So recently I had a viewer send in some really critical opinions that he had about digital nomads and as a digital nomad myself, I completely disagreed with all of them and wanted to dispel these myths, so hit the video below or the article below to see what these criticisms were.
- 1 Myth 1: They exist by exploiting wealth inequality to their own advantage.
- 2 Myth 2: They exist by being lucky enough to be born in a country with a strong passport...
- 3 Myth 3: They don't pay taxes on income they earn...
- 4 Myth 4: In principle Digital Nomads should survive on residual income...
- 5 Myth 5: No just buying s*** doesn't count as contributing to the economy...
- 6 Myth 6: They drive up local housing prices by contributing to 'the ex-pat' effect...
- 7 Myth 7: They seem to go out of their way to form Digital Nomad bubbles...
- 8 Myth 8: Most of them seemed to have learned to code online....
- 9 Myth 9: Every digital nomad I've ever come across has multiple blogs, vlogs, twitter accounts, etc, etc...
- 10 Myth 10: They engage in weird self-congratulatory forums...
- 11 Conclusion
Myth 1: They exist by exploiting wealth inequality to their own advantage.
"They exist by exploiting wealth inequality to their own advantage."
Wealth inequality! What this is talking about is how the cost of living in Southeast Asia is cheaper than US or London or parts of Western Europe.
And yes, this is true. IT IS cheaper.
There is a lower cost of living, which opens up a lot of opportunities for alot of people. And isn't that what life is about? creating opportunities and be able to enjoy those opportunities?
But that's not the reason why I came out here.
And also, it is not the reason why a lot of my other friends came out here.
I mean, yes, its a nice perk and bonus, but the main reason why I chose to come out here, and a lot of my friends chose to come here -- It's just because of the political climate, and also the culture.
It is just becoming a bit too unbalanced back in the US. And also a lot of people just fed up with the high cost of living, which results a lot of just stress.
So yeah, that's the main reason why we chose to come out here. It has nothing to do about the wealth inequality.
It's just all about the peace of mind. You know, peace of mind is the most critical thing to take out of all of this.
Digital nomadism is it’s a relatively new idea and a radical paradigm shift from the traditional models that many people have when it comes to lifestyle and work, and for that reason people have really taken a interest in this new way of living and working while traveling or being in a new location and working at the same time.
To this end, many countries have adapted in many ways, such as improved cellular infrastructure, improved internet speeds and improved availability of these services which have facilitated this new market of individuals who dependent on these services in order to fulfill their lifestyle of working while traveling.
Many cities offer safe, affordable and pleasing environments which also contributes as another major factor for adopting this lifestyle, people get to escape from their current environment which might not be as savory or as safe or as affordable or have as many options for digital nomads.
According to Lauren Razavi, who was recognized as one of the world's top 75 remote work influencers by Remote.com (https://remote.com/influencer-report-2021) (https://laurenrazavi.medium.com/), believes that the presence of digital nomads
“has important benefits for local communities in developing countries”
"People born and brought up in developing countries are now able to work for companies abroad. With the rise of remote work and distributed teams, everyone has an equal chance wherever they happen to live."
As well as
“co-working venues and other aspects of a nomad-friendly infrastructure do create jobs for local economies, and a number of ambitious young people are indeed taking advantage of international connections to build remote careers, especially in the tech and creative industries”.
According to an article from Eric Muth who runs a MSP agency, (https://www.supportadventure.com/are-digital-nomads-destroying-local-culture/) he talks about
“the economical benefits that working online and digital nomads bring to the local communities”,
“In places like the Balkans and South America, South Africa, AsiaIn places like the Balkans and South America, South Africa, Asia…digital nomads are bringing western work ethics, ideas and resources.”
I agree that cross cultural collaboration and sharing of ideas is the way that people can rise out of poverty and create a better living for themselves. He goes on to say:
“Working online, from the comfort of your home can elevate your standard of living if you are a local having to survive in a bad economy. Surpassing dysfunctional systems and adopting new, functional ones gives you the opportunity to create a normal life.”,
To which I completely agree with, if you are working for a company that is located in a developed country and has strong beliefs in employing a remote workforce, this is a good way of hedging against economic swings in developing countries, such as Myanmar which recently has had issues with their government being taken over by their military, and even though their cellphone infrastructure is top notch, there are still many areas in their ways of thinking about technology industry is still lagging behind in many areas which I won’t go into in this article.
Furthermore, Eric goes on to say:
“International companies, startups, entrepreneurs with the budget, ideas and a proven system that are able to plant themselves in local communities often help those communities be more economically stable and enjoy a higher standard of living than they would be working for a local company.”
