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What are the real tradeoffs of becoming a digital nomad?

 

by @worldtravel | 5yr  | 23 comments

Hey Nomads… I was wondering what your opinion is with the downsides of being a digital nomad? I’m not trying to be a downer haha… just want to know what the reality is. I have been living out of a backpack for a few months now… I came back to my native NYC and have been floating around Airbnbs for awhile… I could easily get on a plane and go be a digital nomad somewhere… but I’m worried about communication barriers, loneliness, not having meaningful connections with people… difficulty in dating, and really having a home… If I did go somewhere I’d settle in one spot… I’ll be 33 years old in less than a month… feeling the need to settle down… but I’m kind of rolling stone haha

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@travelguyny how are you getting on?

Late into this conversation but I ‘think’ I would make a good digital nomad (even though I dislike the term) because I’m an introvert, have very few friends, and most of my brothers/sisters are in relationships or married, basically having their own life.

I’ve been travelling for six months and haven’t felt lonely, but what I did find is that I prefer to be somewhere for a longer period of time, rather than moving around every week or two. I’m planning to give DN lifestyle a chance in Penang, for three months from October. Health is a big issue for me (I am type 2 Diabetic) and I need to improve my lifestyle with regard to more exercise. My main hobby is photography and creating videos, so, only need a digital camera for that. Great comments, and have made me more confident that this is going to work out well, providing I can continue to bring in freelance work in.

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@alan1974s | 5yr

I agree with the numerous comments about it being easier to be healthy out of the US. I always end up putting on poundage when I’m back in the states. Exercising was an issue for me, but I have been running for awhile now and don’t really have any issues with it in Europe. I usually try to stay near a park or search ahead of time for some place to run (beaches, etc). I’ve even started searching out places with 5-10k runs that I can participate in.

I tend to stay in one spot for 2-3 weeks, so at 41, I also agree that dating becomes a bit of desert. I do photography as a hobby, so if I get lonely, I’ll toss together some shoots and have some people to hangout with for a few days, so finding things where you can meet people do help out. I’ve done a couple meetups that where successful in Asia as well.

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@worldtravel | 5yr

David thanks… but it doesn’t really apply to me as my family is mostly dead… I don’t have many friends… I never had a conventional job… and I have always been a wonderer… I never cared much for the American dream of materialism… and trying to work ourselves to death to impress people…I’m not trying to be the richest in the cemetery… instead being happy in the moment and truly not needing anything else is important to me. . I’m not looking for an employer to give me purpose or American society to give me my values… our time on earth is limited…

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@travelingpm | 5yr

Agreed. I’m not selling anyone the American dream. What I’m saying is that script isn’t better or worse than the one’s we write ourselves, as many find happiness in being the richest in the cemetery, unfortunate as it is. You seem to be like me in that you do not see value or happiness in the American dream and are writing your own script.

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@travelingpm | 5yr

I think Brooke Silva-Braga does a good job capturing some of the less obvious or tangible trade-offs with long-term travel in his documentary “A Map for Saturday”. The act of moving abroad can disrupt the sensibilities of your friends, colleagues, and family members who stay behind. When you chose to travel long term, you more or less disagree with a culturally pervasive script: that secure, stationary lives are best, and nomadic ones are risky or misleading. Depending on your personal ties, you may feel that you’re letting some people down by moving away from them. Personally, you may feel rootless and isolated at first even though you consider yourself adventurous and brave, as the plot points that defined your life story, your job, your friend set, your routine, your pets, your milieu, all disappear and you have to ‘rebuild’ your sense of self based on your new lifestyle. When you travel for long periods of time and stretch your own sensitivities, perception of reality, purpose, whatever you choose to label it, and return “home”, what and how you relate to everyday life is so far beyond that original script that your friends, colleagues, and family members can’t even share the same reality with you and reaffirm that their script is best. The reality is, both scripts are best.

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@diginomad | 5yr

I think the tradeoffs are not worse than the ones you’d have in any other way of life. You always have tradeoffs, no matter what you do or where you are.

