This is the Wayviator Newsletter — Summer Edition.
It’s the weekly newsletter from Wayviator.com.
It's been a busy week here at Wayviator HQ: we're working on the release of our first ebook.
The ebook will be available in digital book formats: EPUB, PDF, etc., and released via Gumroad this summer.
The title is tentatively: How to Be a Digital Nomad and Work Wherever You Want. It will be between 100 and 200 iPad-sized pages long and cover a wide breadth of topics, all aimed at helping people think through using remote work flexibility to travel and work in a different part of the world.
The release date, title, and price are all TBD... 😎 More news coming soon...
In one of the introductory sections of our upcoming book, we bust some myths about the term "digital nomads" to help readers broaden their minds and shake off any preconceived notions about digital nomads and remote work.
As an exclusive sneak preview for newsletter subscribers, here's an excerpt from the beginning of the book:
Excerpt from How to Be a Digital Nomad and Work Wherever You Want: (coming August 2022)
8 Myths about Digital Nomads
Myth #1 Digital nomads are all travel bloggers or content creators on Instagram and TikTok.
This is a superficial notion perpetuated by commentators with a shallow understanding of the remote work movement. A digital nomad or remote worker can do any job or run any business that allows them to work remotely. There are digital nomads who work for Microsoft, Amazon, Shopify, and Deloitte. There are digital nomads who work for smaller companies. Project managers. Accountants. Web designers. Lawyers. Doctors. Technical writers. Managers. Marketers. Salespeople. HR professionals. Photographers. Data scientists. Mechanical engineers.
If your company has a remote work policy that provides you with the ability to work remotely, you can be a digital nomad or remote worker.
You don’t have to be a blogger or influencer to be a digital nomad.
Myth #2 Digital nomads are constantly traveling and living out of their backpacks.
Digital nomads actually tend to take it slow. Studies show that the average digital nomad spends months in one location before moving on. Some digital nomads may travel like they are on a whirlwind trip to see the world — but this sub-genre comprises a minority of travelers pursuing remote work.
The majority of digital nomads are finding places they like to live and work and spending long periods of quality time there — rooted and stable — in their preferred locations.
Being a digital nomad or remote worker doesn’t necessarily mean sleeping in hostels and living out of a backpack.
Myth #3 Digital nomads must be entrepreneurs.
This myth is a cousin of Myth #1 and is reflected in biases you will see from people aggressively propagandizing the digital nomad lifestyle on YouTube and Instagram. Some guidebooks will spend entire sections talking about firing your boss, leaving your job, etc.
If you are an employee with an employer who supports remote work (and over time, more and more employers will) you can be a digital nomad.
Digital nomads do not necessarily have to support their lifestyle with content creation on social media or entrepreneurship. Any source of income, including a full-time remote job, can support a remote work lifestyle.
Myth #4 Digital nomads are usually working from a tropical island or sandy beach.
This is another trope amplified by some of the click-hungry story-writers in travel media and by influencers on Instagram. 99.999% of digital nomads are NOT literally working on the beach.
Working from the beach sucks. You'll get sand in your eyes, you’ve got the sun in your face, and it’s hard to quickly switch between taking a saltwater dip, drying off, and then focusing on a computer screen that’s barely visible from the glare of the sun.
It's true that warm-weather destinations, especially those with year-round sunshine, tend to be popular. But digital nomads can work from anywhere, including places like Tallinn, Berlin, Bansko, Riga, and more!
Virtually no one is ‘working from the beach’. Nomads are working where they are comfortable (and possibly enjoying the beach during their leisure time!).
Myth #5 Digital nomads must abandon their ‘home residence’ in order to become homeless perpetual travelers.
Most digital nomads do maintain their original residence and citizenship back home. Relinquishing one’s residence in a home country is a major life decision, and it's probably not a good strategy to do this impulsively on your first-ever workation.
Many digital nomads relocate only for a portion of the year and come home for months at a time.
Some digital nomads do go out there and adopt aggressive tax strategies where they abandon their homeland and move to, say, Dubai or Bali, for tax purposes. This could be the right move for you — if that’s your jam, talk to international tax and immigration lawyers and accountants with experience in these kinds of tax-optimization strategies.
Becoming a digital nomad doesn't necessarily mean abandoning your home country.
Myth #6 Most digital nomads are doing what they are doing to illegally avoid tax.
Okay, are some nomads hitting the road to lower their tax bill? Yes. There are many who are motivated by a streak of libertarianism and a penchant for wealth-building that aligns with some of the advantages of location independence.
Not everyone is doing what they are doing specifically to avoid taxation — even though a lower cost of living and a lower tax rate may indeed be a side effect of changing your residence to a different country.
There is a niche community of people who are digital nomads primarily to pursue optimized tax strategies and arbitrage tax rates around the world. You can look into this aspect of the remote work movement as much or as little as you like.
Myth #7 Digital nomads must be young, single, or without kids
Uprooting oneself may not be the traditional path for people with families or folks who are in an age bracket above their 20s or 30s, but anyone with a sufficient income, a plan, and a sense of optimism can find solutions that support life as a remote worker, ex-pat or digital nomad — with or without kids, and at any age.
