Imagine it's Monday morning and instead of dragging yourself out of bed and commuting to the office, you snooze until you are fully awake then start the day with some yoga on the beach before settling down with your laptop on the terrazza of a café, your productivity aided by the stunning sea views. Imagine you work just the hours you need to, leaving you free to meet up with new traveller friends, relax on the beach or explore your current 'home' town. Imagine this is your daily routine: no commute, no office hours, travelling the world and living for a month or two in a new city or country before moving on. Unattainable fantasy? Well, maybe not.
For many digital nomads – location-independent travellers who work remotely – this is the reality. Taking advantage of cheaper air travel, better global internet connection and advances in technology that not only allow us to be in constant contact with people all over the world, but reduce the need for workers to physically be in the office to get the job done, the global digital nomad community is expanding rapidly.
Working from cafés, co-working spaces, or the terrace of their short-term Airbnb apartment, they are free to travel the world, setting up home (and office) wherever they fancy, and staying for as long as they please – or as long as their tourist visa allows. As a result, nomad hotspots full of busy co-working spaces have sprung up around the world in popular backpacker locations such as Chiang Mai and Ubud, and cheap European cities such as Lisbon. Online communities connect people with other nomads living or travelling in the same area and provide a network for advice and support, while companies such as Remote Year and Unsettled offer the chance to try out the nomadic lifestyle with more structure and organisation.
In an uncertain post-Brexit-vote Britain where the normal milestones of adult life – like a secure job, stable income or home ownership – appear unattainable for many millennials, the appeal of this nomadic lifestyle is obvious: freedom, a healthy work/life balance with an emphasis on the pursuit of happiness, and the chance to travel the world while working, not to mention that a salary paid in sterling goes a lot further in Thailand than it does in London.
But what about the less Instagram-friendly aspects of this lifestyle? Of course it's not all working from a hammock on the beach, but could digital nomadism offer a sustainable long-term alternative for a displaced generation deprived of job security and affordable homes? Ahead, we speak to four digital nomads about the reality of living the remote-working dream.