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I'm Mark Manson, Author, Blogger and Entrepreneur. AMA

 

by @markmanson | 6yr  | 40 comments

Hey everyone.

My name is Mark Manson and I’m a professional blogger. My site is MarkManson.net. Although over the years, I’ve run a variety of online businesses and projects.

I’ve been a digital nomad since the Fall of 2009, making it slightly more than five years for me. (You can read what I learned from five years of being a nomad <7>.) In that time I’ve been to almost 60 countries and learned two languages to near-fluency (Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese) as well as studying a handful of others.

I love the nomadic lifestyle, but I’ve also been one of the only ones (to my knowledge) who has openly written about the drawbacks and sacrifices involved.

My girlfriend is Brazilian and has been traveling on the road with me since last summer. I feel like relationships is the next frontier for this lifestyle and that’s probably something I’m uniquely able to comment on.

I guess that’s it. Ask away!

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@xiufensilver | 6yr

Thanks Mark for the AMA! Will update with an AMA summary soon!

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@nomademoiselle | 6yr

HI Mark (and everyone)

I am new to this forum and just subscribe to #nomads ,

Wow. I think this site will actually save my life. I am so desperate right now lol.
I am a digital nomad since 2012, originally from Montreal.
I having such a hard time trying to find people who have the same lifestyle then me… I feel misunderstood and even crazy sometime.
Right now, I am living a break-up due to the fact that I want to have a nomad lifestyle… I never met anyone who had the same goal as mine. I feel like it’s so difficult !

I’m glad to read that other people also consider this problem of relationship in the digital nomad lifestyle. I hope i will be able to find a solution while discussing on this forum !

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@yannik | 6yr

Hi Mark.

I just wanted to say: "Thank you!"
Nothing more and nothing less.

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@skatkov | 6yr

Good day, Mark.

I’m very sorry for my not so good English, but i hope i can make my question clear to you. :slight_smile:

I’m on a stage then i have enough money to sustain myself… and now i’m trying to move along to next stage. But couple of big questions still bother me on this stage

First one is more about friends and family. Before I was more concerned about getting new experiences with new people and acquiring friends (and learning how to do it), but nowadays… I realize better who my real friends there back in the days and try to reach out for them and create a communication channel with them. And it’s really hard to find common grounds with them nowadays, our experiences differ so much… and only 1.5 year has passed. Then I share my experience with them i hear in return something like ‘yeah, right. we believe you…’. It sounds that they don’t really know that to think … or don’t believe.

I would say, that i’m seing this huge gap between us and this gap becomes bigger from day to day. I felt the same even with my mother, only after she visited me and i had a chance to show and say ‘you remember i told you this? look, here it is’. Only after that our gap decreased.

Do you have any similar feelings? How do you manage with those?

Second question is somehow avoided in our community. Everyone knows relationship and nomadic life style doesn’t mix well. But sex drive is always there…

I’ve never had such problems back home, i’ve never used hookers… but nowadays i tend to use hookers more and more. Since it’s simple enough to silence my sex drive with them. Developing relationship at this stage feels like lying … i can’t really offer a proper relationship, but without any relationship I’m getting lost from time to time. I miss talking to someone about day to day life, someone who is here with me and has a second opinion on things.

What would be your recommendations regarding this? Should I try to avoid real relationship until I feel that i don’t need to sacrifice my goals for it? Or should I fall in to relationships and live a moment? Even if that could mean that i’m making a step back with my goals?

thanks,
Stanislav

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@markmanson | 6yr

You should be feeling a distance between some of your old friends just in terms of communication and things to relate about, but you should not be feeling a distance between yourself and them and how you feel about each other, your support for each other, etc. If you feel the empathy and support dwindling, then that means you’re either doing something to alienate them (bragging about all the cool shit you’re doing can do that) or they just weren’t that good of friends to begin with.

The ironic thing about real friends that being nomadic taught me, is that your real friends don’t give a shit what you do. You can climb the great wall of China or be a broke drug addict and it’s all the same to them. And that’s how it should be. It’s the same for family. Since I became nomadic, my dad and step-mom have had a real hard time dealing with it because I’m not following the typical 9-5 track. But my mom’s support has been unconditional. I could go get a desk job tomorrow and my mom’s relationship with me wouldn’t change one iota. But my dad’s would change completely. That says a lot about the relationship.

As for the hookers, I would avoid them. I’ve seen the “sex drive” explanation a lot and ultimately I think they hurt more than they help. They make you lazy and cynical towards women and intimacy. They objectify your sex life. And they remove much of that motivation that you could be using to go out and meet a nice girl.

You said you had no problem with girlfriends back home. So what’s the problem on the road? It sounds to me like you’re either not trying or there’s some kind of mental block. But you can absolutely date girls in different countries, some very easily.

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@skatkov | 6yr

I was grown in a family there telling truth was awarded and telling lies even in small cases was punished. So i grown up very strict guy who tells everything that he thinks even then i know that people don’t like it. It’s a bad and good thing, but i don’t want to change it - I’m really used to it.

So back home i didn’t had issues with relationships, because everything was pretty clear. I had a managerial position, rented apartment and future was pretty clear not only to me, but all the girls who meet me.

But now, everything is unclear. I can move on next month, i don’t have any plans… i have some ideas, goals and etc. But i don’t have the tendency to stick to ideas and can change after a while.

In this situation building a relationship - there i can’t offer any clear path and most likely i will just split from this place… it feels like lying. I can’t support delusional idea of me building a family, home or anything like that - because it’s not my goal.

