Digital Nomads: The Bright Side

The Big Picture 4/8: Why it’s worth considering and what impact it can have on your life.

Marc Knaup
Oct 31 · 10 min read

You’ve spent a lot of time in making the city you’re living in your home. Why would you ever decide to leave that behind? This article explores the positive impact living and working abroad can have on your life.

The Big Picture

You’ll decide where you live and when you move

As a location independent remote worker, it’s all up to you. You decide where you live. You decide where you work. You decide when you move.

You can go on a quest to figure out what is important to you and find the right environment for it.

Cities and regions differ in many ways, so there is a lot to consider when deciding on one. It will take you some time to figure out what factors are essential to you. You’ll also have to visit and experience places to find out how they rank on your personal satisfaction scale.

Here are some of the factors you’ll consider over time:

  • Climate
  • Cost of living
  • Internet speed
  • Food
  • Fitness & sports opportunities
  • Quality of accommodation
  • Existing communities & related offerings (personal & professional)
  • Population density
  • Vegetation (from a blank city to a green oasis)
  • Geographical features (ocean, beaches, lakes, mountains, etc.)
  • Culture & mindset of people
  • Traffic, walkability & means of transportation
  • Air & noise pollution
  • Safety, tolerance & openness

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

— Neale Donald Walsch

You’ll explore cities and cultures more thoroughly

Tourists rarely visit a city for more than two weeks at a time. They often stay at their hotels or resorts and spend their time in tourist-centric places.

As a Digital Nomad, you can stay for a much longer time. You can explore the city slowly and thoroughly. You can live next to the locals and will start to see the city through their eyes. You can make friends with them. You can discover aspects of a city that tourists rarely stumble upon.

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

— Confucius

Your travels will lead you to a wide variety of cities and countries. Once you can’t find something in a foreign city, you’ll realize that you may have taken something for granted elsewhere. Conversely, you’ll realize what’s possible once you experience it for the first time in a foreign city. You’ll also start to understand what makes each place truly unique.

You can find communities that resonate with you

Every person has a unique set of interests, and different cities cater to them better or worse. The chances are that you won’t find many surfers in Chicago or many pianists in Bali.

You’ll keep an eye open to find those cities where you can fully engage in your interests. Being part of a community that shares yours can be incredibly motivating, fun, and reassuring. Over time you can adjust your travels to spend more time in such cities.

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

— Jim Rohn

You can explore new activities

As you’ll travel to new places and meet new people, you’ll learn more about a wide variety of activities. Some of these, like diving or surfing, require a specific environment.

You can try out activities that are popular in each place, and since you’ll stay longer than a tourist, you’ve got time to explore them in more depth.

Just kidding. Photo by Peter Fazekas from Pexels

Don’t hesitate to try out something new, even if you struggle with it at first. You’re in a new environment and won’t know the people judging you anyway.

If you never want to be criticized, for goodness’ sake don’t do anything new.

— Jeff Bezos

You’ll experience many unique moments

You’ll pay more attention, and you’ll be more aware of yourself and your surroundings.

Maybe it’s because you’ll be on your own more often. Maybe it’s because you’ll disrupt strong routines and no longer run on autopilot. Maybe it’s because you’ll be exposed to a wide variety of new impressions.

Sunset over Lisbon, Portugal

New places, new people, and new thinking can bring you many memorable moments, such as:

  • A fresh breeze from the sea at night.
  • A lovely hidden street café.
  • An amazing piece of street art.
  • The view beyond your laptop.
  • A random deep discussion.
  • Something unique to the local culture.
  • A fascinating place you’ve found by aimlessly walking around.
  • An animal you’ve never seen before.
  • The deep calm of a place.
  • The buzzing positive atmosphere around you.
  • The sunset.
  • The moon — it seems to follow you everywhere.
  • The unexpected, but amazing view from a random location.
  • The pre-flight excitement at the airport.
  • The post-flight excitement when finally seeing a new city.
  • Increased self-awareness — especially while in transit.
  • The appreciation of what you’ve learned and experienced so far.

I would rather die of passion than of boredom.

— Émile Zola, Vincent Van Gogh

You can have a healthier life

The freedom to choose your location allows you to put more focus on yourself and your wellbeing:

  • You can live in places where serving fresh fruits and vegetables is the norm rather than the exception.
  • You can stay close to a gym or similar places that make it easier to form a good fitness habit.
  • You can stay in a city that is walkable and explore it on foot. Or by cycling.
  • You can make your favorite holiday sport an everyday routine.
  • You can get more sun and daylight.
  • You can stay in quiet neighborhoods for deeper and more refreshing sleep.
  • You can get medical checkups and treatment in places that are more specialized and affordable.
  • You can stay in places where people share your vibe, interests, and values.
  • You can stay around people that have a positive impact on your routines and behavior.
  • You can work on uncovering your true self — who you are and what you love doing.

The most common form of despair is not being who you are.

— Søren Kierkegaard

You’ll be in control of discovering and living in the best places for a healthy body and mind.

