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The rise of digital nomads

The rise of digital nomads has already begun, with more than four million Britons now working nomadically around the world. And it’s not just Britons; A Gallup survey from the New York Times found that nearly half of employed Americans spent at least some time working remotely in 2016.

Traditional workplaces are catching up with the digital age and new technology has allowed nomadic workers to succeed across a variety of industries and sectors.

What’s a digital nomad?

While there isn’t an official definition, a digital nomad is essentially anyone that utilises technology to work remotely around the world – usually for a sustained period of time.

While working remotely and being a digital nomad aren’t exactly the same thing, the two largely overlap. The amount of full-time digital nomads is increasing, while being a part-time nomad or remote worker has become the norm.

Who they are

The worldwide community of digital nomads is made up of people from all backgrounds, professions and ages. In general, millennials make up a large proportion of digital nomads and embrace opportunities to work location independent. In fact, we’ve seen a significant increase in young people enroling on our worldwide health plans, designed for digital nomads, over the last five years.

But how do people become digital nomads and what challenges do they face?

Finding a role

For many, the biggest challenge to living nomadically is finding a location-independent job. The majority of digital nomads are freelancers or small business owners – careers that already offer some flexibility. For instance, it’s very common to see photographers, writers and bloggers working nomadically around the world.

However, more and more traditional industries like finance, education and technology are also offering staff the choice to work remotely, as the costs of offices rise and employees place increasing importance on travel over material benefits.

Finding your perfect nomadic role has never been easier, with many websites posting daily job roles that don’t require working from an office or hub. For instance, www.workingnomads.co/jobs is a great example of a job site that exclusively advertises for remote roles.

Become part of the community

Becoming a part of the expat and nomadic community is the next step to succeeding in living and working around the world. The global sharing economy has provided some fantastic tools to help expats navigate their unfamiliar surroundings, with online resources containing unlimited information and knowledge.

In addition, expat community websites, like Expat Exchange, provide useful and relevant information on all aspects of working abroad, from accommodation advice to immigration details. Most of the good expat sites also post member experiences and guides on working practices in different regions, to help you get started.

Keeping down the costs

Generally, digital nomads need to be mindful of their expenditure when living in different parts of the world, as costs from place-to-place vary so much.

As nomads aren’t confined to live in a specific region, it’s unsurprising that destinations with a low cost of living are so popular. Places like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hungary and Spain all feature highly as digital nomad hot spots, with low costs, good connectivity, co-working spaces and a nomad-friendly culture.

Protecting your work

Separate to the practical implications of working nomadically, there are also security issues to bear in mind. Working remotely does often make digital nomads reliant on public online infrastructures and wi-fi connections, which can be unsafe.

Regardless of the nature of the work, protecting data while working abroad really matters. While the ease of hostel and café wi-fi is fantastic, the amount of other people are accessing it can cause problems. Using Virtual Private Network (VPN) software can help to encrypt all the information that passes through your server; a must for those sharing client work or sensitive information.

Health without borders

Possibly the most important thing for a digital nomad to protect is their personal health and wellbeing. Traveling and working without a fixed address is rewarding and exciting, but can pose dangers, from drinking the wrong water to accessing medication.

All expats should ensure they have their healthcare sorted before taking any unnecessary risks abroad. Find a health plan that is comprehensive and designed specifically for digital nomads, to cover any medical expenses that may arise while working abroad.

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