What Is A Digital Nomad? – Working On The Road

What Is A Digital Nomad

I found out fairly recently that there is a term for this condition of which I am afflicted. It is called Digital Nomad. One who works digitally and is location independent.

It kind of makes sense now.


A few months ago when the boyf and I were discussing our future options we came up with this idea. An idea which we considered relatively original.

We figured that most of my work (bar the social media in-house training) was online and as such I could work from anywhere as long as it had an internet connection. We had got to a point of change where our housing situation was to be considered and after some events of last year, we decided that the best thing for us both would be to move our operations abroad for a short while.

You see, I have been earning a little bit but not quite enough to be sustainable enough to rent in the UK. Besides, we don’t have a particular affiliation with one place in the UK, with both our families spread out all over the country and as a couple have moved 5 or 6 times in 4 years.

Digital Nomad

We had met in Chiang Mai, Thailand and knew the city fairly well. We worked out that despite the flights out here our cost of living would be significantly lower than living in the UK.

Plus, you know, the sunshine. (I am NOT good with winter – hello, S.A.D.!)

In a bit of a moment of spontaneity, we decided that the best move would be to head over to Chiang Mai in Thailand for a few months to work on work-y stuff, enjoy the better climate, and figure out where we want to go next.

What we hadn’t realised was that loads of other folks had figured out something pretty similar. The expat community here is HUGE. Here we discovered this term Digital Nomad: a person who works online and is location independent. Pretty cool, huh?

There we were thinking we were being brave, courageous, and slightly crazy … when in fact loads of people are doing it.

OK, we probably are still considered slightly crazy, but we are not alone in that.

As such we have met some incredibly interesting folks out here. It’s not just packaged tourists and backpackers. There are people who work in creative, enterprising and downright hack-central ways – it’s inspiring.

There are writers, bloggers, programmers, business owners, PPC-ers, SEO specialists, developers, copywriters, designers, e-commerce-rs and more.

Chiang Mai has significantly changed since we were last here in 2010, and apparently, the rate of development in the past two years has been particularly dramatic.

It is now coffee shops galore here, with co-working spaces opening up every few weeks. There is free wifi in pretty much every food and beverage establishment. Even the massage places advertise it. Want to manage your social media during a foot rub?

Obviously, the cost and ease of living is a big draw here with dinner costing between 50p (our favourite Pad Thai street food man charges around 40p) and £3 to eat out, one room apartments costing around £120 a month, and mobile pay-as-you-go deals costing £15 for 12GB of internet. I feel lucky to be able to get a manicure and pedicure for £10. I can get a foot massage for £4. And transport to the other side of the city is less than £1.

Yeah, it’s easy to see why Chiang Mai has a whole bunch of digital nomads spending time here. It’s becoming quite the hub, and the locals are making the most of that with brand new serviced apartments being built all over the outskirts of the city.

The fact that being a Digital Nomad is reassuring in some ways. I think that our style of working will change as digital continues to impact every part of our life. It certainly suits my unconventional style of living. I was never really one for office life.

What does our future hold? Who knows? We have some ideas up our sleeve and lots of potential plans. Now we just need to make a few more decisions and see what interesting adventures we can come up with next.

Today Chiang Mai, tomorrow … ?


If you want some travel inspiration, for both the UK and abroad, check out our blog Awesome Wave.

  1. I find this really interesting, and admire you for it. I like the idea of being a digital nomad – working alongside travelling the world, finding home in coffee shops and public spaces, making money online to pay for the next flight. But when I think about it I don’t think I actually want to give up my home… I think I would always long for my own space away from anyone else. I could see myself doing it for a few weeks, maybe even months, but not sure I could do it all the time. Home office it is, then. Now to make things work so I have the choice, rather than commuting to someone else’s office in town every day.

    1. Thanks for the comment Zoe!

      It’s certainly an interesting experience and has its ups and downs / pros and cons. Whether we do this forever, who knows?! But I wanted to give it a try. I always like to explore alternative ways of living.

      I’m totally the same re: space. After a month or so in hostels I was ready for own space. Luckily we were able to find a small apartment to rent for a month and its been bliss. I think when you’re working you have different needs to when you are travelling solely for pleasure. We are learning that there is a constant balancing act. It’s a challenge.

      But good luck in the journey towards home office! It’s something I’ve enjoyed very much and know I’ll probably go back to at some point in my future. Let us know how it goes!

  2. It’s been so exciting and inspiring to see your adventures around the world Elizabeth. Do you know the blog Bridges and Balloons I met Victoria at Oh Comely magazine and she’s another successful digital nomad.

    And, on that note, I saw this advertised and I definitely thought of you:

    Frances x

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