What is a digital nomad anyways?

It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. That’s because it is often an escape from the real world, rather than an embracing of a more inclusive, expansive, multi-jurisdictional, multicultural, and diverse standard of living. It can be treated as a method and manner of leaving something, rather than arriving at anything. Let me explain. From my limited view, which is a perfectly appropriate perspective to comment from in this context, it makes financial sense to move from a premium cost center (Canada) to… just about any country which would be less costly. Save some European countries and American cities. However, this is a biased view. There are small places within Canada where the cost of living is minuscule compared to the city centers. It depends what you want to give up, the cultural and social lifestyle, and how much work you want to do to self-sustain. A home can be purchased for USD$30K in Canada, with free well water and a solar panel. Welcome home. But there is no artisanal coffee shop with WiFi on every block, no night clubs, good restaurants, public transportation, or medical care. You might not even enjoy as many conveniences as the average “third-world” country can provide, including cheap high-speed internet. So being nomadic and leaving your birth country is not really the issue - it is imperative to define what services, facilities, comforts, and social infrastructure you desire to participate in and co-operate within. In other words, where you want to arrive - happily. There are limitations regarding where you can go and live for longer terms, residency considerations from legal and taxation perspectives, and burnout from the constraints of always moving around. Loneliness and isolation, among other mental health challenges such as addiction, can crop up or follow you wherever you go, so nomadic life is no escape. Social skills, tolerance, open-mindedness, and a constantly renewed practice of resilience building are going to be necessary in my journey. Learning, not assuming or taking my native country’s conventions for granted, and adapting to the way others live will be a challenging and necessary set of growth points to embrace, not merely endure. The expanded responsibility of doing business in multiple continents and countries is not lost on me. It would be much easier to do a 9-5 where I was born, and call it a day. But that’s not living. A recent experience leaving my home city and living in another province in Canada without any of the typical comforts to which I was accustomed taught me that life has a way of adapting and people can grow better, even when sometimes the rug gets pulled out and adversity pushes us to our mental and emotional limits. I still wouldn’t trade the hardest experiences of my life for blind comfort, and I know that the majority of them may lay ahead - not behind me still. I get the sense, in my initial steps as ‘nomadic’ or an ‘international citizen’, that the experience will not be anything like what I expect - and that’s a good thing. There is a vast social network of insights and documented steps that others have and are taking before me, and I will learn to walk as they have in a world that demands more of me than merely staying home and doing the bare minimum to experience the world from an armchair or cushy computer desk chair. While I am young and have the requisite energy, and just enough wisdom and hindsight (and a like minded life partner) is when I choose to change some things for the better. I am embracing some opportunities that I would never encounter or even find awareness within, if I stayed…put. Plus, food tastes better in almost every other place than North America. But I digress. Let’s dispense with the term ‘digital’ for a moment, because I feel that pigeon-holes potential freedom-loving people as software developers, content creators, or digital marketing experts. There is no reason why a specific career in technology is required to become nomadic or live in a different country! So many occupations rely on - and/or only require - a digital connection to the world, rather than routine physical presence in a location on a schedule. Trends lately have accelerated this tendency, with video conferencing, digital signatures, and international banking becoming further accepted conventions in personal and business affairs. Some people have richer social lives among people they have never physically met (yet!) than they do with family or friends in a mutual locality. Business can and should be considered in an international context in 2023, because expanding territories and sourcing quality talent are some worthy benefits of globalism, leveling the playing field and tearing down walls of inequality that have led to classism and ‘first-world’ isolationism. As we reduce the confines of self-protection, and are even willing to give up some of the privileges we are born into in North America, we creatively share solutions and our human caring and effort, in service to others, and in solving some of the common problems found in the rest of the world. And have a much more fun time doing it as well. The socio-political constructs and ‘best nation in the world’ narratives are extremely boring and mentally harmful, anyways. Not sure if you agree with me there, but some humility and learning to live through the lens of different people can be very liberating and spiritually beneficial. Not to mention the freedom - the lack of commitment to a particular venue, home, city, country, or environment. Notwithstanding business requirements and tax-residency, which need to be responsibly managed, we can be more honest about what we want to experience and what is fulfilling us when we are not tied to an assumption of where we will be in 5 years. Having that freedom allows us to capitalize on creative opportunities, business prospects, travel more freely, see the world when we are young, and solve problems with diverse people, leading to better satisfaction in daily life. It may even cost less, leading to a more lucrative future, because most countries of the world have a lower cost of living than the popular cities in North America and Europe. But, the individual choice of how to consume, how to earn, how to spend, how to invest, how to eat, and how to save, are paramount. That’s a fact of life no matter where your body resides. In fact, finding a better place in the world may not involve endless traveling! Some may find periods of time where they want to settle in and slow down in a particular environment, to really connect with the local culture, invest in property, or build family ties. There are no rules, except the characteristics of a freed mind that gives permission to leave the comforts of things taken for granted. And that is the first step that leads to a million others. Far and wide, the nature of the journey is up to you. Nomadic life is about options and taking chances to expand one’s perspective, not escaping the mundane of one’s own making. They say your problems follow you wherever you go, and there is no Geographical Solution - no country or society is perfect, because we are communities made of imperfect people with much work yet to be done. The secret is finding one’s niche and spaces in which to do that work with the others that will matter most in our lives. Here’s to you finding your kin in the world at large, and loving it.