🤔 What is Digital Nomad? Should you be a Digital Nomad?

Digital Nomad Pros and Cons - Why You Probably Can’t be One

Do you dream of being a digital nomad? Do you spend everyday living vicariously through an idea of there one day being just you, your laptop, and the open road? If so, you are not alone. Most freelancers flirt with the idea of becoming location independent at some point. In every case, though, it is important to think carefully before making any big decisions.

Is Being a Digital Nomad Really Possible in 2019?

Digital nomads on YouTube, make nomadic lifestyles look easy. Most make life seem like a never-ending slow motion waltz with a selfie stick, around a new spectacular location each day. (Followed, of course, by slow motion eating at restaurants.)

Sadly, even just sampling the digital nomad lifestyle can be a lot more complicated.

Digital Nomad Con No.1 - Working on the Go Isn’t easy

The first thing people dreaming about being a digital nomad need to ask themselves, is can they really work remotely?

Depending on what you do, it might not be possible to work over public wifi in crowded places like hostels, coffee shops, and coworking spaces. For creative freelancers like writers, graphic designers, and web designers, after all, distractions can be deadly.

Digital Nomad Con No.2 - Travelling Means Travelling

Digital nomads on YouTube make floating between locations look easy. In reality, though, being perpetually on the move can be hard work.

Visa rules can be mean that digital nomads can only stay in specific destinations for a limited time. Moreover, when traveling between locations, a plethora of problems can manifest. Important pieces of luggage can get lost in transit. Travelers can fall victim to scams. Travelers can also fall sick. All the while, though, digital nomads who need to work, will still need to keep on top of workstreams.

Digital Nomad Con No.3 - Being a Digital Nomad is Expensive

Outwardly, living a nomadic lifestyle in Asia, South America, or Europe can seem like a dream come true. However, most people who fail trying to be digital nomads, do so because of one simple reason — money.

Even in countries with a supposedly low cost of living, foreigners can find it hard to live as cheaply as they anticipate. Not having a consistent income can, therefore, spell financial disaster.

Digital Nomad Lifestyle Pros

While it is essential to be aware of the realities of being a digital nomad, the lifestyle does have certain benefits. Common health and well-being problems in the West, almost all stem from sedentary lifestyles, stress, and long working hours.

By comparison, people who travel are often happier. When executed sensibly and sustainably, a nomadic lifestyle can, therefore, prove physically and emotionally transformative.

Do You Really Need to be a Digital Nomad?

One way to avoid the cons of a nomadic lifestyle can be to relocate semi-permanently to a single destination.

Countries like Ecuador, Belize, Cambodia, Georgia, and Estonia, all offer visas for digital nomads which can last up to a year or more. Those who want to sample a change of scenery can, therefore, still do so, just without the hassle of being truly location independent.

I think that I recently found heaven on earth for digital nomads. Its a ski resort village called Bansko in Bulgaria.

Top Stats:

  • Average $150 - $300 per month rents in newly constructed apartments with stunning views
  • Bulgaria has a flat income and corporate tax of just 10%
  • Thriving freelance community actively marketing the village as a digital nomad hub
  • Hot summers and skiing in winter
  • Low cost of living (groceries, bills, etc

I ache for places like this. In New Zealand, I lived in all the top winter adventure travel destinations. Mt Ruapehu, Mt Cook, Franz Josef, Wanaka. I even started training to be a glacier guide.

I never realized that dream as a dog broke my ankle and I was unceremoniously kicked out of the country. A Chinese guy had more balls than me and decided to overstay his visa to use a loophole to get a new work permit. I wish I had done the same. However. Bansko and Georgia may be the places I eventually end up.

If I did it right. I could live tax free by spending 3-months in Bansko, 3 in Macedonia with @TheFreaky (or somewhere he could help me rent) and the rest of the year in Georgia. It would be simple in theory as you can travel by boat from Bulgaria to Georgia. In this case, it would make traveling with Chico easy-ish.

