One Year as a Digital Nomad: My Thoughts

I’ve been working as a digital nomad now for almost exactly one year and decided that I would share my inane thoughts and experiences for those who might be interested in the lifestyle.

A digital nomad is a term used to loosely describe people whose jobs are usually done on a laptop and are location independent. That is, they either don’t require you to attend an office or don’t involve the kind of work that requires you to stay in one particular place. Some examples include writing, photography, graphic design, web design, coding and video editing.

Being a digital nomad doesn’t necessarily mean you work for yourself – many digital nomads are normal, 9-5, Monday to Friday, company employees. However, the nature of their job means they never have to go into the office and can work from anywhere in the world – so long as there is an internet connection. Many digital nomads stay in one place for months or even years at a time, while others are essentially homeless travelers who work from hotels, restaurants, airports or anywhere else they can get a wifi signal. I fall into the latter group.

I got into digital nomad’ing via what I consider to be the simplest route available – content writing. Content writing simply means writing content for any kind of publication – websites, blogs, marketing agencies or even physical newspapers. All it requires is a laptop and a basic grasp of grammar and literacy in the language of your choice – English, of course, being the most widely accepted. Through content writing, I got involved in product reviews, research, technical writing, financial analysis and eventually journalism, which is what I mainly do now.

You can’t put a price on freedom

Working from a yacht off the east coast of Australia

The number one reason that I chose to become a digital nomad is the freedom. Not simply because I can work from home in my underwear (something I do far less often than you would think) but because I can go wherever I want, whenever I want. This is not something that necessarily appeals to everyone, but for me, I would go so far as to say that it is now a non-negotiable aspect of my life.

I earn CONSIDERABLY less than I did in my old 9-5 office job. I mean, like, seriously multiple, multiple times less, but I would never give up what I have now to go back to that. For me, there is genuinely no price that you can place on freedom. As a result, my lifestyle has had to take on some changes and I can no longer afford to live in major cities like London or New York. I can’t even eat sushi that often anymore. I can, however, live on a beach in Thailand, a lakeside cottage in Bulgaria, or literally anywhere else in the world that has vaguely decent wifi and affordable accommodation. For somebody with a severely debilitating addiction to travel, this is an understandably necessary requirement.

The unforeseen benefits

In the course of becoming a digital nomad, I have reaped many unforeseen benefits along the way. Probably the most significant of these are the lessons in motivation, self-restraint, diligence and independence. In my old job, I would do the least amount of work required in order to not get fired and I would call in sick the maximum amount of times possible without it triggering a disciplinary hearing. I was lazy, inconsiderate and unmotivated because I knew that I would still get paid the same amount of money no matter what I did.

Now, there are no sick days. There are no unnecessary toilet breaks or extended lunch hours. No sneaky work avoidance tactics or bullshit excuses. If I don’t work, the only person who loses out is me. Every minute of every hour of every day is potential earning time and every minute spent not working is money lost. This is an aspect of the lifestyle that would scare off many people but if I can do it, trust me, anyone can. It all comes down to how badly you want it.

Another incredible benefit that I have gained from this lifestyle is the amazing amount of new information that I learn on a daily basis. Over the past year, I have done the equivalent level of research that most people would do while studying for a degree. Not only have I learnt how to write on a professional level but I have also gained a wealth of knowledge on a range of ludicrous and useful topics in which I previously had no interest. Cloud computing, health and nutrition, gambling regulations, UK and US politics, relationship and sex advice – you name it. I now know all this crazy stuff about finance and economics that was all Greek to me before and I know practically everything about blockchain technology – something that I seriously hope will be useful one day because, f*ck me, it’s confusing!

All and all, I can safely say that one year on, the decision to become a digital nomad is working out swimmingly. I’ll admit, I’m still incredibly new to all this and have no idea if it will actually be successful in the long run. I haven’t even done my first tax return yet and have literally no idea which country I’m even supposed to do it in. But I’m no longer afraid of losing my job like I used to be in the old days because now the only person in control of my financial future is me…. which, when written down like that doesn’t actually seem like the best idea.

Anyway, whatever, the point is – life is too short to worry about money. I still have 153 more countries to see and this world is not going to travel itself. So, see you on a beach somewhere! I’ll be the guy squinting at my laptop in the annoying midday sun. (Seriously though, who works on the beach? That’s just ridiculous.)

Me, working on the beach

Actually becoming a digital nomad was, of course, a relatively more difficult and complicated process than I have described here. However, if you think it’s something that would interest you, feel free to ask me any questions. I would highly recommend it – especially if, like me, you have the nagging feeling that there is more to life than spending 40 hours a week in a dimly lit office cubicle.

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