So i don’t really know how to approach relationship in my status. Saying 'hey, i’m a nomad I will probably go away from you after a month or two. But lets hang out together?" doesn’t sound quite right in my head.

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@markmanson | 6yr

So, you’re basically implying that it’s not worth pursuing a woman sexually unless you are either a) paying her, or b) planning on marrying her.

No offense, but that’s a pretty messed up way to view relationships, and not to mention, women.

First of all, I don’t buy the “sex drive” thing. You can masturbate. You don’t need hookers. You’re visiting them because you like them.

Second of all, you can absolutely be honest with a woman about being nomadic and the fact you’re possibly leaving. Many of them will still date you anyway. Many of them will even keep in touch with you after you leave. Some of them you’ll even return to see them again. And maybe one of them, you may end up marrying anyway.

I met my girlfriend in February 2012. I was in Brazil for two more months when I met her. I was completely up front with her about how long I was staying. We dated and had a great time. We kept in touch. I actually flew to NYC a couple months later to see her when she was there on a trip. A few months after that, she flew to visit me in Colombia. A few months after that, I moved back to Brazil with the intention of staying there for at least another 8 months to see where things went with her. Two years later, she’s sitting across table from me in Cape Town, South Africa, and we’re flying to Dubai together in a couple weeks. Never been happier.

You never know what’s going to happen until you open yourself up to certain possibilities. You’ve chosen to be nomadic. But you’ve also chosen to view things in such a way that limits you to hookers/celibacy. I recommend attempting to view things differently.

But if you must continue to view things the way you are, I recommend celibacy over hookers. Hookers can be harmless fun when done sparingly. But over the long-term, they’re really going to promote a skewed and screwed up version of intimacy. Not to mention, you’re likely inadvertently supporting the economics behind human trafficking and millions of girls worldwide being forced into sexual slavery. So there’s that, too.

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@roberthopman | 6yr

Hi @MarkManson,

  1. What kind of blogs or books do you read currently?
  2. How did you select them?

Thanks,
Robert

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@markmanson | 6yr

The only “blogs” I read are Andrew Sullivan (politics) and Grantland (sports). Occasionally I’ll check Tim Ferriss’s stuff or maybe a James Altucher article once in a blue moon.

For a blogger, people are often surprised that I don’t read blogs. I don’t know, I just find them dull and repetitive. For every good, unique, well-written piece of content, there are 10 that suck and are just trying to get attention. So yeah, I’m a blog snob I guess. Shoot me.

I read a lot of books. Some literary fiction, but mostly non-fiction. I buy tons of books. I buy way more than I read. I don’t even know where I find them. But anything related to psychology, sociology, economics and history and philosophy, has a good chance of being bought by me. Assuming it looks good. I hate self help books. I think they’re awful. I also think that 95% of the non-fiction out there is written horribly. So I see that as my mission in the world. To write good, clear, useful non-fiction and self help material that doesn’t suck.

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@toddrew | 6yr

Hey Mark,

For the past 4 years I’ve lived and traveled in Latin America with my gf (ex-gf now).

I found the hardest aspect of living this lifestyle with a partner was being tied to someone 24/7. It’s very hard to have space when you’re traveling together.

How have you dealt with this?

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@markmanson | 6yr

AGREED!

Fortunately, we get along extremely well. But we’ve noticed that renting an apartment with extra space is key for us. It’s important for one of us to be able to leave the room or even go to the other side of a big room. It makes no logical sense, but it does affect us, just the sense that we have a lot of space to ourselves.

On top of that, I’ve been insistent on us taking 1-2 mini trips separately each year. So far those have been really helpful for our sanity. Getting out and socializing helps a lot too… and is strangely easy to forget to do when you’re with each other constantly.

I’d actually like to throw the question back to you, since you did this longer than I’ve done it. What did YOU learn? How would you have done it differently if you could?

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@toddrew | 6yr

We always travelled pretty slowly, staying for 6 months to a year in each spot. This definitely helped us to eventually establish a social life outside of the two of us.

A few times in the first couple years we did housesitting in Mexico and Guatemala which meant living in large houses of rich people which gave us a better amount of space.

One of the most difficult times was an eight month stretch of living isolated off the grid, in a house on Atitlan. Basically 8 months of being in the same house with one other person which can drive you crazy.

In a way I see the lifestyle as something that probably helped to stretch out the length of the relationship, for better or worse. On the negative side it’s far too easy to become over-dependent. On the positive side, if things are getting stale, packing up and moving somewhere completely new gives your relationship a fresh reset, by facing new challenges and environments together.

If I had to do it over again I think periods of separation of traveling or visiting home would be a good thing right from the start.

Back in the days of the 9-5 schedule we would say goodbye in the morning, spend a chunk of the day apart, and then come together again for supper. In our situation, while traveling it was too easy for us to both work from home or go to the same cafe. Sitting beside each other with our faces stuck in our laptops definitely wasn’t great for our relationship.

If I could do it over again I would spend more time parting ways in the morning and working from different spots. I would also turn off my laptop more and clearly separate my work and non-work time.

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@markmanson | 6yr

Interesting, definitely see some similarities. I know what you mean about the 9-5 thing. When my girlfriend had her 9-5, the relationship definitely felt “easier” or at least, less thought-intensive. Thanks for sharing.

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@jonbstrong | 6yr

Hi Mark, many thanks for doing this AMA.

My question is having travelled and lived in so many spots all over the world, where do you find the best cultural fit for you personally?