Or I could just go all in on Georgia. The draw there is they have a glacier and a fledgling adventure tourism industry.

I kind of have a crazy dream of one day combing all my hospitality and marketing experience to create my own version of Franz Josef or Wanaka from NZ. i.e. Be the person who puts a place on the adventure tourism map. Sadly. I just never know what to really do about the dog situation.

I do hope that when Chico gets to heaven, he gets some kind of perspective of how much I gave up and put on hold to care for is cranky ass!

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Bansko is quite a nice place. I had been there lke 3 or 4 years ago. It was super-cheap at the time. Like a euro of a beer in a pub.

But there is an interesting trick in Bansko. If you shop in the stores which are down in the village where the locals live, everything is cheaper by 20-30%.

I do plan to go in Bansko this January with my friends. I can provide you with more info about the coworking spaces in detail.

Poland is a great country to consider as well.

We had the same tax rate here, but the government increased it from 15-18%, plus there is a law that would make us pay an additional VAT of 18% if you make more than $1000.

It’s freaking crazy. The previous government considered freelancing as FDI.

That’s why a friend of mine, an accountant told me to create a company in Bulgaria in order to get paid via PayPal…

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I have a lot of Polish friends. They take great pride in having a good fight after a night out. That’s put me off Poland. Lovely people, just extraordinarily violent when drunk.

Come to Malta. The price you pay depends on how brown you are. Being white sees you pay double or at least 50% more. Having a Mediterranean tint gets you local rates. Anything darker, you pay whatever gets decided in the moment. Thankfully, I’m considered local now at the shops I shop at. On Friday, I got 12 beers for 7 Euros, while the normal price would be 1.20 each.

I’m pleased to hear this. The only thing putting me off at the moment is the post-Brexit visa situation. Georgia so far offers the best deal. Whereas word on the grapevine is that Bulgaria is being sneaky like Malta and finding lots of ways to already not issue or renew residency for Brits. (Unless you are super-wealthy.)

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Yeah, I agree. They are very polite and they have great manners when sober. Especially, if you are a tourist, Poles are very welcoming if the notice that you like their country.

Plus, they obey traffic laws, everyone waits in line, they have manners. Unlike, in Germany, where people don’t have any manners. Honestly, I do have the same feeling in Germany as I am in the Balkans, a lot of garbage everywhere, nobody speaks English, they are very hostile toward tourist. But I guess that happens when you let everyone in your country.

Nah, I have a lot of unhappy friends who went to work in Malta. It’s modern slavery. In the past, many Macedonians were making decent salaries though. Now, the migrants take all of the jobs for a fraction of the cost.

Oh, in Bulgaria you can bribe someone for $10 and get the job done. :joy:

I do consider to apply for Bulgarian citizenship, all you need to do is:

  1. Say that Macedonia and Bulgaria are the same countries with the same history.
  2. That every historical figure from Macedonia are Bulgarians.
  3. Have documents from any relative born pre-1913 as at that time Macedonia was under Bulgarian occupation.
  4. Sign a document that you consider Bulgaria as your motherland.

In a year you can get EU citizenship for just a couple of hundred euros.

@PsychoKitty - I think the same thing can be done by people from the South-Eastern parts of Serbia. Correct me if I am wrong.

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WHOA! :astonished:

I could live on hog heaven for a measly rent like that!

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Georgia is even cheaper. Hungary is about the same. The bonus on all fronts is that the real estate investment market is wide open. In Georgia, you can still buy properties in the capital for less than $45K. They are also in the midst of a quiet fintech boom while welcoming new investment from investors fleeing places like Hong Kong. (The location of Tbilisi is very strategic.)

On the other side of the spectrum, countries like Bulgaria are becoming havens for middle class retirees from Western Europe. When I lived in Hungary, there were already even care homes for Germans who pay 75% less on their care and retirement accommodation by re-locating what is less than an hour flight from Berlin.

