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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

The Nomad’s New Groove

The lifestyle of a digital nomad is bringing with it happiness abounds

A term once used strictly by medical professionals and patients, “quality of life” has come to mean many things to many different people. For some, quality of life refers to their personal fulfilment, to others it means their connections with their families and closest friends, for some people, quality of life refers to their freedom, and so on and so forth. There is a relatively new concept of the quality of life that is referred to as remote freedom. Specifically, this refers to individuals that live their lives as digital nomads. Taking the concept of a nomad to an entirely new level (and revolution), individuals that opt to live this lifestyle do so because they centre quality of life on their freedom to be whatever, wherever, whenever. As a digital nomad, one can create their professional schedule around their personal lifestyle, effectively ensuring that their quality of life is to the fullest, as they travel around the globe, living life to the fullest. The very concept of a life lived on the road (or off the beaten track) is one that is often deemed to be risky to the majority, and while this judgement is fair, it is also not entirely on point. While the idea of uprooting one’s life to pursue a life as a digital nomad was once alien, it is not only becoming normal, but increasingly popular.

Genuinely happy people tend to have similar – if not the same – habits. Positivity, maintaining an active lifestyle, spending time and money on the ones most precious to them, they appreciate the little things in life, they surround themselves with the right people, and they actively give energy only to what serves them in a progressive way. Essentially, what most of these habits have in common is that they give an individual a sense of purpose. Purpose gives individuals a sense of content. It is human nature to be driven by goals and passions, but too often people are side tracked by the lesser, darker aspects of life – even if they are not healthy habits, that does not mean that the individual engaging with them realises this. In the last few years, digital nomads have begun to increase because the lifestyle of such an individual provides that person with the key habits to ensure good quality of life. Travelling allows individuals to make sense of the world on their own terms, while driving their career forward and taking the time out of their day to actively engage with their most loved ones – all things that can sometimes be taken for granted, or entirely put on the back burner – when at home. There are definitely risks – as there are with anything – but digital nomads rarely take flight without a backup plan (or at the very least, some savings and travel insurance to get home if needed).

There is absolutely something to be said for the risks involved in pursuing the lifestyle of a digital nomad. Aside from the standard financial risks that some people believe with inevitably occur, there is also the risk of loneliness, geographic isolation in countries that do not speak an individual’s native language, as well as numerous other potential risks. There is risk in anything – it is a fact of life. It can absolutely be hard to begin a career as a digital nomad – particularly if one is a recent graduate, or only just starting out in the field that they wish to pursue – but there are countless online platforms now available that cater to finding remote work, as well as a recent (and continuous) rise in companies that are choosing to hire both geographically and remotely. It is advantageous to hire individuals for remote positions for one very important reason: the perfect person for the position is not always the person that can physically get to the office. With the continued movement to a digitized world, remote work is only going to become more popular. Cities all over the world are continuously being added to the list of desirable locations for digital nomads to (temporarily, or indefinitely) home.  The inevitable consequence of this is that these cities (and those wanting to accumulate the same financial value of allowing such individuals to live among them) are always searching for new ways to capitalise on the presence of the digital nomads in their midst (and their hometowns).

As well as the stereotypical risks and concerns, there are the personal stumbles that come with choosing the life of an always-on-the-move traveller. Sometimes full time travellers get lost (both literally and figuratively) and forget important events (or they miss them because they are geographically unable to be there).They forget to send birthday messages to friends because they simply do not have the desire to check into Facebook as much anymore to even notice when the people on their friends’ lists have a birthday approaching. Living life as a digital nomad is not all Instagram-worthy travel shots and beautiful adventures. Sometimes it means spending hours upon hours stuck in an airport on a layover. Sometimes being a digital nomad means scrambling to find a connection to call home because they miss home so much they feel sick. Like any lifestyle choice, it has its drawbacks. For every drawback, however, there is a point to counteract it. If an individual misses their family, they can visit home.

The lifestyle is not for everyone, but there are multiple reasons that more and more individuals are actively seeking out this kind of lifestyle.

There are so many ways to effectively become a digital nomad, and yet most of them are not public knowledge. The general assumptions about working remotely are that it is hard to find work in the first place, the money does not come close to what one would make in the same office they have been in for five years, and so on. Most of these assumptions are built on genuine concerns and limitations, but those concerns and limitations are often outdated and biased. The fact is that living life as a digital nomad can not only increase one’s financial independence, but their scope and grasp on life and the important things that make up that life. For the typical digital nomad, quality of life is most associated with geographical freedom, financial independence, and strengthened connection with their loved ones – even from across an ocean. While this lifestyle is not for everyone, there is certainly something in it for the free-spirited wanderer, for the risk taker, and for anyone that wants to disassociate with society’s norm and break out into their own definition of what it means to truly love life.

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