We live in a time where nothing seems to last forever and it’s ok to question if one can ever stop being a digital nomad. So, if you’re wondering whether to take this step but you’re a little concerned if this is the right choice, don’t worry because it’s 100% reversible.
Theoretically speaking, you quit digital nomadism when you settle in one place and “get a real job”. But I think the actual question goes way deeper and, therefore, the answer is more complicated than that.
First things first, what do we mean by digital nomad?
First of all, we have to agree on a definition. We all know that a digital nomad is someone who works remotely online and is, therefore, location independent.
We have 2 extremes, that I think fit into this definition: on one hand, the “serial travellers” who stay in one place for a couple of months and then go somewhere else, and repeat this again and again; on the other hand, the “sedentary nomads”, who spend most of the year in one place and travel just for a shorter time. In between, we have the “fifty shades of nomadism”, with people who keep coming back to the same spots (like many Dojo members), or others who spend several months in one place before changing and so on.
So, now we have an idea of what we are talking about but I think that to properly answer the question of when to quit, we also need to consider why do people become digital nomads.
Why do you become a digital nomad in the first place?
To put it in a very simple way, I think first of all it’s a deep need for freedom. Freedom to have the world at your feet, travel whenever and wherever you want, make deep connections with like-minded people, get to know different cultures, environments and nurture your soul with your daily discoveries. The sky is the limit, you can literally go anywhere, without needing to commit to any place. And this makes you feel so damn good!
Can this ever stop? The need for freedom, for being location independent to explore the world is something that can only stop when you don’t want it anymore. Since we are talking about something internal, no external circumstance can take it away from you. You might have to settle somewhere, because of whatever reasons, but this deep desire will always stay, until you realize it’s over. It has to be your conscious choice.
You stop being a digital nomad when you’re ready
I think that, similarly to feeling the need to explore the world, there can be a time when you actually wanna stop and settle. To me, this means that you are ready. When you start travelling, you feel unstoppable and you know this is what you’ve always wanted. You’re excited about all the possibilities and can’t wait for the new adventures to come.
But there might be a point in your life, when you realize that you haven’t had a home in the past years, you kept changing accommodation, compromising on all of them because you knew they were for short term anyways and the investment wasn’t worthy. You might also be tired of having to say goodbye to your friends every now and then and to have to start all over again in a new place.
If these and other aspects start to annoy you, it means that you are ready to move to another chapter of your life. And feeling ready is the only possible way for you to quit digital nomadism. Otherwise, you would still feel the need to travel. And the idea of settling in one place would make you sick.
From what I could observe, there’s not a specific age to settle. It really depends on the individual’s journey, life experiences and character. It probably also has something to do to when you started travelling, how long have you been moving around, what’s your vision for your life.
Where do former digital nomads settle?
To make things even more complicated, let’s talk about the location where people settle, after having seen the world and having lived the greatest adventures. Some go back to their home countries, others go to a big city somewhere else and so on.
But I have also seen some who created their base in a digital nomad location, like Bali. They buy a house or rent one for a very long time, like 10 years. They still work from a co-working space (I’ve seen quite a few at Dojo), online, on the same business they had when they first came. Are they still digital nomads because of their location, the nature of their? What do you think?
I think the whole concept of digital nomadism has so many shades that make it very hard to define who falls in the category and who doesn’t. This choice is all about freedom, in all its aspects. At the end of the day, the beauty of it, is that being able to work remotely gives you the ultimate power to create your life as you wish: you can travel, you can settle; you can move from a country to the other or have your home base; you can call yourself a digital nomad or not. It’s all up to how you like it in that specific time of your life. Nothing about this lifestyle is irreversible!
If this freedom excites you and you want to become a digital nomad but don’t know how to start, I can help you with that: I work as a coach for aspiring nomads. Find out more on my website!
Also published on Medium.