You’ll become more minimalistic

Frequent relocation can disrupt consumerism through the constraints that it imposes. You likely won’t buy a fourth pair of shoes knowing that you always have to carry them all with you. You won’t buy a new home theater system as you’ll move to a new place anyway. There’s no more need to spend money on never-ending home improvement.

If you want to live an exceptional and extraordinary life, you have to give up many of the things that are part of a normal one.

— Srinivas Rao

You’ll likely travel with a backpack and may also have a suitcase. In any case, the capacity will be severely limited compared to your apartment or house.

You’ll get in the habit of carefully evaluating what purchase will bring you good value and is really needed. It can extend beyond just physical possessions, and make you think more deliberately about your finances in general.

You can reduce your daily expenses

In some countries, the cost of living can be significantly lower than where you live now. Southeast Asia and South America are typical examples and destinations for many Digital Nomads.

Over time, you’ll learn what cities give you the best value for a good price.

You can make better use of your money

Money that you won’t have to spend anymore can serve other purposes:

  • Traveling (you actually need to get from one city to the next)
  • Experiences (exciting activities that give you lasting memories)
  • Saving & investing (work towards financial independence)
  • Side-projects (fun, learn new skills, maybe find a new source of income)
  • Luxury (villa in Bali, eating out every day, lots of trips, high-quality items)
  • Good causes (help local communities & other causes, offset your CO2)
  • More free time (work and earn less instead of spending more)

Just remember to stay on top of your finances and beware of lifestyle creep.

You’ll grow personally

By living in a new place, you’ll already have left your comfort zone — great. Frequent travel will hone your problem-solving skills, as you’ll always have to adjust to a new environment.

Basic tasks like grocery shopping, getting around, or finding a good doctor will become recurring challenges. The preparation of your next relocation will require time for consideration and planning.

In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or back into safety.

— Abraham Maslow

A good environment will also have a positive influence on your everyday life and behavior.

Living in foreign places can change some of your priorities, for example:

  • You may care about aspects of your life that you’ve neglected before.
  • You may manage your finances and think about money differently.
  • You may think more about your future and how to prepare for it.

You’ll grow professionally

You’ll already grow professionally by growing personally.

Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development because success is something you attract by the person you become.

— Jim Rohn

You’ll also engage in discussions with people from all over the world. They’ll share their perspectives, values, and skills with you. Some of them speak very openly about their businesses and professions. They want to improve their skills and grow their businesses. They want to share what excites them, what they’ve learned, and what they’ve built.

Ideally, everyone meets new customers or business partners in the process. It’s also networking, but in a much more personal way, where the boundaries between work and life become blurred.

You’ll also learn a lot about how to do work remote effectively. It’s not the same as working in an office. You’ll need a different mindset, different tools, and different processes.

You can spur your creativity and productivity

As you tackle new challenges and learn new things, you’ll come up with new ideas, new solutions, and gain new knowledge. All of that will make you think more diversely, which is an important aspect of creativity.

Changing your workplace can boost your motivation. Working in daylight with a view into nature is quite refreshing compared to a closed office room. Over time, you’ll figure out what kind of environment spurs your motivation the most.

You’ll have the benefits of remote work

As a Digital Nomad, you’ll work remote, and that has its own benefits:

  • You’ll spend less time commuting.
  • You’ll be out of the typical office environment.
  • You’ll have fewer meetings, yay!
  • You’ll have more control over your time.
  • You can integrate work and life more deeply and in a way that works best for you.

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.

— George Bernard Shaw

You can support local economies

Most of the money coming from typical tourism will end up outside of the country, and thus, not contribute to the local economy.

As a Digital Nomad, you’ll act much less like a tourist. You’ll have different needs, and more time to explore the local offerings. That will allow you to spend money where it benefits local businesses. Even if a business is not owned by locals, you can still support them by tipping generously. Both will support regional development and improve the lives of everyone around.

Money is not the only way to support local economies. Everywhere around the world, you’ll have the opportunity to share your skills with locals or contribute your time to local development projects.

You can help locals improve their skills so that they can grow themselves, their businesses, or even start working remotely too. If you’re good at social marketing, for example, a local tour guide could benefit from your advice to get their business more visible to foreigners.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Conclusion

By making use of location independence, you’ll have much more freedom in shaping your life around what’s most important to you. Being open to the world will lead you to many places, discoveries, and opportunities.

What you’ll experience and learn will make you grow personally and professionally. Over time you’ll find the places that you truly resonate with and love to call home.

As a Digital Nomad, exploring the world will become part of your daily life. You’ll reflect on yourself, life, work, and the places you’ll live. You’ll focus on what is truly important to you and will learn where to find it.


As with everything in life, there are two sides to living like a Digital Nomad. Let’s dive into the downsides next so you know what to expect and consider.

Continue reading in Part 5: The Dark Side.

Marc Knaup

Written by

❤️ building things, breaking things, writing software, discovering electronic music, living everywhere, and learning about life — knaup.io

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