And my second question: I am currently looking at creating a website oriented towards the Brazilian outbound travel market with the help of a Brazilian travel blogger - do you have any experience of online marketing for a Brazilian audience at all? Are there any major differences which you noticed in the way Brazilians communicate and interact online - or what appeals to them that may not be so obvious to us from the outside?

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@markmanson | 6yr

It’s funny, the cultural fit question is becoming more difficult and more complicated the more I come to understand various cultures. A couple years ago I would have said South American culture – particularly Brazil or Colombia – in a heartbeat. But now I don’t know. There are a lot of values I don’t like. I also think that my values are changing. So I actually find myself more in line with some western European countries. But who knows, this is an always-evolving thing for me.

As for the Brazilian market, I’ve heard that marketing is much easier because there’s far less competition. Thing about Brazil is that they’re much more vain than we are. They care about dumb status things more than we do. I’ve seen some marketing in Brazilian niches that made me cringe based on how superficial it was – basically a person standing up and bragging about how great and rich they were for 30 minutes – and Brazilians go crazy for it and buy it.

In the US, we all believe we’re going to be the next millionaire. In Brazil, nobody believes they’re going to be a millionaire, so they’d rather just follow one. That’s kind of a cynical summary, but from what I’ve seen, it’s true.

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@nomadicpad | 6yr

Hey Mark!

I’m making a trip to Manaus, Brazil at the end of the month. Any suggestions or people I should connect with?

Also, more introspective question: With all of your success, do you still feel some level of insecurity for not fitting the mold and being a one city kind of entrepreneur with the Porsche and big house?

(An aside, I personally could care less about this stuff, but every time I set up my perfect nomadic life, I always get criticism and pressure from the world to go back into a conventional career, and while I try not to listen, it can drive you insane the more you hear it!)

Thanks for the reply buddy!
Brandon

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@markmanson | 6yr

Hey Brandon,

I don’t have any connections in Manaus, so can’t help you there.

To answer your question, I have absolutely no insecurity in regards to materialism. I live so well sometimes that I laugh about it, and I’m don’t even spend the majority of my income.

What I do get insecure about occasionally is that I’m not taken as seriously as other more conventional writers or journalists. Like just because I don’t have a masters degree or I didn’t write for some magazine, my opinion isn’t as valid. Hopefully I’ll be able to change that with my new book coming out next year. But yeah that bugs me sometimes. There have been a number of occasions where my site and articles have outperformed some very big names and big sites and I feel like I get no recognition for it. I’m seen as an anomaly or someone who’s living out his 15 minutes of popularity.

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@nomadicpad | 6yr

I feel ya man! Think you summed up my thoughts. Materialism is the gateway to lifestyle criticism. Maybe the world’s just not ready for this.

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@youjindo | 6yr

Hi Mark!

I am one of your huge fans and it is awesome to see you on the nomadforum :smile:

I have been told a lot “Traveling is not for everyone” from people around me whenever I talk about a nomadic life. Do you think traveling & nomadic life can be not a good idea for some people?

Because 1. The idea of settling down in one particular place might be the best way to live for some people since everyone has different value on their life? Or,
2. In terms of experience and inspiration, traveling & nomadic life would be one of the best options for everyone, and some people just don’t have a chance to realize that?

I have been in overseas and on the roads for the last 7 years. I believe in a value of exploring the world and getting motivation from all new amazing stuff. But recently I don’t have a strong confidence that everyone can be a nomad and everyone should travel as much as they can while they are alive.
What do you think?

Thanks for your writings and insights as always :blush::wink:

Cheers,
Youjin

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@markmanson | 6yr

I don’t think it’s for everybody. And I always cringe a little bit when I see someone preaching it to people as if this is somehow a superior way to live. It’s a superior way for us. And that’s fine. It’s not for everyone.

Some people prefer to stay put. Some people just aren’t that curious about other cultures/countries. Some people enjoy some leisurely travel, but they like a well-organized life.

I know for me, I was on an ego-trip for a while that this was a “better” way to live and I kind of let myself feel superior because of it. But letting go of that has been very healthy for me. I remember talking to one of my best friends back in the US about how I was having trouble relating to a lot of non-nomadic people. But I could still relate really well with him and a few others and I had no idea why. He’s a musician. Brilliant dude. But he’s doesn’t travel. He said, “Because it’s not about what people do with their lives that matters, it’s whether they love what they’re doing or not.” I liked that and noticed it was true. The people I have kept in touch with are generally people who love what they’re doing with their lives.

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@mogosselin | 6yr

Thanks for doing this AMA Mark!

You wrote that you had only 1k in your bank account when you ‘started’.
What was your business at the time and how long did it take to get a ‘reasonable’ income? What lesson(s) would you like to share for people wishing to become a ‘digital nomad’? Would you do anything different?

Thank you

  • Mark
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@markmanson | 6yr

Yes, I had 1k when I started. I also had a few info products online that either I owned or I promoted in a few different niches. They made me a few hundred dollars each month. I was also doing the dating coach thing back then, so I was netting a client or two each month for about $1,000 per client. That first Europe trip, I had lined up a few clients before I went, so I actually spent two months there but came home about break-even.

That was 2009, I started my business in late 2007. So that gives you an idea of how long it takes. It wasn’t until early 2010 that I started to get a stable passive income online and then not until early 2011 that that income was the equivalent of a full-time job in the US. My friend Dan Andrews has a concept called the “1000 Day Rule” which states that digital nomads usually need 1000 days to reach a level of income comparable to a full-time desk job in the US. And that was more or less my experience.