So the whole affair is not a one-sided thing, but can be more of a mutual symbiotic relationship where both parties benefit.
Myth 2: They exist by being lucky enough to be born in a country with a strong passport...
"They exist by being lucky enough to be born in a country with a strong passport, which lets them explore lots of places cheaply without scrutiny on what they might do to support themselves financially for the duration of their 'Tourist' Visa."
Ah, that's interesting one. So passports! So I was born an American citizen. So yes, I have one of the top most desired passports in the world. Aside from that, a lot of my friends were not originally US citizens. They came from other countries.
They immigrated to the US. They went through all the legal processes. They got their green cards, and then they eventually obtained citizenship.
And they developed themselves.
They build themselves up just like Drake, started at the bottom and now they got their US passport. So, yeah, I guess, you can say they weren't lucky to be born with a US passport.
But they were lucky to be born with other traits that helped them to be persistent enough and hardworking enough to get a better passport, so that if they do decide to travel, they will have an easier time with visas.
On the other part mentioned about financial support during traveling, traveling a lot of many different countries is very expensive endeavor.
So even if you just come in on savings, your savings is going to deplete after a while.
And so the true testament of a true Digital Nomad, is someone who can do it and sustain for a long time.
It's not just those people that you see, they're just like somewhere for only a few weeks or a month, and then they have to go back to their home country, save money again, and then come back.
True Digital Nomads are the ones that you see outside their home country for more than 300 days per year.
Myth 3: They don't pay taxes on income they earn...
"They don't pay taxes on income they earn in their host country by entering on Tourist Visas. Yet they live and exploit local services at the same rate as anyone else. This is... tricky in that some income earned online may not be taxable in the host country BUT..."
Well, that's an interesting one. It has to do about taxes and the legality of visas. A lot of people that I know they're here on legitimate visas.
And the people who are working locally, they DO have working visas.
So they do pay taxes.
And the unlucky part about being American citizen is that if you earn income in the host country that you had, you not only have to pay taxes to the local government but you also have to pay taxes back to the US.
So in essence, US is one of the few countries that does double taxation. So that's a bit of unlucky thing.
But I don't really know anybody who works illegally here.
I mean, I'm not saying that there aren't people who don't work illegally but all the friends that I know the people in my groups and even friends of friends. If they're working for local company they have their papers.
So they're all legal.
And also for the long run, I don't really advocate working illegally, just because when you work illegally you don't have the same rights.
So, it's really a disadvantage if you are working illegally at the host country and earning income there.
Myth 4: In principle Digital Nomads should survive on residual income...
"In principle Digital Nomads should survive on residual income from online businesses from their home country or whatever. In practice they regularly take 'gigs' in their host country, which makes what they do Illegal as well as just immoral."
So that's an interesting one. He talks about not having enough income to sustain living abroad and then taking up jobs illegally.
If you don't have income, you're gonna have to do odd jobs whatever to sustain your living. This is a matter of fact.
Now, like I said before, I don't condone any illegal working activities. If you want to work locally go through the legal processes. Get your working visas. Get hired with a company that give you legal visa. There's no way around it.
If you're not good at finances or you're not good at getting work to sustain yourself. That's just something that's up to each individual. But yeah, I don't condone anything that's illegal. If you want to have location independence then you should get a remote job or look into freelancing as a way to get started earning income and building your wealth.
Myth 5: No just buying s*** doesn't count as contributing to the economy...
"No just buying s*** doesn't count as contributing to the economy, especially when they go out of their way to not pay 'tourist' prices on local goods and services."
Well, that goes back to the same thing. Walmarts slogan, save money live better. Who wants to pay more when you can get something at a lower price? Who doesn't want to get a good price on something? Nobody's going to go out of their way to pay more for something... that doesn't make any sense, it isn't logical.
And the thing about Corona, is that it's wiped out the tourism industry. So no longer can you overpay for things anymore because the market is just not there anymore.
Myth 6: They drive up local housing prices by contributing to 'the ex-pat' effect...
"They drive up local housing prices by contributing to 'the ex-pat' effect on over inflating particular housing stock. I can't imagine there's enough digital nomads in Saigon to compete with the other issues with their housing market at present, but apparently, it’s a big problem in Lisbon and a couple of other places."
Well, that's just economics 101, my friend. So many countries in the world are always looking to give out investor visas, just for people who want to come to their country to invest in creating businesses and jobs. That's just the way things are and then you think it's bad here. I mean, it's worse in already developed countries.
If you look at California, for example, specifically Northern California and say Cupertino area, it's mostly been bought out by overseas investors. And it's driven prices through the roof not just in Cupertino, Palo Alto, San Francisco, just all over the Bay Area in California. So, it's a worldwide thing. It's not just specific to expats.