Digital nomads are a special kind of nomads, having –perhaps– the easier type of nomadism there is: you can work from wherever you are, earning good money and not having to change professions to suit the place you are in.

Lisbon is beautiful. I lived within the São Jorge Castle walls. Good internet. Very good food (and very cheap). It’s a very old city, albeit mixed with modern parts, and the geography is really nice, with many lovely one-day trips.

Good luck! Boa sorte!

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@pummyjr | 5yr

I’m looking forward to seeing how your trip turns out. Keep us posted. I wish you a great adventure!

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@flyonthewall | 5yr

Staying fit is a big one as is eating right. Both can be addressed depending on your pace of travel.

Loneliness is also a big one. I travel with my wife but still crave deep connections with other people and it’s just hard to come by on the road. But I think if you make an effort things do get easier.

Seeing family is hard if you’re on the other side of the world.

And sometimes you just have decision fatigue… Too much information in each new environment.

Lastly I think if you’re used to being top dog in your hood, you’re going to have to get used to being a nobody 99% of the time. This is a humbling but confronting experience.

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@worldtravel | 5yr

I think I may be a good nomad… I got rid of the bad friends I’m had and not much family left alive anymore or I don’t talk to them. I spend 99% of my time alone… might as well me traveling : ) Everything I own is in a small storage unit in New Jersey or on my back… Lisbon here I come… touchdown April 19th, 1430 hours.

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@jeff_bronson | 5yr

As others have said, it’s all a matter of what you make of it. It also depends upon your length of stay and personality type. Personally, I’m choosing for it to be VERY lonely as I spend most days either in my apartment or co-working space. As this 6 month trip to Asia was for ‘getting stuff done’, not dating, partying or excessive lounging around. However, some manage to do all of the above and still get projects built.

You have to give up hobbies as well. Some of my hobbies are closely tied to subcultures that just don’t exist here for the most part. So even if/when you do meet other expats, discussions beyond travel or business can get old. There is no cultural/familiar vibe to relate too.

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@worldtravel | 5yr

On my way to Lisbon on Saturday… everything is in storage or on my back :slight_smile:
ideally it would have been better to have a base in my native NYC… but that would be an expensive base to maintain while away half the year… so its all in haha… if it doesn’t work out… Then I hop on a plane and come back to nyc or go to a small town to live out my days haha… This is a good kind of trip because I’m going to hunker down for 2-3 months at a time. Get some good work done…learn a language, get to know the people. Then set up another temporary base : ) Hopefully I will run into people who have my values, to not be a corporate slave… to give yourself meaning in your own life and not have an employer give purpose for you. Life is short, enjoy the adventure… help people, achieve your goals and experience amazing things… balance is key.

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@gregbrand | 5yr

Man, we’re SO close together … literally.

I share all the values and like you, I just booked a one-way ticket … to Madeira island, Portugal :wink:

Well, I’m from Europe - so it probably didn’t take such big balls :smiley:

Good luck to us both!

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@skatkov | 5yr

I wouldn’t say that there is a difficulty in dating. It’s even easier to date while traveling.
But it’s darn hard to have a stable relationship.
I also gave up on some of my hobbies, because they don’t fit my backpack. Like i don’t have my vinyl collection anymore and my speakers are same size as apple :slight_smile: and not some hifi fancy stuff :slight_smile:
It’s also a struggle to find a sport that fits into nomad style. Before I’ve had a lot of friends who motivated me to go to gym, but now I’m trying to do freeletics totally alone :slight_smile:
All your favorite friends will not be around all the time too, you can chat with them over skype, write them email. But they will probably have hard times relating to your experiences, but they will be happy ot hear that your doing great. But you can always travel with someone if your plans match. :slight_smile:

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@wanderingdev | 5yr

ease of dating depends quite a bit on age in my experience. when i was in my 20s and traveling dating was easy peasy. now in my 40s it’s much harder. most long-term travelers are either much younger or much older. :slight_smile: Kind of a pain.