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@al_steffen | 6yr

Hi Mark!

I appreciate your time and enthusiasm to share your knowledge! This morning a good friend recommended your blog to me. What a perfect case of serendipity. :smile:

  1. What steps did you take to transition from simple jobs that have the purpose of funding the nomad lifestyle to those that make you feel like you are actually contributing?

  2. I am keen on having an impact in the world. However, meaningful entrepreneurial projects often require the founders to be stationary. Have you been able to find a solution to this while maintaining your nomad lifestyle?

  3. I am a blogger myself. What was the single most important criteria that gave you credibility and reach?

Thank you!

  • Alex
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@markmanson | 6yr

Hey Alex,

  1. I think eventually, once you become better at staying afloat, you can back off and start focusing on impact over simply making money. Making money is the primary goal when you’re starting out, but once you’ve got enough to sustain yourself, then impact should slowly move to take its place. That’s what I did. It was a multi-year process for me.

Other thing I’ll note is that you need to be willing and able to shut off revenue streams at some point. It’s painful. But at some point you will need to make the decision to shut off a project or income stream in order to focus on things you care more about in the long-run. This decision is ALWAYS worth it in my experience, so don’t freak out too much.

  1. This is the great paradox of this lifestyle, right? The more you move, the less efficient you end up being. It’s a pain in the ass to find new grocery stores, gyms, meet new friends, etc., every month or two. It’s so much easier to just get set up somewhere cheap and grind, grind, grind. This is a question of balance in my opinion. And I would say that if you feel as though you need to be stationary – even if it’s for a year or two – then do it. You can still gain a lot of amazing experience from being in one place. In fact, there are a lot of things you experience in a country that you cannot experience otherwise without having spent a year or more in it.

I’m actually finding myself in a situation lately where my business is going to require me to be back in the US more frequently. I’ll be slowing down quite a bit in the next few years.

  1. Good content. Lame answer, I know, but it’s true. If you can change somebody’s life in 1000 words, they don’t care who you are or where you come from. They shut up and listen.
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@thedesignnomad | 6yr

Hey Mark!

I really appreciate the honesty and no bullshit articles and posts you write. I’ve been a digital nomad for almost as long as you’ve been, and it’s been nothing short of fucking fantastic, but the most difficult part is having and maintaining friendships and relationships.

Relationships while tricky, is something that can be overcome by having your SO travel with you (like what you have, which is mad awesome) - however, most of my friends / people I know have stable jobs and lives which means sometimes it gets damn lonely.

What’re your thoughts on this, and have you found anything that works for you?

Thanks!
Mel

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@markmanson | 6yr

Honestly, the best thing I did was find a community of other entrepreneurs and digital nomads (similar to this one) and then networked my ass off with them so that I could have people I knew in random places I went.

I’ve found that local friendships rarely last with any significance unless you spend at least 6-12 months somewhere. Even then, unless you come back somewhat frequently, you’re likely to lose touch. That said, I have built up a few friendships in a couple of my favorite cities. So that combined with a couple trips home each year for the friends/family (I need this emotionally, I discovered, even though I don’t like the US much), combined with other digital nomads I’ve met, usually makes things bearable.

Some people get lonelier than others I’ve noticed. I have friends who go for years without ever feeling lonely or missing friends/family back home. That’s not me though. I’ve had to heavily prioritize relationships into my travel choices. If I could make just a few basic pieces of advice, they’d be:

  1. Travel slower – longer periods of time in each place.
  2. Pick more meaningful activities. Hostel bars and surf classes don’t usually result in long-lasting relationships. Volunteering, working with local entrepreneurs, and yes, romantic relationships, seem to generate better “stick rates” with people.
  3. Visit home a couple times per year. If not for your sake, for your mother’s.
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@thedesignnomad | 6yr

Also, thanks for taking the time to respond to everyone so thoughtfully and thoroughly. This is the most care I’ve seen put into an AMA and I really appreciate it.

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@thedesignnomad | 6yr

Thanks, that really helps! Spot on about “it’s for your mother” :stuck_out_tongue:

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@jrdnbshp | 6yr

Hey Mark!

I’m a new fan of yours, and upon perusing your website, I see this phrase as one of your top lessons learned from living a nomadic lifestyle:

“You realize that the more you spread the breadth of your experience across the globe, the thinner and more meaningless it becomes.”

How has your experience as a nomad changed over time? If you’re like me, at the beginning you try to cram in everything possible that you can - a day of relaxing is a wasted one. I’m curious: has your perspective changed, or do you still have the feeling that you need to “do it all”? Was there a single instance where you learned this lesson?

Thanks Mark!
-Jordan

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@markmanson | 6yr

No single instance that I can think of. But I’m five years plus change deep into this and I’ve had enough interesting experiences in that time to last most people a lifetime. But the odd thing is is that looking back, none of it seems that important. I mean, in aggregate, it seems incredibly important, it makes me who I am. But single each experience out and it all seems kind of meaningless.

Whether motorbiking Vietnam or feeding homeless people in India or meeting holocaust survivors in Israel or dating a dancer in Russia – it’s all just kind of like, “oh yeah, cool.” Sometimes it doesn’t even feel like I was the person who did it. Like I’m going swimming with sharks here in Cape Town tomorrow and I’m just like “Oh, OK… gotta get up early.” It’s weird. I would say that I feel jaded, but it’s not negative or cynical at all. I think it’s just a proper prioritization of my life that few people have when they’re stationary – I’m looking forward to seeing my best friend when I get back for XMas more than I am for swimming with sharks. That’s kind of crazy, because I’ve been hanging with my best friend back home, drinking beers, talking about dumb shit, for like 15 years. But these days it’s what I look forward to. And that’s a good thing I think.

