(Editor’s note: Digital Nomad Beth Hoke has contributed to Dispatches since 2016, filing from a dozen countries on topics as diverse as the Super Cup in Turkey to how to stay in the Schengen Area for more than 90 days. You can see Beth’s latest project here, Crowdsourcing Europe, the ultimate tool for expat travelers.)
These are trying times to be sure. A global pandemic caught us off guard, forcing us to rethink how we live and work. While I am not a fan of any member of the Trump family (except maybe Mary), and I find Ivanka
to be particularly tone-deaf in pretty much everything that she says and does, I understand what she’s trying to do with her “Find Something New” initiative.
Sometimes you have to pivot.
But I think the initiative misses the mark by only promoting traditional jobs. Now, more than ever, is a great time to become a digital nomad. A digital nomad is someone who works remotely, generally on a computer and generally on the road.
I, for example, am a digital nomad. I write travel articles, teach English online, and have recently started as a lead generator for a shipping container company, a job which I can do on my iPhone. I leverage these location-independent jobs to be, well, location independent.
I’ve worked on the beach in Croatia, from a friend’s balcony in Miami; on a ranch in California; in coffee shops in Paris, London, and Munich. On a cruise ship. At a bus station. From a train platform.
My journey as a digital nomad started three and a half years ago, but I knew it was what I wanted to do as soon as I read Tim Ferriss’s book “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.”
Make no mistake about it. I work way more than four hours every week and I am certainly not one of the “new rich.” But I’ve “escaped the office” and you can, too.
There are plenty of misconceptions about being a digital nomad:
• You don’t have to be young.
• You don’t have to be an Instagram influencer.
• You don’t have to be an entrepreneur or an independent contractor. Plenty of digital nomads are employed by companies such as Amazon, United Healthcare, Leidos, Wells Fargo, and Philips.
You just have to have a job that you can do on your computer.
As with any lifestyle, there are pros and cons.
Pros: You get to travel. You’re not stuck behind a desk. Your commute is non-existent. Your schedule is generally your own.
Cons: You might find yourself working more than eight hours per day. Your schedule may be out-of-sync with that of your clients or co-workers. You probably won’t become one of the “new rich.” (If you do, please let me know your secret!)
For me, the pros far outweigh the cons. Being a digital nomad has meant that not much has changed for me during the pandemic — at least not work-wise. I can still write, teach, and sell shipping containers.
The nomad part of the equation has certainly been curtailed, but I’ve taken it in stride and spent time with friends and family in the United States while waiting for the world’s borders to open back up to Americans.
And the world is starting to realize that we don’t all have to sit behind a desk for eight hours per day, five days per week to be productive. I have friends whose companies have already made the decision to let their employees work remotely at least part of the time. From there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to being a true digital nomad.
Entire countries are embracing the location independent movement. Estonia, Georgia and Barbados have all recently introduced digital nomad visas. As more and more companies and countries remove obstacles to working remotely, we’ll see a surge in digital nomads who want to enjoy a location independent lifestyle.
Come on in, the water’s fine.
Websites where you can find remote work:
About the author:
Beth Hoke rejoined the expat life after spending her childhood in Europe and the United States, then settling in Chicagoland to raise two daughters.
Now an empty nester, she is roaming Europe, armed with a TEFL certificate and an online position teaching English.
Beth has been traveling around Europe for more than three years. She’s filed posts for Dispatches Europe from at least seven countries including France, Italy, Germany, Serbia, Croatia, Turkey, and Portugal. And now the United States.