“Man started out as nomadic — it may be the most natural state for human beings.” — Craig O. McCaw

Daily life hasn’t changed much for us

Digital nomads already worked remotely before the pandemic started, and most of us are self-employed. That means we don’t commute, we don’t depend on a paycheck, and we spend a lot of time self-isolating with our laptops. While everyone has been negatively affected in some way by the pandemic, location-independent freelancers and entrepreneurs haven’t been hit as hard as brick-and-mortar businesses. We may live on Earth, but we work in the cloud. We’re rarely in the same place as our friends and family, and we’ve never met our co-workers, contractors, customers, or suppliers. We don’t lease office space, own homes, or have payroll expenses to meet, so our financial stress is also less (more on that later).

Familiar with uncertainty and discomfort

For digital nomads, the only constant is change. Our income is always fluctuating, and we’re used to things going wrong (very wrong). We know that little ever goes as planned, and have learned to expect the unexpected. Whether it’s losing clients, getting stranded at airports, contracting malaria, or surviving a tsunami, living through a pandemic is par for the course. We’ve witnessed plenty of suffering and poverty throughout our travels, and we’re just grateful to be here and to be alive.

Minimalist lifestyle and low cost-of-living

Digital nomads are known for bootstrapping online businesses, and these skills carry over well into hacking our living expenses. We’re fluent in subsisting on $500-1,000/month, so cutting back on our already low overhead is not a problem. We don’t own cars, rent offices, or pay mortgages. We hire independent contractors rather than salaried employees. We live out of suitcases and have little use for Amazon Prime accounts. We spend more of our money on experiences than material things, and we don’t buy anything we can’t carry with us.

Multiple revenue streams

Like an open relationship, the answer to what a digital nomad does for a living is complicated. Out of necessity, we’ve spun intricate webs of diversified income sources, ranging from a few cents to thousands of dollars per month. We live in constant paranoia that our income could disappear overnight — because it’s happened many times before.

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Global Digital Nomad Network

Personal identity not tied to a job or company

All else held constant, being part of strong company culture can be a beautiful thing. But most digital nomads are fending for ourselves without any specific job title to speak of. When coronavirus hit, few of us had full-time jobs to lose. Because of this, we haven’t felt the pain of being separated from colleagues or severed from long-held career identities. As independent workers and world citizens, we’ve developed a sense of self over time that is independent of where we live or what we do.

Comfortable using remote collaboration tools

While many people and companies have been struggling to work across time zones and change their Zoom backgrounds, digital nomads are fluent in using remote work tools. All of our customers, clients, suppliers, colleagues, partners, supervisors, investors, and other people we work with are remote. In most cases, we’ve never met anyone we work with face to face.

Pre-existing focus on mindset and mental health

Living an alternative lifestyle requires a certain risk tolerance and a sense of personal accountability and responsibility. Digital nomads recognize that taking care of ourselves is crucial to sustaining our businesses and productivity levels long-term. As such, we spend a lot of time learning how to cultivate a positive mindset and self-motivate while working from home. Achieving this goal involves some form of reading, journaling, meditation, or gratitude practice. As a result, we tend to naturally limit our exposure to negative inputs, such as the mainstream news cycle.

The Paradox of Loneliness in the Digital Nomad Lifestyle

It was an hour into the ferry crossing from Santorini to Athens, Greece. But I couldn’t peel myself away from the back…


Less familial pressures at home

The majority of digital nomads are single without kids, which (don’t get me wrong) has its pros and cons. While some of us are single by choice, others struggle for years to find compatible partners.

Part of a global community

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Photo: Kristin Wilson / Traveling with Kristin


Being a digital nomad isn’t just about traveling — it’s about having the freedom to live and work on your own terms. The coronavirus crisis and subsequent economic collapse have proven that the old paradigm doesn’t work anymore. The shift to remote work that was inevitable over the upcoming decades happened faster than anyone expected. This crisis will transform the world in ways that we don’t understand yet. But one thing is for sure. The way to prepare for inevitable uncertainty is by becoming self-reliant to some extent within the context of the collective human race, and broadening your ability to support yourself.