But to answer your question, still occasionally I get an itch to go do something if I read about it or see it on TV or something. But for the most part, I’m pretty content. There are still a few more countries I’d like to see, but I’m in no hurry anymore. I’ve discovered recently that countries are still there if you wait a few years to get to them… (usually).

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@marinajaneiko | 6yr

Hey Mark, thanks for joining us!

I’m curious, from your perspective - what is the main difference in the nomad world between now and 2009?

I’m a nomad since 2009 as well, and one of the things that surprises me is how fast the hubs for nomads grow. For example, in 2011-2012 when I traveled through Southeast Asia, the situation was much different than now - I had to struggle to find reliable places to work from. Now, you can easily hit one of the existing and coming hubs pretty much all around Southeast Asia.

Thanks!

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@markmanson | 6yr

Yes, it’s very different. Things felt far more remote back then. I was in Thailand in 2010 and 2011, and I knew like 2-3 digital nomads in the whole country. Now I go to Thailand and I know at least 20, with an expanded network of a couple hundred.

I think a few things are changing:

  • Nomads are consciously choosing to congregate together in some of the higher quality-of-life cities. This is probably a good thing as I think a lot of us had to get the “somewhere new each month” bug out of our systems.
  • The third world isn’t as cheap and easy as it once was. Back in 2010, Chiang Mai was about 2/3 the price that it is now. When I first went to Medellin in 2012, it was about 2/3 the price it is now. The third world is catching up fast.
  • There’s just more of us. And this isn’t nearly as oddball of a lifestyle as it once was. 4-5 years ago, when I explained to people my lifestyle, they looked at me like I was nuts. These days people seem to kind of get it and understand it quicker.
  • I think we’re going to start seeing more migration to Europe, Japan, Australia, etc. One of the reasons SE Asia was/is so popular is because of the quality of life you get for such a cheap price. But I think as more and more nomads get older and get more successful and pinching pennies becomes less of a concern, we’re going to see people appreciating the first world again.
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@levelsio | 6yr

Hi Mark! Thanks for doing this. I’ve been a super big fan of all your writings. I remember reading the first ones back when I felt really confused and lost about doing this. It helped me a lot to read that this was a normal thing. Traveling fucks with your perception of reality. Reading that you had the same thing was helpful.

[quote=“MarkManson, post:1, topic:128”]I feel like relationships is the next frontier for this lifestyle and that’s probably something I’m uniquely able to comment on.
[/quote]

This is a big thing.

Most nomads I know are single, why is that do you think? And how can you counter it? How do you find people that want to do the same thing and if so, how do you set it up? Should the transitory nature of nomadism/travel also make the character of the relationship different? Think for example open relationships etc? What do you think?

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@markmanson | 6yr

I think most nomads are single because it’s harder for people in relationships to become nomadic in the first place. That and I think most of us are a little bit commitment-phobic at heart. :smile:

In the case of my girlfriend, she had always dreamed of traveling the world, but it wasn’t until she met me that she realized it was possible. I think for most people it’s just realizing what’s possible.

Being nomadic ABSOLUTELY changes the texture of the relationship. We’re still figuring everything out, as it’s only been about a year on the road for us (year together in Brazil before that), but we’re starting to notice that the relationship feels different when we’re bouncing around a lot from when it does when we settle in somewhere for 3-6 months.

In terms of promoting nomadic relationships, I think more people just need to become interested in them. Generally speaking, digital nomadism is very new and primarily populated with young 20-somethings and 30-somethings who are putting their own goals and careers before their relationship goals. At some point though, those relationship goals will take priority again. For me, it took about 3 years of traveling before a relationship was even on my radar as something I’d be seriously interested in.

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@flowen | 6yr

Hi Mark,
Thanks so much for the AMA and the amazing insightful articles you write.

So I’m very curious how you handle the relationship while travelling. Perhaps you can give some general insight as well as more specific points: I’ve been travelling alone myself, but when I come back, I think I’ll probably want to be on the road again soon. My current girlfriend doesn’t have a job which can be done digitally or remotely. She will have a hard time finding a job in the first place and if she gets one she probably wants to work on her career and most likely stay. i’ll be left with a choice of staying with her or going on the road again alone (and possibly break up, I’m not so down with the long distance relationships). She also wants to travel, so she’s having a hard time in choosing what’s next.

Is your current girlfriend having a remote job? Is she able to work while travelling or do you (currently) support her? I’m also very curious about how you handle situations were either of you don’t like the place but the other one loves it. What about fights? Except through the internet, you won’t be able to find support in friends or family in case of a fight, but then again you’re quite the relationship expert :wink:

I wonder how gypsies maintained their relationships as actually I think we’re not that much different from them.

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@markmanson | 6yr

My girlfriend saved up for a year and then quit her job to travel with me. She’s working on starting an online business in Brazil. As with all of us, the process for her is slow and grueling. She’s learning a lot. In that time I’ve helped support her in various circumstances. But this was something she wanted, not just for me but for herself. We made that very clear before we did it.

Traveling does take on a different character together. Sometimes one of you loves a place and the other doesn’t. And that’s fine, but yeah, that just means you can’t stay a long time. Generally speaking, you need to spend more time in each place I think because logistical stuff (apartment, transportation, food, etc.) becomes more complicated and all of the little decisions take longer because there’s two of you. And then you run into inconveniences that you never would have known if you didn’t have a girlfriend. For instance, the beauty services in Thailand are apparently horrible, Vietnam doesn’t have the right tampons, birth control is insanely expensive in Singapore, etc.

