Work From Anywhere, Score Everywhere
So long, rat race. It’s time to set yourself up as a digital nomad.
For the past century work has been centered around the office. Then COVID hit and, with the help of video conferencing and collaboration tools, the distributed workplace took a 10-year-leap in a matter of months.
Despite fear of time mismanagement, countless companies have found that employee productivity has remained, and are allowing staff to work remotely indefinitely. Tech giants like Alphabet, Facebook, Twitter and Slack are in this boat. A friend at one of them told me that only 10 percent of their employees plan to return to the office full time. Many are fleeing San Francisco altogether. The main reason? The chance to afford a house.
Apparently, the white picket fence is still the cornerstone of the American dream.
But what if you’re not at the home-buying stage of life? Or what if you’ve decided that the American dream is trending toward a nightmare and you want to wake up somewhere new? Better yet, what if you just want to get really, really good waves?
Becoming a “digital nomad” might be the call. Digital nomads (I agree, terrible name) have been growing in number since the web went worldwide, with location-agnostic freelancers fulfilling contracts from any beachside palapa with decent WiFi. A 2018 study by research firm MBO found that 4.8M Americans considered themselves digital nomads, and now that distributed work is available for the masses, I can’t see how this trend doesn’t explode in popularity.
I asked Kristin Wilson — surfer, digital nomad expert (seriously) and sister of surf photographer/pundit Jimmicane — if she thought digital nomadism was about to have its moment.
“Definitely,” she said. “Researchers are still trying to catch up with the remote work movement and its implications (let alone digital nomadism). But early statistics show that 2 in 3 people can now work remotely.”
That’s consistent with Stab Travel’s latest survey, where 67% of you said you could work or study wherever you want. And those places you want? A few of them are starting to want you back.
“Now that the digital nomad movement is gaining more attention,” Kristin said, “at least five countries have launched ‘Digital Nomad Visas’: Barbados, Estonia, Georgia, Bermuda, and Jamaica. Which means you could rent a house at Soup Bowls for a year and then take side trips to Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, or the Virgin Islands to chase swells. Indonesia and Portugal are reportedly developing similar options.”
How could this ability to work from anywhere not change the way we live and travel? How could this not become a given for any 22 – 35-year-old surfer? Over the next year, we’ll either tame or learn to live with COVID and the world will reopen. Which gives you plenty of time to rearrange your life to facilitate some global roaming. Find someone to rent your spot. Change jobs. Switch to T-Mobile. Convince your partner to come along (or break up). Get a dog sitter. Sketch out the perfect year. Oooh. That one’s fun. I think mine would look like this:
May/Jun: South Africa
Sep/Oct: Portugal, France
This pace of seeing the world allows you to actually get to know a place. Strike missions become seasonal residencies. Lineups are learned. Routines established. Friends made. Assuming you’re respectful, you can go from a faceless tourist to at least being tolerated. Go figure.
If this way of living is starting to sound appealing, so much so that you might not wanna wait any longer, Kristin’s got good news.
“You could move to Mexico tomorrow and stay up to six months on a tourist visa,” she said.
Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Ireland, too.
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