Cody Mckibben of ThrillingHeroics.com and I have recently published a free ebook with 42 articles by digital nomads describing how their travel lifestyles have impacted them. Most of the contributors will likely agree that embarking on a location independent business was one of most difficult, yet rewarding decisions they’ve ever made.
Why I’m a Digital Nomad
Giving up my house, business and most of my possessions in Japan was a transformative experience. It has given me the freedom to do what I want, where I want. While I believe that excessive travel is highly destructive to the planet, I also feel that living in foreign countries can be immensely personally rewarding. I highly encourage everyone to move abroad. It will help question all of your cultural assumptions and expose you to a world that most people can’t even imagine.
Despite the fact that international governments are still years away from accommodating the rise of location independent entrepreneurs, this clearly is a mass movement that is only going to grow in the future. There are only a handful of forward thinking nations such as Germany, Vietnam, Thailand, Costa Rica, etc., that have visa rules that make it somewhat easy for travelling entrepreneurs to spend a reasonable amount of time in the country. Most nations are still extremely suspicious of long term travellers entering their borders. I’m sure this view of the world will take many years to change, but it definitely needs to adjust to the changing nature of work.
Why We Need More Digital Nomads
I chose the word “imperative” in the title, because I feel that we need more digital nomads in the world. There are the obvious economic benefits of working and living in a country with costs that can be a quarter of home. Living nomadically is an automatic constraint that keeps you from buying useless physical goods. If it doesn’t fit in your suitcase, you can’t take it with you. This is good for the wallet, but the real benefit is that it frees up so much of your time and thinking. It’s amazing how much time and energy is devoted to acquiring and maintaining stuff.
Also, the opportunity to hire talented and hardworking overseas staff at a fraction of the rate of western workers is just too compelling.
While costs are certainly important, there are bigger reasons to encourage location independent entrepreneurship. Increased global understanding through living and working in foreign countries, plus the deeper connections of international marriages, dating and friendships are bringing the entire planet closer together.
Reading about a country in the news takes on a completely different meaning when you have lived there and built friendships with locals. It’s very difficult to go to war with a country when you feel deep kinship and appreciation.
12 million children die of preventable diseases every year and there are tens of millions of permanent refugees without homes, food and work opportunities. On a planet of seven billion people, two billion still live on less than $2 per day. We could solve all of those problems with a minimum of sacrifice if the developed world were slightly more generous. For example, about 10% of the alcohol consumption in the US would be enough to provide clean drinking water for the billion without.
We need more digital nomads to increase international understanding of what life is really like around the planet. The cheap clothes we wear, the inexpensive food we eat and the gas-guzzling SUVs we drive have costs that are borne far from our oversized suburban houses and generic strip malls. The United States and Canada are only 5% of the world’s population, yet we consume 30% of the world’s resources and create about 30% of its trash and pollution. That’s not going to change unless we change. Living abroad is an essential component to that global awakening. The ebook offers some great insights into the lives of 42 digital nomads. I hope you enjoy it.