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@nuk | 6yr

The only example that I know of such relationship is the case of Vinicius Teles and Pat Figueira AKA Casal Partiu.
But I find their case so particular.
I’d like to know more about other cases as such.

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@jamesslock | 6yr

Hey Mark, awesome to have you on the AMA.

What techniques and resourced did you use for learning new languages?

I find picking up languages really hard, being from the UK the majority of the world speaks english so have never learnt a second language but would really like too. Practicing is an issue as I’m in a new country and surrounded by a new language just as I start to pick up a few words and phrases.

Also what made you decide on those particular languages to master?

Thanks

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@markmanson | 6yr

This is a good question. I’ll try to be thorough but also not go on forever, because I could. :smile:

First, because everybody has a different idea of what speaking a language is or what “fluent” is. Let’s create a few levels to make all of this easier to explain:

Level 0 - You don’t know a damn thing. People might as well be speaking Klingon for all you know.

Level 1 (Basic) - Low-level stuff: hello, thank you, please, ask for directions, names of foods, etc. You can have slow, jerky, basic conversations as long as the topics are really simple and the person you’re talking to doesn’t mind having the conversation of a five-year-old.

Level 2 (Conversational) - You can have a solid conversation with locals one-on-one. You understand most of what’s said around you, or at least get the gist. You can make a few jokes, but you still find that your use of the language is slower than your mind. You get lost in big group conversations.

Level 3 (Conversationally Fluent) - You can have a pretty fluent conversation in 90+% of situations without too many mistakes. You can take part in group conversations without getting lost. You can make jokes. You can read anything that isn’t super technical or heavy literature.

Level 4 (Fluent) - You can speak without thinking. You dream in the language. You can read and talk about almost anything without hesitation. You still make mistakes occasionally, but they’re so few and far between that basically nobody notices anymore.

Going From Level 0 to Level 1

  • This is basically just memorization and practice. Which means courses are good tools and you can use anything.
  • Duolingo.com is my favorite for this. It’s a gamified way to learn basic vocabulary and practice. Pimsleur is another good one (audio recordings). Flashcards can work.
  • I don’t recommend classes. They’re really inefficient uses of both time and money.
  • With some regular study (an hour per day), you can reach Level 1 within a week or two.

Going from Level 1 to Level 2

  • The courses really stop being useful here. Now you need to get practice speaking the language and constructing sentences on the fly.
  • Best way to get through this level is with a personal tutor and one-on-one sessions. The sessions should focus primarily on grammar and conversation.
  • All new vocabulary should come through conversation. Keep a dictionary on your phone and note down every new word you have to look up. Go back and study them before bed. Construct sentences with them.
  • If you do this, you should see rapid progress. The more hours of conversation the better. The more intense the better. If you do 4-5 hours of tutoring per day, you can be a Level 2 speaker within a month.

Getting From Level 2 to Level 3

  • This is where the immersion is necessary. To get to the next level – conversational fluency – you need to be surrounded by locals, partying with locals, going to dinner with locals, hanging out at weddings with locals, all in their own language.
  • Tutoring can still help you through this. Duolingo and courses can still keep you fresh, in case you leave the country for a while, but nothing gets you through this level other than immersion, in my experience.
  • The reason is because these are the conversations you can’t have any other way than with people you know and have met. This is where you talk about local politics, economics, how you felt about your ex-girlfriend’s little sister, and so on.
  • In my experience, it takes multiple months (3-6) to move through this level, minimum. More if you’re not in the country.

Getting from Level 3 to Level 4

  • I’ve never really solidly been Level 4 at any language and honestly I don’t see why most people would want to, unless you plan on living in a country really long-term or doing some serious study/business in that language.
  • To get to this level, you ironically need to get back to studying. This is where you learn all of the obscure grammar that is rarely used, highly technical language, obscure historical references and slang.
  • From what I’ve heard, it takes a couple more years to get to this level.

Here are a couple articles from my site about language learning:
22 Tips for Learning a Foreign Language
The Four Accelerators for Language and Life

And to answer your other questions. I chose Spanish because I had studied it some in college and I planned on spending a lot of time in Latin countries. I chose Portuguese because it was closely related to Spanish and I ended up living in Brazil for over a year. My girlfriend is also Brazilian, which helped.

I’ve also studied Russian and little bits of German and French.

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@jayzus | 6yr

I second this question. I’ve found language learning to be mainly very traditional and focused on passing tests or more directed at common phrases for visitors. What do you think are the best ways to become quickly conversationally fluent?

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Read and participate in 13,970 discussions on Nomad List

Suggested topics

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Where to recyle in Panama?


in Panama by @karlamoura | 12mo 11 months ago | 0 comments

I’m in a small town on the coast of Panama, and I was told that here they don’t separate the organic from the reciclable residues. Have you been anywhere in Panama? Have you recycled?

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Suggestions for home base for 10 months in Mexico or Panama next year?


in Mexico by @we_are_escaping | 2yr 1 year ago | 14 comments

We’re researching places to use as a home base next year, and are leaning towards Mexico or Panama for 10 months (with 1 week “vacations” to explore surrounding countries)

But, I want to settle some place where the infrastructure is good enough for fast, reliable internet - fast enough to run live webinars without worrying that I’ll be S.O.L due to internet issues when it’s time to go live.

