Samantha Scott doesn’t miss her daily commute to London, especially “the fear of having to wake up and get on the tube, and head to work sweaty and hectic.” I always wake up at 6 or 7 in the morning, but I can take a walk on the beach before I start working.
When she and her partner Chris Cerra arrive with their luggage in a new city, they can easily be mistaken for tourists. But they are part of a new generation of “digital nomads” who jump from country to country to live and work.
The global shift to flexible working triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic means more and more people are considering abandoning their long-term homes to fly around the world, working from their laptops, tablets or smartphones.
Last week, an Airbnb report titled Travel & Living showed that 11% of the company’s long-term bookings in 2021 reported living a nomadic lifestyle, and 5% plan to forgo their primary residence.
Delia Colantuono, a 31-year-old freelance translator from Rome, became a digital nomad five years ago when it wasn’t a “big deal”.
She has now lived on all five continents and says the nomadic lifestyle is “not just for the rich – it’s for anyone who can and wants to work remotely.”
Many places are keen on attracting long-term visitors, which means good deals can be found. Colantuono rents a villa in Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands with three other nomads for € 450 (£ 390) per month each.
Cerra, 28, a technical research and development consultant for a finance boutique, lived in several cramped shared flats in London and then rented an apartment with a friend for £ 1,000 per month per person. Since becoming a nomad, accommodation costs have ranged from £ 300 in Asia to over £ 1,000 in Stockholm, Sweden.
High-speed wifi is at the top of the nomadic wish list, followed by a good workspace – a desk or a large dining table – a decent kitchen and comfortable beds.
Chanin Kaye, 51, and his partner Jason Melton, 46, are six months away on a seven-year road trip between Mexico and Argentina, spending about a month in each city. They decided to leave their Seattle home because they love to travel and save money to pay off heavy student debt.
“Seattle has a very high cost of living,” says Kaye. “We had a big house with two other roommates – and we were still paying $ 2,400 (£ 1,690) per month including utilities. Here [in Mexico] we never pay more than $ 1,200 all inclusive, and often less. “
They realized during the pandemic that they could stay in touch with their adult children from a distance “and feel close even when we are not physically close”.
Melton quit his sales job and the couple now run a remote accounting business that Kaye started. “We work all day and go on adventures all weekend,” she says.
Kaye estimates the couple have saved 70% by living on the road and want to get out of debt within five years – and possibly buy a property somewhere.
Colantuono and others are aware of the environmental impact of their jet-set lifestyle and ultimately want to settle down. Several people, writing on a Facebook digital nomadic forum with 15,500 members, say age is not a barrier, but stress the importance of being fit and healthy; and it is said that a downside to this way of life could be a feeling of being uprooted.
There don’t seem to be many digital nomadic families with children; traditionally, only a few families – who are usually homeschooled – have traveled the world. Erin Elizabeth Wells, a 41-year-old productivity consultant from Massachusetts, began traveling to the United States with her husband and daughter Eleanor, who are almost four now, in October 2018, and says they are a “family. global education ”.
Traveling as a family means they travel slowly, but it does mean they make friends wherever they go, she adds. They live in Airbnbs or other fully furnished rentals and “plan to go on and on until there’s a reason our family needs something else.”
As parts of the world gradually reopen after Covid restrictions, a growing number of people are enjoying new flexibility to work from anywhere. Last year, nearly one in five Airbnb guests used the site to travel and work remotely; and this year, 74% of people through its survey in five countries expressed an interest in living elsewhere than where their employer is based. Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, said, “The lines between travel, life and work are blurring.”
Cerra says, “For a long time this type of lifestyle was considered really, really outside the box. What we are seeing is that everything tends to become a little more normal now, more accepted. “