The coronavirus pandemic has led to more people opting for a nomadic lifestyle as it's accelerated the trend toward remote working, which had already gained momentum in various parts of the world.
It's estimated that there are over 15.5 million digital nomads worldwide, and this number continues to grow.
Who are digital nomads?
Digital nomads are travelers who earn a living by working online while exploring the world. A laptop and a good internet connection is almost all they need to get their work done. That's why you'll usually find them in coffee shops or co-working spaces.
Some digital nomads travel independently, while others participate in digital nomad programs to travel in a more organized way.
These location-independent professionals come in all shapes and sizes, but they have one thing in common: a passion for travel, adventure, and freedom.
What are the most popular areas of work for digital nomads?
Slow-traveling remote workers work in a variety of fields, including information technology (19%), creative services (10%), education and training (9%), consulting, coaching and research (8%), sales, marketing and PR (8%), and finance and accounting (8%).
Thanks to the growth of remote work in the wake of COVID-19, the number of digital nomads with a traditional job increased from 6.3 million in 2020 to 10.2 million in 2021, meaning they kept their old job but chose to work remotely while traveling.
The number of independent remote workers increased by 15% in 2021. Statistics show that 35% of digital nomads work for a company, 28% are freelancers, and 18% are business owners.
How much do digital nomads earn?
According to a FlexJobs survey, 1 in 5 digital nomads earn between $50,000 and $99,999 per year. The average salary in the United States is $55,629.
A study by MBO Partners found that 44% of American digital nomads earn $75,000 or more a year. It's estimated that 56% of remote professionals earn less than $75,000 a year.
Aside from entrepreneurs, engineers and programmers tend to earn more than other professionals.
How much can digital nomads save in a year?
What makes the nomadic lifestyle attractive to many people is the ability to move to affordable destinations. It's said that most digital nomads save more than $4,000 per year by working remotely.
It's true that digital nomads may only earn a small salary at first. But they can save on costs like commuting and rent by working from countries where the cost of living is relatively low.
And if they're dedicated to their remote work, they can build a solid network of clients to boost their income while benefiting from this lifestyle.
Do digital nomads travel all the time?
Some assume that digital nomads are constantly traveling. But that's not the case. Statistics show that most of them don't lead a nomadic life 100% of the time.
The majority of working travelers typically spend 1 to 3 months or 3 to 6 months in each destination country. Only a small percentage (9%) visit more than 10 countries in a year.
FlexJobs reports that 73% visit 1 or 2 countries, 19% visit between 3 and 4, and 8% visit more than 5 countries in a 12-month period.
Where do digital nomads stay?
Most long-distance travelers stay in hotels (51%). Forty-one percent stay with friends and family, 36% use rental platforms, and 21% opt for a car, van, or RV. Six percent of digital nomads use travel programs and 5% live in shared apartments.
Do digital nomads work less?
Some people associate digital nomadism with working less. Studies show that 70% of working travelers work 40 hours a week or less. A third of them even work over 40 hours a week.
The digital nomad lifestyle may seem like a holiday, but the average vacation time for most digital nomads is between 11 and 15 days.
Are digital nomads more productive?
An analysis of thousands of remote workers shows that remote workers, including digital nomads, are 35% to 40% more productive than office workers.
A FlexJobs study backs up this data: 68% of remote workers have fewer interruptions, for 55% the lack of office politics is a major benefit, 68% are more productive because they work in a quieter environment, and 63% can focus better when working from home.
These benefits are largely attributed to having a comfortable home base and a set routine. Digital nomads who settle down for several months at a time are said to be more productive than those who are constantly on the go.
What's the average age of a digital nomad?
In 2021, the average digital nomad was 32 years old. Statistics show that 44% of nomads are Millennials (26-41 years old) and 21% belong to Gen Z.
Baby Boomers (ages 58-76) made up only 12% of digital nomads last year, as many chose to return to the safety of their homes due to the risk of infection during the pandemic. However, this number could increase as COVID-19 subsides.
What do digital nomads look like?
The digital nomad community is a diverse bunch, with traveling workers from different countries. Studies reveal that 76% of nomads are white, 10% are Latino or Hispanic, 8% are Asian, and 6% are black.
Americans (31%), Portuguese (8%), Germans (7%), and Brazilians (5%) are the most common nationalities, accounting for 51% of digital nomads worldwide.
Men and women split almost evenly—50.19% and 49.81%, respectively. In terms of relationship status, 55% of nomads are in a relationship.
As the demographic makeup of digital nomads continues to change post-pandemic, these statistics could change completely by the end of 2022.
What are the biggest challenges for digital nomads?
Being a digital nomad gives you more freedom to explore the world, but it also comes with its own challenges. Finding reliable Wi-Fi is one of the biggest challenges for working travelers.
In a FlexJobs survey, 52% of digital nomads cited finding reliable Wi-Fi as one of their biggest challenges. This is mostly due to unpredictable hotel Wi-Fi, slow mobile hotspots, dodgy internet cafes, and security issues related to shared Internet use.
In addition, 29% of digital nomads find it difficult to work with their colleagues in other time zones. Twenty percent find it difficult to communicate with the people they work with.
According to a study by Anywhere Workers, 30% of remote workers find lack of communication the most difficult part of their job.
Feelings of loneliness are also common among nomads who have been on the road for less than a year (33%).
However, long-term nomads seem to have become accustomed to spending more time alone, citing overwork (33%) and lack of career advancement (25%) as the biggest problems they face.
There's no denying that being a digital nomad isn't easy. But the statistics show that it's worth it.
After all, 85% of nomads are satisfied with their job and income. So there's no reason why you shouldn't find your dream remote job and figure out how to make it work for you.
A new trend led by Vanlifers
The number of so-called "Vanlifers" has increased post-pandemic. Vanlifers refer to individuals who convert their vehicles into nomadic residences in order to live and work. In 2021, there were 2.6 million Vanlifers.
They choose this lifestyle for a variety of reasons, including finding it expensive to travel and book accommodations at various destinations. Now, 21% of digital nomads use their van as an office.
In addition, many nomads prefer not to spend much on a workspace. Only 19% of them work in co-working spaces. Therefore, most of them (46%) work from their hotel or hostel.
Local cafes, rental apartments, and a library are the choice of 45%, 27% and 20% of nomads, respectively, when it comes to where they want to work.
The future of digital nomadism
Every day, more people are embracing the digital nomad lifestyle. This includes freelancers, corporate employees, retirees, solopreneurs, and digital nomad families.
This is reflected in the fact that Google search results for "digital nomad" increased from 1,300,000 in January 2019 to over 56,700,000 in January 2022 as many governments began to ease travel restrictions.
According to surveys, 24 million Americans intend to become digital nomads in the next 2 to 3 years.
Another 41 million Americans are considering this lifestyle, representing a 20% increase in interest since 2020.
So the long-term future of digital nomadism looks bright, especially since the pandemic has shown that many people don't need a fixed location or office to get their work done effectively.
Many companies were hesitant to adopt this new form of work at the beginning of the remote work revolution sparked by the pandemic. However, a growing number of companies, large and small, are making a permanent transition to remote working.
Companies that don't offer their employees the flexibility of remote work risk losing their best talent. In fact, 30% of remote workers say they'd move to a new company if they'd to go into the office.
All of these developments could significantly impact the way people work and live in 2022 and the years to come and help digital nomadism continue to evolve around the world.