And ideally, I’d like to be on the coast… I like to have ocean/beach access without the need for a drive.

And not in a malaria zone (just saying, since Panama in particular has many areas that I’d rule out simply due to the need for malaria prevention meds)… it’s one thing to take that stuff for a few weeks long trip, but I don’t want to take it for months on end.

Thoughts?

Thanks for reading all :slight_smile:

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I'm looking for a European city with a great connection to the outdoors. Help?

 

by @justinbosco | 3yr 2 years ago | 23 comments

I’m in the middle of doing some research for our next destination within Europe and I’m hoping to get some suggestions from some outdoor enthusiasts who’ve spent time on the continent.

My favorite cities are Innsbruck, Austria and Bergen, Norway because you can be downtown having a beer one minute and then… boom… up the mountain in the middle of nowhere 15 minutes later. I’m looking for a similar place to spend a month or two this winter. Places like these are hard to find because “mid-size european cities with great hiking nearby” doesn’t return too many relevant results on Google. Great adventure towns are usually in the middle of nowhere, the kind of places you’ll need to rent a car to get to the grocery store, and places with good public transportation are usually concrete jungles. But places like Innsbruck and Bergen manage to combine the best of both worlds.

Has anyone come across similar places they’d recommend?

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Medellin, Bogota or Panama? Any recommendations?


in Medellín, Colombia by @xdrewx | 3yr 3 years ago | 3 comments

Medellin, Bogota or Panama? Any recommendations on a 6 month stay with the intent of learning spanish and running an ecommerce business(good wifi)?

Where is a good place to learn Spanish? I am coming in with an intermediate level of Spanish.

Where is the internet quality good enough?

Many thanks!
Drew

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I'm beginning my Nomadic journey - what advice do you have?


by @jacob_tr | 3yr 3 years ago | 8 comments

Hello Everyone,

On January 8, I set off on my Nomadic Journeys. I have a one way ticket to Iceland booked for a film shoot, and a flight into mainland Europe on the 20th, and from there I have no idea, and I am completely on my own.

What advice do you have? Right now I am feeling everything, from bad to good about it all, really can feel that safety/wool from underneath me get pulled away, I know I’m jumping out of my shell here.

(To give some background, I’m starting my nomad journey after having started a successful business, so financially I am set. It’s the question personally, mentally how do you cope in the beginning of leaving everything and going?)

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How to receive an SMS while I'm anywhere in the world?

 

by @bluedognz | 3yr 3 years ago | 21 comments

Hi Nomads

Any suggestions how I can receive sms messages to iPhone while I’m anywhere in the world? I have an Australian Telstra phone, but I also have another one out of contract which I could put on a global sim?

Calls are not really a problem, with Skype, Zoom, Google Voice etc taking care of that but I’m not sure how I’m going to get sms’s. Especially for banking purposes, reseting passwords etc.

First post here, we are about to embark on a global house sitting / time share journey! Starting with 3 weeks in Bali, then 10 weeks in the Caribean, followed by 3 months in Europe. :smile:

Clark and Tegan

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Would you like a coworking & coliving space in Panama?


in Panama by @oricoh | 3yr 3 years ago | 15 comments

Hi everybody,
We are at the beginning of a very interesting journey to eventually establish work spaces and accommodation in Panama.
But before we start, we’d love to figure out how Panama is perceived by you, US time zone and currency are any advantages ? Would you prefer more urbanic or beachfront locations ?
All feedback will be highly appreciated.
Cheers =)

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Data sims for Jamaica and Bahamas?


in Jamaica by @joncottonuk | 4yr 3 years ago | 8 comments

Hi all

Looking to spend a couple of weeks in Jamaica and the Bahamas - Can anyone recommend the best value data sims for either or both countries. Not bothered about calls as will be using Skype.

Thanks - Jon

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What mobile plans do you recommend in Guatamala and Belize?


in Belize by @tschentscher | 4yr 4 years ago | 2 comments

Hi every one.
I’m travelling to Guatamala and Belize in a couple of days and was wondering what’s the best mobile-data option (Best speed and coverage) around here? I’ve looked at Tigo or Claro. Do you have any recommendations?

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Is anyone in Tenerife? I'm moving there for at least 6 months


in Tenerife, Spain by @andrea3018 | 4yr 4 years ago | 9 comments

Hello Nomads,
is anyone in Tenerife at the moment? I’m moving there from the 1st of August and not getting out of it for at least 6 months.
I’m going to stay in Puerto De La Cruz.
Do any of you has ever been there and do you recommend this city to me? Or should I look for an apartment elsewhere in Tenerife?
Also, how do you find cheap long-term houses there? I would love one with a private pool.

Thanks,
Andrea

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How to get from Panama to Nicaragua?


in Nicaragua by @inannavega | 4yr 4 years ago | 2 comments

I’m spending three months in Columbia and have a plane ticket from there to Panama City. The goal is Granada, Nicaragua. Unfortunately, I will have a bit of luggage on this trip, so I’m not all that excited about moving around too much by bus. As I will be staying in Central America for the foreseeable future, I will be able to return to Panama. What would you do in Panama if time were limited? Is it worth it just for a day? Should I return later without so much luggage and wait to see Panama until then? Any thoughts?

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Is Panama a good destination for tax residency for digital nomads?

 

in Panama by @anonym | 4yr 4 years ago | 23 comments

I’m from Europe and is looking for a country where I can declare my residency, mostly for tax purposes. Panama seems to fit everything. The plan is:

  • Get permanent residency using “Friendly Nations Visa”
  • Create a company and get a work permit
  • Get clients to pay me in that company

Since Panama has territorial tax, all income earned outside Panama has zero taxation.

