Why Digital Nomads Are Slowing Down and Building Home Bases Abroad
Why Digital Nomads Are Slowing Down and Building Home Bases Abroad – The prospect of living and working wherever the wind takes you is a magnetic draw for those that have caught the travel bug. Even after a trip abroad ends, there is little time before we start dreaming of our next trip abroad. Finding a way to make a life out of travel drives many expats and digital nomads.
“Digital nomad” is a phrase that can be used to describe all sorts of people that have combined living abroad with traveling. They typically work remotely or have a passive income that supports the frequent moving. They stay in various countries until their tourist visa or visa-free period runs out, and then they move on to the next destination.
However, traveling constantly can be a very difficult and exhausting lifestyle for some to continue indefinitely. Beyond becoming quite expensive, the digital nomad lifestyle is logistically challenging. Even if moving between places with very few personal items, all digital nomads have to contend with the laws and regulations of many different countries, working with several different currencies, and likely having to have a basic understanding of many different languages. For these reasons, many digital nomads have looked for ways to create some sense of stability in their busy lives without compromising on their exciting lifestyles.
Living Abroad is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
When most new digital nomads first hear about the possibility of traveling the world while working, they become fascinated with all the places they can finally check off of their bucket lists. They may scroll through social media, read blogs, watch videos, or ask friends to get inspired and develop a list of places to visit across the globe.
As a result, many new nomads try to travel to as many cities or countries as possible in those first few months to see as much as they can. This eagerness to get started can quickly fizzle out as traveling becomes an exhausting chore of moving from one place to the next every few days or weeks. Many people find that moving so frequently does not provide them with enough time to see and experience everything they want to in a given place, let alone balance the travel with enough time working to make a sustainable income.
After my study abroad in Bosnia and Herzegovina back in 2010, I spent the last two weeks traveling around the region. In just 14 days, I went to 8 different cities in 6 different countries. I saw a lot during that whirlwind tour, but I didn’t really get a genuine feel for any of the cities beyond checking off the superficial tourist sites.
Similarly, Expat Empire’s founder David McNeill went to 19 cities in 10 European countries in just two months. He figured he needed to see all of the cities in his bucket list in a single trip but ultimately left the experience with a blurred memory of each of the locations.
Ultimately, this kind of adventurousness and speed definitely does not match well with trying to keep up a working lifestyle. We’ll describe some of the challenges of maintaining the digital nomad lifestyle in the next section.
Reasons for Slowing Down and Taking In the Atmosphere
After some time as a digital nomad, many people decide to slow down and spend some more quality time in each place. Below are several reasons that digital nomads start to change locations less frequently as time goes on.
It’s incredibly difficult to explore a new location while also trying to keep on top of your work. Once you factor in an average night’s sleep, a full day’s work, and other daily necessities, you’re only left with a few hours to check out your surroundings. Add the time it takes to move between cities into this equation, and there’s even less time available for enjoying yourself. If you’re always planning for your next flight, bus, or train, travel can quickly start to feel like a chore instead of the pleasurable, enriching, and educational experience that it should be.
Always on the Move
Keeping a frequent travel schedule will require spending lots of time in transit and searching for new places to stay. Making and keeping friends becomes even harder. Digital nomads may meet lots of new faces, but long-lasting friendships tend to be much more difficult to develop if they or the people they’re meeting are leaving every few days. Just when you feel like you’re getting into a rhythm, you have to pick up your things and start all over again.
Narrowing Down the List
As you experience life in more places, you’ll have a better sense of exactly what you’re looking for in a destination. Once you’ve really connected with a place, you might find that you want to spend a longer period of time there rather than pushing onwards to the next destination on your list.
Long-term digital nomads will likely have experienced all of these challenges in some form during their journeys and may eventually grow tired of living out of a backpack. Instead of giving up and going back to their home countries, there are other options they can pursue abroad to achieve a good balance between maintaining the joy of traveling and dealing with the difficulties of living abroad.
The Advantages of Building A Home Base Abroad
Why Digital Nomads Are Slowing Down and Building Home Bases Abroad – A great strategy for living abroad as a digital nomad is to use one country as a home base. Digital nomads can do this by getting a long-term residence permit in a foreign country and living there for 6+ months out of the year while spending the other months traveling to other countries in a more nomadic fashion. This can help nomads to have a place to call home in foreign countries while still enabling them to travel for a large part of the year as they wish. Some of the main benefits of utilizing this strategy are listed below.
Growing Your Business
For entrepreneurial digital nomads especially, this strategy will be a smart move in the long term. All of the daily stresses that come with traveling make it near impossible to focus your attention on scaling a business. Constantly moving around also means taking a risk when it comes to having a reliable internet connection and the right desk setup to get work done. When you always have another move coming around the corner, it can be a challenge to get in the right headspace and do the strategic work you need to push your business forward, so many entrepreneurs will appreciate being able to stay in one place to focus on their work.
Keeping Personal Items
It’s really tough to carry any sort of personal items while you travel, unless they’re pocket-sized. This fact can lead nomads to eventually want to have a place to call their own. Rather than keeping your photo albums and priceless mementos packed into boxes and held in a storage unit somewhere, having a home base abroad will give you a safe place to leave your things and a wonderful spot to look forward to returning to following being on the road for weeks or months. After staying in countless Airbnbs, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of sleeping in your own bed again!
Waiting Out the Storm
As the COVID-19 pandemic showed many of us, it’s easy to get stranded somewhere you don’t want to be or even locked out of your country for an extended period. In the case that another world event happens that makes travel difficult, if not impossible, it’s better to have a place outside of your home country that you’ll be happy to return to rather than being forced to go back to your home country. Having more options and plan B’s in your back pocket is always a good idea to protect your ideal lifestyle in the face of unexpected events.
Securing the Future
In order to develop some additional long-term plan B options, many digital nomads create a home base in another country with the goal of obtaining permanent residence or even dual citizenship. As a digital nomad relying on tourist visas, you likely won’t be able to use your time in each country towards acquiring additional citizenships and passports. However, if you receive a residence permit in a country, then you may have the opportunity to apply for permanent residence or dual citizenship after a few years in the country. More than anything, these opportunities provide adventurous nomads with the peace of mind that they’ll be able to live abroad for the foreseeable future.
How We Can Help You Achieve the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Setting up a lifestyle abroad is a process that has a ton of moving parts, unexpected challenges, fluid regulations, and many questions. Expat Empire can help you to understand and think through all of them! We offer personalized consulting services, such as our Timeline Planning and Remote Work Roadmap services. We have also created a collection of our services specifically for those that want to combine work and travel: our Digital Nomad Premium Package. Beyond our consulting services and blog posts, we also have bi-weekly podcasts featuring expats around the world and some educational courses offering a comprehensive look at expat life. Before you take any steps in your move abroad, be sure to sign up for our Free Consulting Call so we can discuss together how to make your transition into nomad life.