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@skatkov | 5yr

It’s not a case with men, they are like vine. The older - the better :smile:

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@northcoffee | 5yr

I’m likewise struggling with my toys/sport equipment. I’m not giving up xcountry skiing, my inliners, my mountainbike or the entire shitload of outdoor gears. Sometimes I consider having stashes of gear stored around Europe :smile: It’s not so easy though. How does one for example find a safe and cheap parking spot for ones car in some random European country?

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@levelsio | 5yr

It can be very lonely, which is great as being alone with your thoughts can be a transformative experience. But on the long-term I suggest traveling with someone (like a partner).

We all get homesick. But when we’re home we want to get away again. That’s another issue :smile:

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@worldtravel | 5yr

I just booked a one way trip to Lisbon, Portugal… So thats a start.

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@gigigriffis | 5yr

I second what Mandy said. It all depends on you.

Personally, I’m much healthier traveling than I was in the states. I tend to choose places with good access to hiking trails (something I love doing and that keeps me fit) and, as Mandy said, it’s easier to avoid processed shit when you aren’t in the US. And I’ve never been to a restaurant that didn’t have a non-red meat option.

I’d say before tying yourself down by buying a place, do a little traveling and see how you feel. Some nomads do end up having a base and loving it. Some don’t. But I’d test the waters before you make a big commitment like buying property.

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@worldtravel | 5yr

thanks… well said… I have been looking at properties… but I feel like I might hoping on a plane soon.

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@wanderingdev | 5yr

All of those things are potential issues. How you deal with them depends on you. Settling for longer periods helps a lot as you can make friends, learn some of the local language, find the markets that fit your needs, etc.

In many countries, eating healthy isn’t that difficult because they don’t even have all of the processed crap that we have in the US. Markets are common, cheap and fresh. Spain really isn’t all about red meat. TONS of fish, chicken, pork, etc. You can get anything you would want. Running might be an issue but gyms are pretty common and you can get involved with local sports like soccer to help make friends and keep in shape.

Really it comes down to you. If you want it to work, you’ll figure out how to make it work. If you aren’t invested in it, it won’t.

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@gigigriffis | 5yr

The good news about the nomadic life is that it can be anything you want it to be. It doesn’t have to mean moving constantly. Some people move every few days (too fast for me). Some people stay for weeks or months in one place and some stay for a year or more. Which means the things you worry about aren’t always real worries. If you stay for months in one spot, you can still feel settled. And because you’re moving and motivated to meet people, I think you’ll find you actually meet more people and make more connections. And as for dating, if you have 100% flexibility as a nomad and you meet someone great, you can just hang out in that person’s town or travel with them if they’re a fellow nomad.

Anyway, so I think the things people worry about before they go are actually not the biggest issues in my experience. The things that do get old? Moving too fast (so I always recommend going a little slower than you think you’ll want to) and sometimes having crappy accommodation (for me, any space without good sunlight or with a crappy mattress really impacts my sleep, health, happiness, and productivity). No matter how much research you do ahead of time, sometimes you end up somewhere less than ideal.

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@worldtravel | 5yr

Thanks, for the response… I find some of the biggest challenges I think there will be are eating healthy and keeping in shape… some countries I’ve been to you can’t just go for a run down the street. Not because its necessarily unsafe… its just doesn’t always feel comfortable… some places won’t even have a gym and some cultures like in Brazil or Spain they are all about their red meat… which I don’t eat… I’m sure its possible to find a way around this or avoid it in some countries… I’m thinking about a hybrid strategy… buying a place in my country (us) and traveling half the year… I would be curious how that works out for people.

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Read and participate in 13,918 discussions on Nomad List

Suggested topics

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Any Ph.D students dissertating while a digital nomad?


by @larsheather | 3mo 3 months ago | 5 comments

Anyone know of any groups or resources for Ph.D. students working on dissertation while living as a digital nomad? I know there are several virtual writing groups around, but wondered if there were any specifically for digital nomads, particularly those who are dissertating.

Thanks!

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Any Ph.D students dissertating while a digital nomad?


by @larsheather | 3mo 3 months ago | 5 comments

Anyone know of any groups or resources for Ph.D. students working on dissertation while living as a digital nomad? I know there are several virtual writing groups around, but wondered if there were any specifically for digital nomads, particularly those who are dissertating.

Thanks!

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Does international health insurance for digital nomads exist?

 

by @al_steffen | 4mo 3 months ago | 59 comments

Hey Nomads!

I’m looking for an international health insurance (no travel insurance) for my nomadic life. It should cover the basic services and at least be accepted in the EU (it’s ok if it’s not accepted in the US as I’m aware they rarely are). Nice to have: enter into a contract online. Anyone got a good experience or a recommendation?

Thanks in advance!

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How do you invest internationally as a nomad?


by @mateuszwieloch | 4mo 4 months ago | 17 comments

I have finally saved enough money to start investing. What company gives good, diversified access to stock, ETFs and mutual funds? Does it make sense to use company like Vanguard or Fidelity for that? I’m a EU/Poland citizen, how would I transfer my money back and forth without incurring significant fees?

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I dream of being a digital nomad? How do I do it?


by @programmingmark | 5mo 4 months ago | 2 comments

Hello digital nomad!

I dream of being an independent digital nomad. But it feels very elusive & unattainable with my success rate. In full disclosure, whilst I have dreamed about making money online since high school; I have not earned a single cent making money online. $0, nada, zilch!! On the contrary, I have spent a lot of time & money on books, podcasts. Even though I have spent a lot of time reading/listening to others, I do not have anything to show for it!

I have made attempts in the past to start an online business, but these fizzle out quite quickly when I do not see traction especially when the goal I have set myself is too high.

Instead of reaching for the ultimate nomadic lifestyle goal, I want to start much smaller. Really small! I am simply looking to make $50 profit per month from a new online business. That’s it.

I need some advice from you please!

  • Is $50 profit too low? How long did it take you to earn $50 profit per month?

  • What is a good way of achieving this goal?

Thanks
Mark
aka the $0 online business entrepreneur

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I dream of being a digital nomad? How do I do it?


by @programmingmark | 5mo 4 months ago | 2 comments

Hello digital nomad!

I dream of being an independent digital nomad. But it feels very elusive & unattainable with my success rate. In full disclosure, whilst I have dreamed about making money online since high school; I have not earned a single cent making money online. $0, nada, zilch!! On the contrary, I have spent a lot of time & money on books, podcasts. Even though I have spent a lot of time reading/listening to others, I do not have anything to show for it!

I have made attempts in the past to start an online business, but these fizzle out quite quickly when I do not see traction especially when the goal I have set myself is too high.

Instead of reaching for the ultimate nomadic lifestyle goal, I want to start much smaller. Really small! I am simply looking to make $50 profit per month from a new online business. That’s it.

I need some advice from you please!

  • Is $50 profit too low? How long did it take you to earn $50 profit per month?

  • What is a good way of achieving this goal?

Thanks
Mark
aka the $0 online business entrepreneur

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How do digital nomads pay tax?


by @rodriigovieira | 5mo 5 months ago | 19 comments

Hello everyone! I’m new here and probably this is a very newbie question, but it doesn’t leave my head.

How do you, nomads, pay your taxes? I mean, if you’re constantly traveling, how are you going to pay taxes for a certain country if you are going to stay there a short period of time?
Or do you return to your “original country” and then pay them?

By the way, this forum has very nice cool formatting features! :smile:

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Best place for Digital Nomad in Latin America?


by @rose_davis | 7mo 7 months ago | 7 comments

Hi!

I am planning to move to Latin America for 3-4 months (Oct-January). I’ve narrowed down 6 different places that I want to visit before committing to settling down, but I’d love to get some community input.

Here are the cities I’m considering:

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Cuenca, Ecuador
  • Medellin, Columbia
  • Cartagena, Columbia
  • Antigua, Guatemala
  • San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala

The most important things I’m looking for:

  • Fast/easily accessible internet
  • Easy to meet other nomads/make friends in general
  • Safe for women
  • Some sort of spiritual community (I’m also a yoga teacher)
  • Easily walkable city

Anyone have any experience with these places and can give some insight? I’m also completely open to other recommendations.