That market is now looking further east and so too are digital nomads. The haven for digital nomads used to be Chaing Mai in Thailand. Now rental prices there are treble what they were a few years ago. That is making many people leave.

All in all, get in on the Eastern Europe property market while you can!

Blyat

In the smaller towns in Macedonia, the real estate is quite affordable. And the irony is that most of the people from the smaller towns immigrated to Germany, Sweden, and the UK. So there is a shortage of workers - and the salaries are significantly higher than in Skopje.

In contrast, Skopje (the capital) is becoming unaffordable due to the skyrocketing-price of almost everything. The salaries are low as there is a surplus of workers (people from small towns come here).

Eastern Europe is a mixed bag. But currently, it’s the only place in the world, besides Africa that has lower wages. That makes it affordable for multinational corporations to set up factories and offices here.

My bet is that Serbia is going to develop very fast once they resolve the Kosovo issue.

Georgia as well, because they are becoming western-oriented and in general don’t like the Russians. It would be from a strategic interested for American and Western European companies to pour capital into Georgia. Also, Georgia is going to become a NATO member soon-ish.

This is my only worry about Georgia. I would prefer it if they were more friendly toward Russia and less US/EU boot licking.

The EU makes a play for making it difficult to join the block. However, as soon as you are in, they saddle you with debt and flood you with refugees.

The best examples are Iceland and Cyprus. Cyprus only joined the EU in 2004, and only joined the Eurozone in 2008. Then, (in 2008 during the financial crisis) Cypriot debt to GDP was 46%. That was 10% lower than in the year 2000. (Meaning Cyprus had a pretty healthy and well-balanced economy.)

Just 5-years later in 2013, Cypriot debt was 103% of GDP and the EU Central Bank and IMF were acting like supposed saviors of rather than architects of the problem, and forcing Cyprus to enact its now rarely mentioned bank bail-in. This saw 40% of regular Cypriot bank deposits confiscated to recapitalize banks and secure more EU and IMF loans.

You wouldn’t have a better example of daylight robbery if you stormed a bank yourself in a blue and yellow balaclava.

On the Iceland front, they took all the heat for the 2008 financial crisis and the EU tried imposing similar economy wrecking measures on the country. There, though, Iceland politicians ruled that debt which killed the Icelandic banking sector was illegal. They, therefore, refused to chase consumers for even mortgage debt. (Meaning not a single Icelandic person lost their home.) They also imprisoned EU and Icelandic bankers who had orchestrated the crisis.

You never hear a peep out of Iceland these days. However, that is only because they now have one of the strongest economies in the EU, thanks to just giving the block the middle finger.

In short, when the EU starts flirting with you, the best thing to do is tell her you’re already married and leave her at the bar to cozy up to Turkey.

As well as all that, from a purely logical sense, Russia will be the winners of WWIII, or as I like to think of it, Wold War China. In that case, I’d rather me in one of their satellite states when the bombs start falling. Afterward, things will probably become the epitome of a totalitarian nightmare. However, to survive the initial apocalypse, I’d rather be in bed with Putin than the EU or US.

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I have no idea, honestly. You better not say that Serbia and Bulgaria are the same countries with the same history, though.

Except for the excessive corruption. Plus, the Kosovo issue is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.

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Yeah, I think Serbians have just to sign a letter that they consider Bulgarian. But just people from South-East Serbia are eligible to apply for Bulgarian citizenship.

Like 10-20% of the applicants are from Serbia, 60-70% are from Macedonia and the rest is from Moldova. There was an article on Balkan Insight a while ago.

Well, Serbia and Bulgaria do not share the same history that is obvious. “Ko to kaze ko to lazhe” is a fine example :joy:

My grandpa (the Serbian one) used to hate the Bulgarians. :eyes:

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He wasn’t the only Serbian to feel that way… “Bulgarian” is an insult of sorts around here, among the more primitive folks.

It would definitely look weird if people from other parts of Serbia started claiming they were actually Bulgarians… :rofl:

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It is the Balkans, everything for an EU passport. :joy: