Digital Nomads Can Thrive In Uncertain Times

By Steven Maxwell

If we’ve learned anything over the last 2+ years, governments can be slow but ultimately heavy-handed in how they respond to crises. It can make it extremely difficult for those who desire a solid and steady trajectory in their lives, especially economically. Fortunately, it had been a longstanding trend prior to the most recent severe turbulence in the global economy that more people are working from their home computer in order to take advantage of the rapid pace of technological advancement and the opportunities that have arisen for making a living online while residing nearly anywhere in the world.

The fact is that the modern world is full of talented people who have the tools at their disposal to weather a variety of economic storms and even political upheaval. In essence, any country that offers stable high-speed internet and good residency options is a potential home base for those looking to maximize their income by reducing their cost of living. Many digital nomads have found a tremendous increase in their quality of life after relocating to Mexico, Panama, Portugal, or even Kenya. Several countries even let you apply online for a residency visa. There is undoubtedly a newfound mobility to the modern high-tech worker or entrepreneur, but it can take some intestinal fortitude and a willingness to be on the move, sometimes frequently.

It’s also an opportunity for any region of the world that is willing to embrace people who understand that the future of employment is very likely a borderless one. Statistics continue to show an uptick in those who are willing to relocate, those who expanding into entrepreneurship and those who are willing to even label themselves specifically as digital nomads. It’s also a broad cross-section of the population who have shown a willingness to pick up and leave, if need be, and not merely among new or younger workers, as one might assume. From BusinessWire:

The findings provided important insights for companies into how workers are considering family relocations, given the increased time spent together this past year:

    • Workers who are married or in a relationship are more willing to relocate for work during the pandemic, with 81 percent of coupled workers willing to move, compared to 64 percent of single workers.
    • Children are also a deciding factor. Almost nine in 10 workers with children (89 percent) would be willing to physically relocate for work during the pandemic — significantly more than the 65 percent of their child-free counterparts.
    • Almost half (46 percent) of respondents said they’d only be willing to relocate for less than six months without their family or partner.
    • However, over one-third (36 percent) said they’d be willing to relocate without their family or partner for more than three years, largely due to concerns with how family members will adjust to the relocation.

“These findings reinforce the bright future ahead for the global mobility industry. Now is the time for employers to adjust talent mobility strategies and policies to match mobile employees’ needs, wants and concerns,” said Phelps. “COVID-19 altered just about everything in our world, but one thing remains the same — it’s that workers are still willing and eager to make the move to find new possibilities and experiences through relocation.” (My emphasis added)

That said, leaving the country of one’s birth is not something to take lightly. However, from those whom I’ve met that have made that transition, here are three common attributes that can lead to more success and more happiness if one decides to journey abroad:

  • Realize that it does not have to be a permanent move. You can always return if you feel that the grass really was not as green as expected. Or try a new location with slightly different parameters than what you initially thought might be “deal-breakers.”
  • Remain adaptable and flexible, especially culturally. It’s essential that you retain what you consider positive about your own culture, but do not make any attempt to judge or impose that upon the people you encounter in your new country. Take note of the differences, naturally, but realize that an entire country will not change simply because you showed up. This mentality should make it far easier to make the important personal connections that you will need as you are trying to thrive in your new surroundings, instead of self-isolating through unrealistic expectations.
  • Be sure to extend your budget by at least 20% over your initial projections. Whether it is inflation, currency devaluation, or some other unforeseen expense, living abroad is often more expensive than what gets advertised through featured articles about the low cost of living outside the U.S. or other more costly Western nations. Rent can quickly fluctuate based on demand, food prices can rise quickly as we have seen, travel expenses might be more than imagined, energy costs, etc. From my own sources, there is nothing worse than being in a place where you don’t speak the language and you have an emergency that you can’t pay for. Backup plans are key and quick exit strategies are recommended.

The great news is that for those who decide to take the plunge into this lifestyle, there are more resources than ever before and many more groups dedicated to the lifestyle of the digital nomad. Websites for researching, networking and discussing with others who have already tried your potential location are now more plentiful and well organized.  Here are a few of the leaders to get you started:

Are you considering becoming a digital nomad? Have you already become one? Please share your thoughts, concerns and tips so that we can help empower our community to thrive under any economic conditions.

Image: Pixabay

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