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Goodbye, America. I'm becoming a nomad (again)!

Mike Elgan | March 15, 2016
I've been trying to escape the surly bonds of sedentary living for a decade.

I want you to join me. But before I make that pitch, first let me clarify what living nomadically is really all about.

It's not "travel" per se, and it's definitely not a vacation.

Our standard policy is to choose a specific city or town and live there for two or three months. We often use AirBnB to book the accommodations. (AirBnB is now operating in 190 countries.) We look for the fastest Internet connection we can find, plus we try to live within walking distance of the city's best food markets.

Once we arrive, we live like "temporary locals." We shop at the store, cook our own meals, do dishes and laundry and all the other things people do. We even get a local gym membership, when possible. We get to know the neighbors and the people who work at the markets and shops.

People who imagine nomadic living is an endless vacation will be disappointed to learn that I spend most of my time working, typically putting in more than 60 hours a week.

As nomads, we do experience the local culture while on breaks from work, or in the evening or days off. Over the period of, say, three months, we squeeze in the amount of sightseeing that a tourist might do in a week or two. But nomads enjoy something that tourists do not -- we truly understand what it's like to live in a place, and to sometimes make lifelong friends all over the world.

Why now is the best time ever to go nomad

I first wrote about the digital nomad lifestyle exactly 9 years ago this week. I also started a weekly digital nomad blog on the Computerworld.com site called, "The World Is My Office." I tried in this space to define what a "digital nomad" is. I also tried to puncture the insipid fluff and hype around nomad lifestyles promulgated by almost all the digital nomad blogs by telling it like it is. (Most digital nomad blogs portray the lifestyle as blogging on deserted beach in Thailand, which it is not.)

When I wrote about the nomad lifestyle in the past, it was an obscure, exotic and seemingly unlikely way to live. But in the past two years, the "digital nomad" phrase and idea has become -- dare I say it? -- mainstream!

No, most people still aren't living nomadically. But the movement has grown, and cultural awareness about it has taken off.

And why not? After the great recession, changes in workplace norms, the increasing digitization of communication and work and other trends, it makes sense to work remotely -- the remoter, the better.

 

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