I can’t recall when I first heard the term “digital nomad”
Probably a few years back, while listening to one of my favorite travel podcasts. After researching and learning a little bit more about the term, I knew that it was the lifestyle I wanted for myself. I’m a lover of long-term travel and being abroad, so the idea of utilizing the Internet to work remotely was an enticing one. I eventually decided to take the leap in April of 2016. Here are the primary reasons that brought me to this decision.
As a digital nomad you’re usually working as a freelancer, often serving multiple clients. For the last few years I worked freelance for 2-3 clients at night and on the weekends, while I wasn’t at my full-time office job. Finally in 2015 I hit a point where the freelance overcame the full-time job. I was making significantly more money freelancing, doing most of the work from home on my laptop.
Freelancing offered me freedoms and control I didn’t have at the full-time position. I liked that the work was relative to the amount of time and energy I put into it. It offered me flexibility. If I wanted more money, I worked harder. If I needed a little free time, I could ease back on the work load. You don’t have that kind of control at most full-time 9-5s. If you want to work your way up the corporate ladder, you have to wait for some schmuck to allow and approve that.
The ability to work for multiple clients offers me stability. If one client drops me, I still have other clients and streams of revenue. If I don’t like what another client is doing, or how I’m being treated, I can walk away and not take additional work from them (which I’ve actually done a few times and it feels GREAT).
If you get fired in the 9-5 world, you have to hustle and apply for a new job. You might have to rely on unemployment to carry you over, and you might even have to move to a location you don’t want to due to the fact that it’s the only location where you can find work.
The key to becoming a digital nomad is finding work you can do 100% online, or remotely. I have a television production background, and as of right now I’m doing some freelance writing and teaching online about filmmaking and video production. By finding work I can do online, I open myself up to be location independent. All I need is a laptop and the occasional Wifi signal.
I had to sacrifice a client that wanted me to stay close to their HQ, even though I could do all of my work remotely. They felt more comfortable having someone that could be on site for meetings. But that’s the price I pay for location independence. And I must say it’s well worth it.
As a freelancing digital nomad, I not only work where I want, but I work when I want. I really prefer this, due to the fact that I work best early mornings and later in the night. You don’t have this option in the 9-5 world. Want to take a post-lunch nap? Too bad 9-5er.
This style of working really gives me a lot of control over my schedule. If a friend comes to visit in the middle of the week, I can take some time to spend with them. If I ever have kids this flexibility will allow me to change diapers whenever I need to, and be there for all of those great first moments.
All of the reasons listed above help facilitate a life of travel and exploration, which is my primary end goal. With flexibility, time, financial stability and location independence, I free myself up to travel wherever my heart desires. I can travel fast or slow, to wherever I would like, as long as I have the budget, a laptop and the internet.
I can get an apartment somewhere in Europe for a few months. I can go work in a cafe in France or Italy. I can road trip and explore the United States.
It all really comes down to control. I want control over my time, my finances, and my happiness. If I’m not happy with where I’m living, I want to have the option of moving. If I’m not happy with my job, I want to be able to walk away and do something else. If I’m not making enough money, I want to be able to work harder and progress.
I want control over my life.
At the time of this writing, I’m three months into my digital nomad lifestyle, working towards making it sustainable. Please follow along with the struggle! 🙂 I’ll be posting details about my income and expenses, and other content related to my transition to the digital nomad lifestyle.