own time allows you to work when you are most productive. According to self-help expert Brian Tracy, we all have a certain “prime time”. That’s the time when you are most productive. Being a silent nomad allows you to work during your “prime time”.
For example, if you’re a morning person, you can start your work at 6 am. But, if you’re a nocturnal person, you can work from 10 pm until the wee hours of the morning. Working during your “prime time” does not only increase your efficiency and productivity, but it also improves your work output.
6. Access to the digital nomad community
There are many digital nomads in the world and they all have great stories to tell. Take the case of John, a British digital nomad who works as an online English teacher. He was exploring Cambodia when he met another nomad named Kat – a Filipino who was also working as an online English tutor. They decided to work together and explore the world together. They eventually got married.
Christine was an online project manager. During her first trip to Europe, she got lost. Luckily, she met a digital nomad couple named Basel and Grace. The couple agreed to tour with her around Europe, while working in trains and coffee shops.
Challenges of Being A Digital Nomad
Being a silent nomad has its perks, but it’s not a walk in the park. It is not as simple as you think. Digital nomads encounter these challenges from time to time:
1. Finding a stable internet connection.
The work of digital nomads depends heavily on internet connection. Absence of stable internet connection in the area they’re travelling to can destroy their work schedule and can affect their work output. Public wifi areas, portable pocket wifi, and USB internet sticks are not as reliable as a steady cable internet connection. Staying in cafes with stable WiFI connection is also expensive.
2. The traveling can affect your work efficiency.
Traveling from one place to another is time-consuming and tiring, too. This could affect your productivity and efficiency. Globe-trotting may seem glamorous, but traveling from one airport to another can get you old over time. Also, being in a beautiful place is actually distracting. It’s hard to work when you are in Hawaii or in Paris!
3. There’s no clear line between work and pleasure.
The main problem that many digital nomads face is that it’s extremely difficult to switch off the “work mode”. Contrary to the popular belief, digital nomads actually work longer hours than regular office-based employees. They also have a hard time drawing the line between play and work. Some of them are working when they should be enjoying the beach while others are taking a dip when they should be working.
4. It’s expensive.
Let’s face it, traveling around the world is expensive. So, if you want to be a silent nomad, you need to juggle different jobs and projects just to afford the “traveler lifestyle”.
5. It can affect your relationships.
Being away most of the year can take a toll on your friendships and relationship with your loved ones. Sure, you can always talk to them online, but no amount of Skype video calls or Facetime can replace physical interaction with the people you care about.
6. Not everyone has a success story.
A lot of digital nomads have a fabulous life. They work in a beach resort and some earn tens of thousands of dollars. But, not everyone has a success story to tell. The risk of failure is high when you leave your good-paying job for digital freelancing.
7. Being alone.
Life as a silent nomad can get lonely from time to time because it’s hard to find a partner who can follow you wherever you go. So, it is important to find ways to overcome your loneliness by following these tips:
• Join travel communities – Try to find local events and connect with other travelers through different websites such as DNX, Couchsurfing, Meetup, Hashtag Nomads, Facebook groups, and online forums. This will allow you to make new friends and learn a tip or two from fellow digital nomads.
• Follow a routine – One of the perks of being a digital nomad is being able to work whenever you want. But, if you want to increase your efficiency and decrease your feelings of loneliness, it’s best to establish a routine that works for you. You can set a morning routine that involves yoga and other forms of exercise. You can also establish your weekly schedule to draw the line between work and play.
• Be open – Take time to go out and socialize. Say yes to invitations and smile to people.
• Build a team – You don’t have to be alone. If you’re building an online business, you can build a team and maybe travel with them every now and then.
• Pick English-speaking countries – Working in a country where no one speaks English can get lonely. So, it’s a great idea to consider an English-speaking country. You can consider expat friendly countries such as China, Thailand, Malaysia, Switzerland, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand, Canada, Qatar, Hong Kong, Belgium, Czech Republic, Spain, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Sweden, and Germany.
• Establish a base – You do not have to spend all your time traveling. To fight the feelings of loneliness, it’s best to establish a base.

8. You won’t get the usual benefits.
Most online employers do not offer health and other benefits. So, if you want to get a health insurance, you’ll have to pay for that yourself.
Life as a digital nomad is great, but it has its own ups and down. So, to seal your success as a digital nomad, it is important to proactively address these issues.
Choosing A Destination
Based on experience, it is best to follow these tips in choosing your travel destinations:
1. Availability and speed of internet.
This may be hard to believe, but the internet speed is so slow in a lot of third world countries. Also, a lot of towns in these countries do not have internet access. It is important to purchase a separate USB that has global internet connectivity. Also, it is important to check the internet availability of the places you plan to visit so you could arrange your work schedule accordingly.
2. Consider the cost of living.
It is ideal to pick a place where you could spend less than $40 a day. Aim to spend only around $1500 per month – this includes your housing, transportation, food, etc.
3. Proximity to other digital nomad friendly countries.
If you have itchy feet, it would be great to pick a country that’s near other expat friendly countries. Take the case of Nick, a Canadian working as an online graphic artist. He traveled across the world and lived in Bali, Indonesia for six months. Then, he travelled to different cities in Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Cebu, Manila, Phnom Penh, and Hanoi.
4. Pick a country that grants visas easily.
Getting a Visa is a tiring and costly process so it is best to pick a country that grants visas easily. But, you don’t have to worry about this if you live in a country that has powerful passports such as Sweden, Finland, Germany, United Kingdom, Denmark, Canada, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, France, Austria, Singapore, Ireland, Greece, New Zealand, Australia, Hungary, and Malaysia.
The life as a silent nomad is fun and exciting. It allows you to work wherever you want and whenever you feel like it. It also allows you to travel and see the beauty of the world while earning a living. But, it is not a life without challenges. This life is not for everyone. So, before you decide to quit your job to do freelance work and travel around the world, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons.

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