Myth 7: They seem to go out of their way to form Digital Nomad bubbles...
"They seem to go out of their way to form Digital Nomad bubbles for whatever reasons which, to me, is a contradiction of choosing to live somewhere new and different."
That's an interesting one. I mean, the reason why people like to form bubbles or circles is because you need to network.
If you don't network, it's going to be hard for you to find new clients, find work. It's going to be hard for you to get acclimated to a new place. It's going to be hard for you to make friends.
So the reason why they create these bubbles is to invite other like-minded people into the groups.
So there's nothing wrong with that at all, not a contradiction either.
It's more of like an acceleration hub. You go somewhere, you meet people who are there already, they're living in that place and then they can help you in order to get situated and learn from their mistakes, and have a more smooth experience. So, no not a contradiction at all. It's pretty normal. So let's go on to the next comment.
Myth 8: Most of them seemed to have learned to code online....
"Most of them seemed to have learned to code online which makes their qualifications rather dubious, which is mostly fine because no-one cares if people are recycling and copy-pasting other people’s code to run Etsy-store fronts or whatever it is most of them do."
There's no hard fast rule that you need to go to school to get an engineering degree or if you want to be a coder to get a computer science degree.
Most great programmers that I've read about and some of them that I happen to know -- either it's been combination of they went to school or if they didn't go to school, they did a lot of self-study and a lot of self practicing.
And then doing a lot of open source projects and contributing to those projects and learning and growing.
When you do go to formal school, they do give you a base curriculum of training. So you get a nice foundation but then after that since the technology is always changing, you're going to need to learn new things as time goes on and most schools just can't keep up with new things and trends.
But the one thing that schools do provide is a good solid foundation just like other engineering or computer science fundamentals, which you can use throughout the rest of your life.
So, even if you don't want to go college but you are good about self-studying, nothing wrong with that.
You got to get you start somewhere, and if you keep an open mind and you're a quick study then you will definitely get ahead in this industry. That's for sure. So let's go on to our next comment.
Myth 9: Every digital nomad I've ever come across has multiple blogs, vlogs, twitter accounts, etc, etc...
"Every digital nomad I've ever come across has multiple blogs, vlogs, twitter accounts, etc, etc. No-one told them being a Digital Nomad doesn't automatically make them interesting or engaging or mean they have anything meaningful to add to conversation. Which is all fine because I'm sure they're doing it for the Ad Revenue and so they can brag to their digital nomad friends about view counts and subscribers."
Well, hopefully, you guys watching this don't think I'm super boring. I would hope not.
I mean, there's a reason why you're here reading this article.
The primary reason why I do youtube is not for money or for status or anything like that, or to brag to people.
I do it because I have a passion for storytelling, I also have a passion for making videos and about the whole video production field.
If I didn't have passion, I wouldn't be lugging around more than 20 pounds of camera equipment wherever I go and trying to record things, and then spending hours after that in the editing bay, just putting everything together and just trying to see where I went wrong and what I should fix next time and improving in that.
Myth 10: They engage in weird self-congratulatory forums...
"They engage in weird self-congratulatory forums, conferences, meetings, presentations and whatever where all they seem to do is celebrate each other being digital nomads and tell other people how awesome it is. Like vegans."
Well, what do you have against vegans? Nothing wrong being vegan, whatever diet you want to have that's fine.
Self-congratulatory forums... that's funny.
You got to build your business or have multiple businesses, sustain yourself, work online, and even before the pandemic hit, working online was one of those exclusive things that not many people can do.
But after the pandemic hit now anybody can become a remote worker as long as they commit themselves to very specific skill sets.
So, I mean no one else is going to congratulate you. Only your peers are going to congratulate you.
And so the reason why they have these groups is they want to get together share information and just give each other pats on the backs for hard work.
When you do hard work, it's nice to just have like maybe one compliment and that's all you need. So nothing wrong with that.
To be a digital nomad, It's hard work, no one ever said is easy, and anyone telling that it's easy is a liar.
And so if people want to have parties about it then more power to them.
So I think that those were all the comments, and I want to thank this viewer big time for all his comments because without his comments, it wouldn't give me this thought provoking video to make. So I want to say a big thank you to him. And also a big thank you for taking the time to read this article.
I think there might be alot of fake people out there claiming to be digital nomads but are just tourists who are giving real digital nomads a bad name. But I don't know any, mainly because my inner circle is not comprised of those people. there will always be people who will want to take shortcuts in life to gain some sort of benefit in the short term, but in the long term taking shortcuts won't get you anywhere in life.
And so until next time, I'll see you on the flip-side. Stay safe, stay healthy and peace!