Thanks!
Rose

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How do we solve housing for digital nomads?

 

by @levelsio | 8mo 7 months ago | 61 comments

There’s been a lot of discussion on this recently.

Nomads usually stay in hostels, hotels and short-term apartments. But it’s all not very optimal.

I’ve heard people suggest getting funding and building a network of houses you can stay at for a subscription price (e.g. Bruno Haid is working on that).

I don’t want do physical stuff, so I’m thinking of building a platform around making housing better for nomads.

What are the housing problems nomads face? And how can we solve them with products/services?

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How is Sicily for digital nomads?


by @gaelm | 9mo 9 months ago | 15 comments

Hi all, I was looking for a cool spot in Southern Europe for winter and I’m considering Sicily… Have you ever been there? If yes, how was your experience? If not, why?
thanks!

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How is Bari, Italy for digital nomads?


in Bari, Italy by @mitch_dina | 9mo 9 months ago | 7 comments

Greetings!
Does anyone have experience in Bari, Italy please? We are thinking of going from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Bari by boat in mid-March. Has anyone taken a boat across? Is it nice or can it be choppy? (We are trying to avoid planes, to reduce our carbon footprint, so adding more surface travel.) Also, any info you might be able to offer about Bari and the surrounds? Next step will likely be trains up Italy as the Spring progresses.

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How is Mauritius for digital nomads?


in Mauritius by @wakkos | 10mo 10 months ago | 14 comments

Hello all,

I’m planning on spending a couple of month in Mauritius Island and even when I’ve been there for a week, never rented or worked there.

Does anyone here has tips or experience to share about Mauritius?

Cheers!

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Are there any digital nomad fitness retreats?


by @ryanjames | 10mo 10 months ago | 1 comment

Hey all:

Does anyone here have any experience attending a full time fitness bootcamp or a fitness resort while working? I know there is one in Cambodia for digital nomads (Fitness Retreat Resort Kep Gym), unfortunately the time difference vs my work schedule would make my life suck if I tried to go there. I’m looking for a place between US and Europe timezones that lets you live with them, kicks your butt with fitness, but would also have good WiFi/accommodate working eight hours a day. I’m also open to other tangential ideas for something close-ish to get that same experience.

Thanks for any help!

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Best place to set up a company selling digital services?


by @pras_k | 11mo 10 months ago | 10 comments

What’s the best place?
For residency I’m looking at Portugal and they have the NHR (non habitual resident) program which would exempt dividends from foreign income.
So all I’m really looking for is the best place to actually start the company.
Biggest factors are of course low taxes and ease of setting up the company plus a business bank account that enables me to receive payments through Stripe.

What I found so far:
Hong Kong
Corporate tax rate of 16.5% (8.25% for the first HK$2 million)
⊕/⊖ offshore income from outside HK is exempt from taxation but it’s not clear whether this can be done in the first year and prorated or if it’s only through filing the offshore exemption claim. This might take two years and requires not income from HK at all. More info on that would be great
⊖ seems very difficult to get a business bank account
⊖ necessary services and fees are roughly around €2000 / year
⊖ accounting requirements seem to be very strict
⊕ Doesn’t require local partner
⊕ Agencies available that seem to handle most of the work

Singapore
Corporate tax rate of 17% (0% on the first S$100k, 8.5% up to S$300k)
⊖ requires a local director. What are the implications of this?

Malta
Corporate tax rate of 35%
There is the “full imputation system” but I don’t really understand it.
"In most cases, the tax refund to the shareholder is 6/7 of the tax paid by the company on profits distributed as dividends. The tax refund rate may be different in the following cases: " This would result in an effective corporate tax of around 5%.
⊖ European customers would have to pay VAT and I’d have to deal with that

Cyprus
Corporate tax rate of 12.5% and there seem to be ways to lower this
⊖ European customers would have to pay VAT and I’d have to deal with that
⊖ requires staying in Cyprus for 2 months / year

I find it surprising how much research this requires and how much “it depends” information is out there when I’d assume that there are probably thousands of digital nomads who probably have very similar requirements.

