Digital Nomads Are Not the Future
Lifestyle entrepreneurs ignore communities at home and abroad
In an era of increasingly precarious jobs, ever-longer working hours, and declining social mobility, it’s no surprise that digital nomads are gaining a sizable following. Office dwellers lack happiness or hope in the daily grind. They know there must be something better. After enough time spent in an office chair, it’s easy to aspire to become one of those people with a MacBook on a beach in a foreign locale.
The appeal is obvious. Digital nomads present selective pieces of themselves on Instagram, YouTube, and personal blogs. Everything they do is alluring. If you only looked at social media, you’d think they were paid to chill on the beach. Of course, those looking to replicate their lifestyle only see what digital nomads want them to see. Who doesn’t want to show their most appealing self online?
But selective presentation covers up — or completely ignores — the less appealing aspects of calling your MacBook your office. Many digital nomads had significant privilege before pursuing such a lifestyle, privilege that allows them to avoid the potentially negative aspects of location independence.
How Do Digital Nomads Live?
It’s not as easy as digital gurus make it look. Building a location-independent business is incredibly difficult, and often, digital nomads have professional jobs that pay above-average incomes. These are the kinds of jobs most people dream of having — the kinds of jobs they can leverage to make the move to location independence.
1. Transforming an existing career
The increasingly digital nature of everyday employment makes it easy for some to dislodge their careers from the office. Creative careers, including writing and various design fields, rarely require the creative to be close to their clients — if there’s a client at all.
Technical jobs, such as programming and software development, have a similar advantage. Employees can submit their work digitally and connect with coworkers via Skype, Slack, and email. There are a growing number of tech startups that promote remote work, presumably because it reduces costs by not…