Feb 252010

When I left my job as a video game programmer in Japan in late 2007, I never actually had the specific intention of becoming a long-term freelance programmer. Nor did I have some grand scheme for country-hopping to different parts of the world every month of the year. Truth be told, I didn’t even know what I’d be doing beyond a short trip to Brazil I’d scheduled for the following February.

It didn’t take me long, though, to learn just how rewarding – and how easy – a mobile lifestyle can be. A lifestyle with total freedom and constant adventure. Especially after a solid year of fixed hours and following orders under rows humming fluorescent lights, it probably isn’t hard to understand why the prospect sitting on a tropical beach with a laptop, learning a new language, witnessing a new culture, and partying in a new city anytime I wanted was a damn attractive alternative.

Yet because my new lifestyle had unfolded not as a plan but as an evolution, I’d never really gave it that much deliberate thought. In fact, I never even knew there was a name for it. Until just a couple months ago, when a friend sent me a link to an interesting article. The article is titled “Is digital nomad living going mainstream?“, and discusses this recent phenomenon of young professionals selling their possessions, packing their bags, and opting for a life on the road.

Digital Nomad. “What an interesting term,” I thought. I’d somewhat arbitrarily titled this blog Life of a Traveling Programmer*…but Digital Nomad has such a nice ring to it. So I gave it a Google. And I was floored.

Apparently Digital Nomads really are a booming phenomenon, as more and more of the world turns to high-tech and more jobs can be performed remotely. As a result, all kinds of creative services are popping up to facilitate just this kind of lifestyle – along with blogs, magazines, news articles, and live interviews – all aimed at ways to digitally link a person in one place with a job in another.

Below are links to some of the more interesting resources I’ve found on the subject.

*Note: Life of a Traveling Programmer is actually the second title I’ve used for this blog; for the first year, when I was a student in Japan, I called it Adventures in Kyoto.

While We Worked At Our Desks, He Worked On All 7 Continents – with Kareem Mayan – An in-depth video interview with one Digital Nomad conducted by another, with all kinds of useful tips (long).

How’s The Wifi – Be a Digital Nomad and Work Anywhere in the World, Kareem Mayan’s personal blog.

CocoVivo – A rustic tropical island retreat for location-independent knowledge workers. An engineer from San Francisco who fell in love with a plot of rainforest in Panama, bought it, and setup his own retreat for Digital Nomad outdoor enthusiasts. The location is far too remote for my own personal tastes, but I still thought the idea was pretty cool. He even setup his own high-speed internet relay from the nearest town.

Justin Wright – Exploring Life after the Cubicle – The blog of another Digital Nomad named Justin!

NerdNomad, a software developer who bought an RV and works from the road. This is a bit different from my concept of “International Living,” but could develop into an interesting read. Not too many posts yet as he’s just gotten started.

Chris Guillebeau – The Art of Non-Conformity, a digital nomad entrepreneur who’s made his entire living by blogging and writing ebooks about it. Reminds me a bit of Timothy Ferriss…

Tim Ferriss is probably the most famous “digital nomad”, although I debated omitting him from this list because his concept is really more about promoting his self-help materials than mobile living. Still, his core concept is “escape the usual grind and live a life of freedom,” which I suppose is at what Digital Nomad…ery… is all about πŸ™‚

Late Additions:

Tynan.net, a digital nomad and PUA.

  9 Responses to “Digital Nomads: A New Lifestyle?”

  1. Sounds like a dream….travel, party, new adventure

  2. …and people wonder why we embrace this lifestyle…

  3. thanks for the shout out, justin!

  4. You were a nomad and you didn’t even know it :p yeah this lifestyle has become the norm for me and a lot of people I know. It just doesn’t make sense to operate in a geographically limited mindset anymore. Half my closest friends ad people who hire me lose track of what country I’m even in…. because it barely matters and we keep in touch regardless. Our children’s generation will look back and think it’s so crazy how people used to have to live in a certain city and physically go into an office every day.

  5. Andy: Sometimes, haha. Not when you’re in a super-expensive city and dirt poor though πŸ˜›

    P: Only those who’ve never experienced it πŸ˜‰

    Kareem: Right back atcha!

    Alanna: What are you doing these days anyway? From what I can tell freelance Japanese translating in Europe? How do you deal with the visa issue over there?

    Re: how crazy people are to live in a certain city and physically go to an office every day – I could not agree with you more. Shockingly, even in today’s world only a small percentage of people seem to “get it.” But that’s changing…liiittle by little πŸ™‚

  6. It IS a fantastic way to live and growing by leaps and bounds in popularity. Don’t forget FAMILIES! It’s an amazing way to live as a family and the best possible education for 21st century global students.

    We have been a digital nomad family traveling the world non-stop since 2006 and featured as a case study in the 4HWW as well as Chris G’s book soon to come. 4 continents, 32 countries, & 175,000 miles ( most overland) so far, & we see no end in sight as it is an ideal way to truly live.

    We live large on just 23 dollars a day per person, even though much of our travel has thus far been in “expensive” Europe. Now that our child is totally fluent in Spanish language & literature ,we will head to Asia this fall to immerse her deeply in her Mandarin Chinese while we tour.

    No doubt, the wave of the future is here!

  7. Wow, a whole family – that’s amazing! I can’t imagine how you’ve managed $23 a day, though I suppose the cost of lodging becomes FAR cheaper if you’re splitting it four ways…plus you’re obviously not spending near as much as me on nightclubs and beers, one of my large expenses when I travel, hehe πŸ™‚

    I’m in the midst of planning a trip through Europe myself. It’s certainly waaaaaayyyy more expensive than Asia, but I’ve been surprised at how cheaply you can get around if you just plan in advance (i.e. a bus from Amsterdam to Paris for like 25euro!) Too bad I’m doing it last minute and thus am paying double/triple πŸ˜›

  8. Wow it’s a great. I never imagine about it. It’s a great way to live. Thanks for sharing this great experience.

  9. It IS a fantastic way to live and growing by leaps and bounds in popularity. Don’t forget FAMILIES!

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