The ‘New Nomad’ and over 20 sub-niches of the digital nomad today
This article delves into the diverse world of the ‘new nomad’ lifestyle, exploring various sub-niches within this evolving movement. It discusses the concept and potential opportunities for individuals, businesses, and nations to stimulate and enhance their economies through innovative remote work practices. As you read, you’ll embark on a journey to understand what the ‘new nomad’ represents, and I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments.
The notion of the ‘new nomad’ emerged during research conducted by our startup while participating in an accelerator program with Startup Madeira in 2021. We aimed to identify and understand the various subsets of digital nomads. We pondered questions like why people choose this lifestyle, who identifies as a digital nomad, and what differentiates these individuals from one another.
The primary objective was to pinpoint those who fully embrace the nomadic lifestyle, and we faced numerous questions in our quest to grasp this niche. We launched our business with the mission of making it easier for this community to find affordable accommodations worldwide, offering a faster and smarter way to do so.
With the world experiencing an extensive period of remote work due to recent global disruptions, an increasing number of people are considering transitioning into the digital nomad lifestyle. This transition is what we refer to as the ‘new nomad,’ encompassing a range of subsets within the digital nomad community.
The ‘new nomads’ aren’t limited to the stereotypical image of young, tech-savvy individuals working from a hammock on a beach, as often depicted on social media. This lifestyle appeals to professionals aged 35-55, who have achieved success in their careers but seek a deeper meaning in life. They yearn to explore the world while working from various locations or are planning their escape from the corporate world, where the sterile office environment no longer makes sense to them.
These ‘new nomads’ value freedom above all else, cherishing the opportunity to explore and experience life from different perspectives. Some choose to live in vans, travel full-time while working, or participate in co-living arrangements or workation retreats. They have a profound desire to explore the world while working from diverse locations.
The disruption caused by the sudden loss of freedom during the global crisis prompted individuals to reassess their core beliefs, realizing that travel and work should be integral parts of life. Many started by testing the waters with small-scale adventures, eventually progressing to full-time travel.
Defining what is ‘normal’ when it comes to the ‘new nomad’ lifestyle is subjective and depends on one’s perspective.
The global lockdowns temporarily halted the ease of international travel, making it a reality that some might never visit their dream destinations. The abrupt loss of freedom was a shock, leading to a surge in what we call ‘revenge travelers.’ These individuals are now exploring the world more extensively, working and living on the road, marking a transformation from a far-fetched dream to the ‘new normal.’
During lockdowns, business travelers sought ways to navigate changing border regulations, while digital nomads continued their journeys, testing the boundaries of this lifestyle. The disruption caused by lockdowns and the shift to remote work prompted a reconsideration of values, resulting in what is now known as the ‘great resignation.’
The disruption of normal life and the experience of working as a ‘new nomad’ demand a seamless connection between work, rest, and play. The excuse of poor Wi-Fi no longer suffices, and nomads must prepare for various contingencies when traveling, such as carrying backup batteries and even their Wi-Fi routers. Sometimes, a simple phone call can suffice instead of the ubiquitous video conference.
Digital nomads work virtually from anywhere while traveling full-time. Although this concept is not entirely new, it has evolved in response to advances in technology and the recent experience of remote work during the global crisis, making it more prevalent.
The global disruption compelled individuals, businesses, and nations to adopt new policies and practices, creating opportunities for tax incentives and innovative approaches to attracting talent and fostering economic growth. Embracing this change is vital, as it can significantly impact economies by harnessing the talents of digital nomads.
As someone who has experienced a nomadic lifestyle for several years while simultaneously running a global startup, I can attest to the challenges and lessons learned during this journey. The value of firsthand insights into the issues faced by both suppliers and customers is immeasurable.
PAST NOMADIC LIVES
In the past, nomadic lifestyles were the norm, driven by the need to find food and resources. People foraged for sustenance and followed seasonal patterns to survive. This ancestral lifestyle has left its mark on modern digital nomads, who seek out places with clean air, water, and proximity to nature. The importance of building trusted relationships in business, as exemplified by Silk Road merchants, remains unchanged.
Once Spurned by Governments, They Now Want Nomads
Governments have recognized the potential benefits of attracting digital nomads to revitalize small communities and economies suffering from ‘brain drain.’ Each digital nomad contributes significantly to the local economy, making them a valuable asset for governments. On a personal level, many ‘new nomads’ have chosen to redefine their lives, realizing that waiting for the world to return to ‘normal’ is no longer an option.
Global disruptions have challenged industries like tourism but also opened doors to new innovations. Entrepreneurs who adapted quickly turned small businesses into thriving e-commerce enterprises. However, regions that failed to embrace innovation saw innovation hubs shut down. The current uncertainty, including geopolitical tensions, adds complexity to an already tumultuous period.
THE NEW NORMAL
With disruption comes opportunities and shifts in all aspects of life and business. Change has become the new normal, so waiting for a return to the old ways is futile. The key to progress lies in the desire to help others solve problems and embrace new ways of thinking.
Embracing the ‘new normal’ involves packing essentials like a smartphone, laptop, and necessary accessories. Booking flights and accommodations, checking visas and restrictions, and preparing for various contingencies are part of the process. The desire to explore life while working from anywhere is the driving force behind this lifestyle.
The Revenge Traveller
Revenge travelers are those who travel extensively, crossing borders and exploring the world as much as possible. Some adopted this lifestyle during the pandemic, making it an integral part of their lives. Our company has interviewed numerous nomads who embarked on their digital nomad journey during the global crisis.
People tend to gravitate towards like-minded communities that share their passions and values. Freedom has become a central theme, prompting individuals to seek what is truly important to them.
The Identity of the ‘New Nomad’ Comes in Many Forms
The ‘new nomad’ lifestyle takes on various forms, with individuals identifying with different subsets of this community. Some of the most common identities include:
1. Location Independent Workers
2. Full-Time Travelers
4. Family Nomads
5. Nomad Couples
6. Solo Entrepreneur Nomads
7. Female Solo Entrepreneur Nomads
8. Mumpreneur Nomads
9. Van Lifers
10. Remote Worker Nomads
11. Nomad Entrepreneurs
12. Global Citizens
13. Corporate Nomads or Executive Remote Workers
15. Coliving Nomads
16. Adventure Nomads
17. Work for Accommodation Nomads
18. Grey Nomads
19. Refugee Digital Nomads
Are you No. 20?
20. Who Are You?
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WHERE TO NEXT?
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