Is it just that good or is there some hidden catch? I live in a Scandinavian country and they just hate to let people go. Will there be problems in paradise?

The plan is to visit Panama once a year and after five years get a passport.

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Do I need to have health care insurance as a US citizen when I'm away?


by @ericvan | 5yr 4 years ago | 5 comments

I support ObamaCare, but I don’t understand about the requirement that USA citizens must now have health insurance. I just got a new plan, and they don’t support any medical needs when I’m out of the country! So, if working abroad 6 months of year, how do I NOT pay insurance for those months and NOT get a tax penalty? FYI, I’ll be in a pretty high tax bracket in 2016.

Thanks!

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Should I elect my LLC as an S-Corp for taxes, I'm a US citizen in Europe?


by @robetus | 5yr 4 years ago | 3 comments

I have an LLC formed in Portland, Oregon. I am the only member and do not ever plan on adding more members. Should I elect to have my LLC treated as an S-Corp for my taxes? I am a US citizen living in Europe but I do not qualify for the foreign income exclusion yet. Can anyone give advice that has made this election? I know that as an S-Corp I can pay myself a reasonable salary based on the company’s income and then pay the rest to myself in dividends that are exempt from certain taxes.

If I chose to pay myself 70% of the company’s income as my salary am I required to pay myself the other 30% in dividends or can I leave that 30% in the company’s coffers for legal fees, large chargebacks, and the like? Thank you for reading and with any help provided.

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How can I own a car if I'm not a resident somewhere?


by @nevergoingback | 5yr 4 years ago | 15 comments

Hi peeps,

Here is me with a serious question again!

I travel the world alot but always go back to my home country for a couple of months each year. In this period I want to own a car. But because I do not live anywhere it is very difficult to own a car. I cant put the car I want on my parents name because of their salary and the Netherlands being very strict on that.

What options do I have to owning a car?
I know things should be possible just like afrojack who had a car with german license plates!!

Any advice on this?

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I'm going to New York City, any digital makers spots to visit?


in New York City, United States by @litanin | 5yr 4 years ago | 2 comments

Hi, i am going to New York for the first time in my life, but i have only 7 days (one full week starting on Oct 10). Apart of well known tourist spots (The Statue of Liberty, central park, broadway, 7th av etc) i also want somehow to get into digital makers environment to feel the spirit, speed and trends. What would be your suggestions to do / visit there?
May be some co-working places or cafes, exhibitions, lectures, anything?

I would really appreciate any suggestions.

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Hi, we are Coboat, an 82ft coworking catamaran sailing the world. AUA!


by @james | 5yr 4 years ago | 15 comments

Hi we are Coboat, a floating coworking space. We will take our custom 82ft catamaran around the world and offer a platform for a mix of digital nomads and entrepreneurs to come on board to work and collaborate together.

We have the latest in green energy technology and will utilise the latest in satellite internet, 3G & 4G to stay connected and online.

We offer trips from one week to one year and we will take up to 20 together on a creative adventure to amazing places to find inspiration.

Like most other coworking spaces we will offer plenty of chances to encourage synergies, with regular events, skill & idea sharing sessions.

We are non-profit and we hope to foster and develop ideas for social projects as we travel through regions.

We are also running a free 100 day scholarship ‘Made on Coboat’ for anyone who wants to kick-start a new project.

Please, ask us anything. :smile:

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Where should I go next? I'm a 25-year old Australian girl working remotely


in Australia by @angsmith | 5yr 4 years ago | 19 comments

I’m a 25 year old Australian girl, newly single, working remotely for a SF startup. I’m looking for a location to settle for the next 6 months, starting in May. All countries are on the table (although stable wifi is required).

I’d love to be by a beach & somewhere that has a relatively bustling vibe, restaurants etc. Bonus points for surf or a gym.

Logistically, I have a visa to be able to stay in the Schengen zone for 4 years so Europe is doable. I guess I’m concerned about it being high season?

I’d love to hear any suggestions.

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Does anyone understand the Panamanian retirement program?


in Panama by @worldtravel | 5yr 5 years ago | 3 comments

Does anyone understand the Panamanian retirement program? is there a way of becoming a resident by showing you are receiving income every month from investments and not from a pension or annuity?

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I'm launching Nomad List 2.0 soon, can you give me your feedback?

 

by @levelsio | 5yr 5 years ago | 41 comments

Hi guys/girls,

It’s time for my regular request for feedback on Nomad List and all the related sites (including this forum, #nomads, Nomad Jobs etc.).

Here’s a little update on Nomad List itself: I’ve rewrote the entire site this month and will launch it soon as Nomad List 2.0, you can check it out at http://2.nomadlist.com.

Biggest changes:

  • When Nomad List launched, it had data on 25 cities, with 3 data points per city (cost, internet, temperature). In the last few months, I’ve worked together with a team of editors in the last few months to add the world’s 500 biggest cities, with about 70 data points (like safety, fun to the best hospitals). This means, it now has 35,000 data points.
  • It now includes over 10,000 places to work, like coworking spaces and coffee shops, and sleep, like hotels and hostels. I’ve made an algorithm to score these places based on user reviews, WiFi speeds, proximity to each other (like it’ll recommend Hubba in Bangkok, and a hotel near that so you can walk to your work).
  • It’s integrated with #nomads now, which means I can add user profiles soon for all nomads to share their trips.

Let me know your tips and what direction you think I should go :slight_smile:

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