Find Out if You’re an Expat or a Digital Nomad

Sitting in on the beach with your toes in the sand, sipping a Mai-Tai and coding the next ground breaking app. Does that sounds too good to be true? Well, that’s because it usually is.

Search #digitalnomad on social media and you will see an onslaught of pictures with people in all kinds of strange positions with their laptops in locations that would be pretty inappropriate to concentrate on any kind of serious task.

That does not mean that it is all smoke an mirrors however. There was a very interesting Harvard Study done about the reality of the self-proclaimed digital nomads, the results of which were written about in an article entitled Globetrotting Digital Nomads: The Future Of Work Or Too Good To Be True? I think it’s one of the best articles written on the topic. It turns out there are very few people who have staying power as a digital nomad.

So is being a digital nomad a viable long term path or a risky career gamble?

To answer that question Brian David Crane gave a talk entitled The Hidden Downsides of Being A Digital Nomad in which went over many of the unrealistic aspects of the digital nomad lifestyle. I thought it was well thought out and he made some interesting points to consider.

Three things that he says are essential in order to have staying power as a digital nomad are:

  1. A plan
  2. An in-demand skill
  3. Self-discipline

Some of the drawbacks that he points out are:

  • Undeveloped “Plate Discipline” which is knowing what to spend your time on once you are free from an office.
  • Lack of mentorship.
  • Your appearance can cause envy or perceptions that could jeopardize your career.
  • Lack of sustainable momentum.
  • Road fatigue.
  • Lack of stability.
  • An unhealthy mix of friendship and business.

However, that does not mean that working abroad is a bad option. He recommends to stop thinking of yourself as a nomad and more of an expat. Expats stay longer than a few months in at least one base where they have some kind of roots established.

After listening to this talk I realized that I am an expat and not a digital nomad, even though I have described myself as such in the past. This is a good realization because these bases could also be described as flags for which to apply PT Theory.

Much of what he recommends is similar to what I recommended in my recent video How to make money in Latin America.

At the end of the day the distinction may seem like we are splitting hairs but I think there are some important things to consider.

Please take a listen to my conversation with Brian David Crane on this topic, especially if you are thinking about taking the digital nomad plunge.

Also, check out his app CallerSmart.

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