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Do you "out" yourself as a digital nomad?


by @larsheather | 11mo 11 months ago | 2 comments

When you meet new people or reconnect with old friends, do you “out” yourself as a digital nomad? The simple question “where do you live?” makes us uncertain now. We wonder if some places may be less welcoming to digital nomads, or if “digital nomad” has a negative connotation in some places. If you are forthcoming from the start, does your status as a digital nomad make it hard to form friendships?

We would love to hear how other people navigate this… how to balance being authentic in relationships vs. withholding the context (and allowing people to assume you’re on vacation, for example).

Thanks!

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Do you "out" yourself as a digital nomad?


by @larsheather | 11mo 11 months ago | 2 comments

When you meet new people or reconnect with old friends, do you “out” yourself as a digital nomad? The simple question “where do you live?” makes us uncertain now. We wonder if some places may be less welcoming to digital nomads, or if “digital nomad” has a negative connotation in some places. If you are forthcoming from the start, does your status as a digital nomad make it hard to form friendships?

We would love to hear how other people navigate this… how to balance being authentic in relationships vs. withholding the context (and allowing people to assume you’re on vacation, for example).

Thanks!

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Property Ownership - should digital nomads buy properties?


by @sparrow_23 | 12mo 11 months ago | 16 comments

I have been a digital nomad for the last couple of years. I have always worked in tech and now run a couple of profitable online businesses that give me a reliable income and allow me to fund a nomadic lifestyle.

I recently exited one of my businesses and I am considering to invest the income from the sale in properties, mainly for 2 reasons:

a) I don’t want to keep wasting my money in renting apartments across the cities I stay

b) I believe in properties as investment and I want to diversify my investment portfolio (mainly stocks)

After years of constant wander from one place to another, now I am the type of digital nomad who sticks to few locations: I mainly rotate across 4 places each year (San Francisco, Medellin, Berlin, Bali). Buying a house in each of those location would be difficult and too expensive. Therefore, I was wondering if there was any sort of service that combines an investment opportunity with the ability to access different properties around the world (even if just for a limited time per year) ?

Imagine living in 4 cities per year and having a house in each place that you can exclusively use for 3 months and at the same time having your investment growing (this depending on the market, of course). Wouldn’t that be great? I believe it could be done via a property fund selling you a share and giving you access to some of their properties for a limited timeframe each year.

Has anyone heard of anything like that?

Thanks!

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What's the best bank account for a global nomad?

 

by @barrybjjoubert | 1yr 1 year ago | 25 comments

Dear all
As a wanna be nomad figuring out a way to get free of the rat race, I was wondering what is the best bank account to have while travelling the globe? I need an account where is easy for me to receive payments from all over the world and it also need to be a bank that I can find almost anywhere in the world. I want to avoid carry cash on me if it’s possible.

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Ko Lanta or Ko Phangan - which island is better for a digital nomad?


in Ko Lanta, Thailand by @melinda | 1yr 1 year ago | 6 comments

I’m currently in Penang, Malaysia and I was thinking to head to Thailand next. What are the best islands in Thailand to get some work done? I was considering either Ko Lanta or Ko Phangan because those both islands have coworking spaces. I might need to take some client calls, also video. Is the wifi good enough? Are there any other differences between the islands?

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41
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Ko Lanta or Ko Phangan - which island is better for a digital nomad?


in Ko Lanta, Thailand by @melinda | 1yr 1 year ago | 6 comments

I’m currently in Penang, Malaysia and I was thinking to head to Thailand next. What are the best islands in Thailand to get some work done? I was considering either Ko Lanta or Ko Phangan because those both islands have coworking spaces. I might need to take some client calls, also video. Is the wifi good enough? Are there any other differences between the islands?

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41
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