More and more people have jobs that don’t depend on working in an office and are hitting the road with their laptops to become digital nomads, also called remote workers. But some things don’t change in this digital era – we still crave social interaction with real people and studies show we still trust the recommendations of our online connections or friends the most.
Digital nomads have different requirements from regular travelers. While we still need to find places to live, eat, play and relax, we require fast, reliable internet and quiet, dedicated workspace. And we need community and friends — a basic human need that never changes no matter how much we live our lives on the road.
There are increasing numbers of global and local groups and sites established specifically for nomads to help them meet other travelers, find a place to live, decide on a budget and find a place to work. Some groups are open and some are closed, with requests to join screened before approval. Here are 5 tips to help you get started as a digital nomad or create stronger networks with other nomads.
1. Join at least one global support and advice group for digital nomads
Who do you talk to about becoming a digital nomad or heading off overseas to work and live? Wouldn’t the best people to ask be other nomads, especially those with some experience under their belt? Luckily, there is a growing number of support and advice networks — mostly Facebook groups — that can help newcomers get advice from seasoned remote workers. Groups like Digital Nomads Around the World or Digital Nomads Hub are good places to ask for help starting out in a remote working lifestyle or to share your experiences and knowledge with others. Newcomers often post questions about the best places to live, the cities or countries that are the most welcoming to long-stay travelers or which countries offer freelancer visas or make it stress-free to live there for short periods. People in these groups can also give advice about smaller, local networks for certain cities or regions - groups like Remotive are great for when you're looking for a tighter nit network. Simple questions often generate long discussion threads, giving numerous suggestions for places that are still relatively unknown on the nomad trail and cheaper. You can also find separate pages for Digital Entrepreneurs if you run a remote business or start-up.
2. Join smaller, regional nomad networks
While global networks may help you launch yourself as a digital nomad, deal with the lifestyle and find jobs, a network that is set up just for a certain city or region will be better at helping you deal with on-the-ground issues like finding a place to live or work, visa costs or just knowing how much to budget for living expenses. (The global networks can provide a lot of advice as well on these topics.) If you are heading to a specific area or country, search for and join networks that focus just on that region. Immigration rules, laws and attitudes towards travelers can vary so much from country to country, even within a single region, such as Europe or South-East Asia, that it's valuable to connect with people whom you can ask for realistic, timely advice. Regional networks such as Digital Nomads Thailand or Digital Nomads Croatia will let you ask questions of other nomads who either already live and work there, or have spent time there. Through these networks, you’re also more likely to find services that offer complete living packages, including housing, monthly fees for co-working space and access to social events or shared meals. Outsite even has local WhatsApp groups in each location, so you can keep up with community.
3. Find remote jobs
Search for job boards that cater to remote workers. Groups like Remote Work & Jobs for Digital Nomads, Remotely Jobs or The Digital Nomads Job Board list hundreds of jobs. While many of these do require workers to be based within American time zones, they can be a good first step for someone who is ready to become a remote worker and wants to learn how to adopt less-structured work practices before heading off to live overseas. Or you may be able to transition to a remote job before you set out. Don’t forget that any digital nomad networks that you’ve joined are also a good source of work, as people often post requests seeking other nomads to join their start-ups or just take on their extra workload.
4. Find women-only groups
We know this only applies to 50% of the community - if you're not that 50%, skip forward! Female digital nomads often feel more comfortable joining female-only groups. Women travelers list security as a major concern when they travel, looking for cities or neighborhoods that are safe for women to live in. Many women also feel safer meeting up with other females to socialize or travel. One Facebook group, Female Digital Nomads, has over 12,000 members and generates long threads addressing safe travel issues or how to meet other women while traveling. Digital Nomad Girls is another Facebook page that only accepts female members and organizes frequent meet-ups and posts profiles of individual nomads. If you search, you’ll also find pages for women of color, lesbian and queer women, as well as a group for women over forty.
5. Meet other digital nomads offline
Even in the digital age, you still can’t beat face-to-face networking. For this reason, co-working spaces often become start-up incubators as people meet to discuss their projects and find ways to share expertise and join forces. Many co-working spaces, such as those in tiny Estonia, which ranks third in Europe for start-ups, give rise to numerous start-up companies. Most digital nomad online groups offer frequent in-person gatherings in different cities. Another local group, Ubud Digital Nomads, posts notices of regular events, which often involve yoga, meditation or full moons, which is our local cultural mix. Other groups may have coffee gatherings, breakfast meetings or drink socials. Co-working spaces often offer in-person courses, training or workshops as well.
Spend some time online and research groups that meet your specific needs if you are thinking of becoming a digital nomad or are already traveling and want to get advice. This way, you’ll never feel that you’re alone and you will have networks you can tap into no matter where you wander with your laptop.
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Words: Lizzie Kardon // Pagely
Photographs: Outsite + Pagely