By 2025, some studies estimate that a whopping 35.7 million Americans or 22% of the workforce, will be remote workers. Thanks to the pandemic, more people are choosing to embrace a location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and work remotely. They are called digital nomads, and the trend is becoming more widespread. The digital nomad lifestyle has been on the rise for years. Then when Covid-19 hit, the popularity of this new way of working exploded. In 2020 alone, the number of digital nomads in the U.S. surged almost 50% to 11 million. Then in 2021, that number increased again to 15.5 million, according to the MBO Partners 2021 State of Independence Study.
Here are some reasons why the adoption of digital nomadism is on the upswing and doesn’t show signs of slowing down.
Companies establish work from anywhere policies
According to a recent Qualtrics report, 80% of employees looking for a new job said it was important that their next job offer them the opportunity to live anywhere. Employers are listening. Now that employees want to continue working remotely, many companies like Lift, Airbnb and 3M are switching to permanent flexible work models. Another example is Spotify which touts the fact that “work isn’t somewhere you go, it’s something you do.” Their work from anywhere model allows employees to choose where and how they work within certain geographic parameters. For example, if a role is based in Sweden, the employee may be eligible to work remotely within Europe.
Foreign countries lure digital nomads
The interest in this new location independent lifestyle has sparked an interest in digital nomad visas. According to trend tracking site Exploding Topics, searches for the term “nomad visa” are up an incredible 2,400% over the past five years. As a result, countries are introducing visa options to lure foreigners for extended stays. For example, Brazil regulated the granting of both temporary visas and residence permits for immigrants who work for foreign employers. As a result, they may stay for one year and renew the visa for a second year. Most recently, Indonesia announced that the country is developing a new visa that would be effective for five years—longer than any other digital nomad visa currently available. To date, a total of 46 countries have jumped on the digital nomad visa bandwagon.
Families embrace the digital nomad lifestyle
Digital nomads used to be thought of as twenty-somethings backpacking from hostel to hostel, looking for anywhere they could plug in their laptop. But flexible work and homeschooling have helped usher in a new type of digital nomad that wants to see the world and create lasting memories with their families. It’s called the “anywhere worker,” according to a recent Lonely Planet survey. Most anywhere workers can be found in high-tech jobs, with 61% working full-time. About 70% of people in this category are between 24 and 44 years old, while 35% are between 45 and 54. Almost half are married, and, unlike the typical digital nomad, 70% are parents who take their families with them.
More products and services exist to support digital nomads
A growing number of products and services have emerged to help digital nomads navigate their lifestyle challenges. Some examples include:
Coliving and coworking spaces
These spaces ease the burden of balancing work and travel. You can settle in, get your job done and find inspiration through connecting with others. Coworking spaces catering to digital nomads generally provide a place to work, temporary housing and access to a local community of like-minded people.
If you’re ready to hit the road and let someone else handle the details, you’re in luck. Companies like Nomad Cruise and Remote Year bring together groups of professionals who live and work remotely for a few weeks to a year. These companies handle all the logistics, allowing you to focus on work and explore new locations.
Online information and job sites
The growth in online talent marketplaces and remote job sites has made it easier for digital nomads to find work. There are also valuable sites that provide a wide array of useful data. For example, Nomad List has information on the cost of living, internet speeds, taxes, visas and a variety of other information for over 1,200 cities worldwide.
People prioritize experiences over possessions
In recent years, there has been a shift from valuing possessions to focusing on experiences. Millennials, in particular, are fueling this trend. Rather than spend money on expensive watches or luxury cars, younger generations prefer to invest in experiences like concerts, rock climbing and culinary classes. According to one study, more than three in four Millennials would rather spend their hard-earned money on a thrilling experience or event over buying a product. In addition, 55% of Millennials say they spend more on events and live experiences than ever before.
As it turns out, you no longer have to be shackled to your desk eight hours a day, five days a week, to be productive. Instead, you can see the world, meet people from all walks of life, and be free to work where you want, when you want.