Digital nomads can be single or with a partner. There are many remote work families with kids!
Myth #8 Digital nomads only travel to foreign countries
Not necessarily true! You can always be a nomad in your home country. Take the Californians who have decided to work in Utah, Texas or Florida... or the Dubliners who have headed to the Irish countryside to work in a rural village… or the Canadians who do remote work from cottages in Ontario, islands in the Pacific Northwest or studio apartments in downtown Montreal.
As a remote worker, you can find all kinds of places to work remotely within your own community and within the borders of your own country.
This week feels like one of the slower weeks of the year for 'new news' in the world of remote work. We won't ever fill this newsletter with bottom-of-the-barrel news stories just to fill space — today we forgo our traditional format of double-clicking on a few news stories and instead make a few observations:
Observation #1: More mainstream news stories on remote work appearing
There seems to be an increasing number of think-pieces published in major publications about the "brand new nomad lifestyle". Most of those pieces are factually true and broadly accurate about the direction of the movement.
But I think there are a few areas where these mainstream articles tend to perpetuate platitudes, repeat myths, and convey a slightly superficial view of what's actually happening.
Here are a few things they tend to get wrong:
- Highlighting New York, Seattle, San Francisco, etc., as "nomad hubs" when these cities are actually the places people are leaving to go find a lower cost of living elsewhere. Traditional tech hubs in the USA have a high cost of living and are seeing exoduses. These cities might actually be the polar opposites of typically attractive remote work cities.
- Relying too much on sound bites from CEOs and commercial real estate owners, who have a vested interest in preserving in-office norms — produces a distorted view of what opinions people hold. It's 'asking the barbers if people should have more haircuts this summer.'
- Extrapolating trends from anecdotes. Just because someone can find a story of some ill-prepared person who tried to become a digital nomad, failed, and ended up homeless in a van, it doesn't mean that a prudent remote work lifestyle transition is a financially high-risk activity for someone with a stable remote income.
I'm glad that the mainstream media continues to report on the overall remote work societal trend, and I think most of the reporting is quite strong. These are just a few areas where I feel like my primary sources and contacts are telling a different story than what makes it into Fortune and The New York Times.
Observation #2: Growing factions and subcultures emerging, divergent but loosely identifying with the digital nomad movement
I am starting to see schools of thought and quasi-political points of view emerge, diverging from the original premise that people should be able to pursue location independence into more nuanced and politicized views.
Not everyone wants to be remote for the same reasons. Here are some of the archetypical remote work 'political categories' I'm seeing:
- Sociological progressives: people who earnestly believe that remote work is a form of social progress, providing more individual freedom, equity of movement, and empowerment to many rungs of society, from the working class all the way up to the upper-middle class
- Libertarians: people who pursue remote work to reduce their tax to 0% or a very low rate, with an undercurrent of resentment against what they perceive to be increasing overreach from governments. They often talk about the desirability of certain destinations based on how little the government taxes you and how easy it is to be left alone.
- Community scene-seekers: People who are looking to find "hotspots" where the fashionability of a destination is high on their list of reasons to go. If Ko Pha Ngan is "played out" and Lisbon is now "on the rise" with the cool kids, well, the community scene-seeker might factor that heavily into their decision. Typical issues of gatekeeping, hipsterism, and snobbery about who an "authentic" digital nomad is are the Achilles heel of this group.
- Remote teamwork thought leaders: These folks really care about the nitty-gritty of management and teamwork theory. They want to evangelize "best practices" for remote work. How remote work can be practiced, as a vocation, is a passion for them. These people are like the people who evangelized "mobile technologies in the office" in 2010, "the Internet in the office" in 2000, and "computers in the office" in 1990. They have a lot of wisdom to share about how "the future of the office is no office" — but their audience-building is directed more at people who work at larger companies.
- The Silent Majority: no, I'm not getting political or referring to them the way President Nixon did. The silent majority of remote workers, in this context, is the vast iceberg. Every category I mentioned in prior bullets was just the tip.
We see and hear from the tip of the iceberg every day on social media, but most of the people who will ultimately be affected by social media are still silent: inquiring, learning, reading, and quietly getting remote work-curious.
More and more of them are sending messages to my inbox, asking how they can take their first steps toward a remote work lifestyle: ("..we've never done anything like this before..", "...it's a bit scary...", "...do you have any tips...").
That's part of the reason we spent this week putting some of the finishing touches on the first draft of our ebook.
I believe hundreds of millions of people will untether themselves from a physical office between now and 2030. It could be billions by the next decade!
We're just getting started!
Thanks for continuing to check in on our weekly newsletter — which will always be free.
See you next week with more news about the book, some more interesting news from the world of remote work, and a refreshed design for this newsletter to coincide with our official book launch announcement.
Around The Web 🍿 Quick links to remote work news and videos
Costa Rica receives first requests for digital nomad visas
The desire for professional work-from-home spaces is changing how developers in New York City build luxury buildings
Are employers and managers "navel-gazing" too much in the remote work debate?
2022 Travel Essentials for digital nomads on YouTube with Laura and Nicholas
Lauren Razavi on what most people get wrong about digital nomads