- A staggering 33% of digital nomads worldwide had an income level between $100,000 and $250,000 U.S. dollars per year.
- Although lucrative and flexible, the digital nomad lifestyle is facing some criticism online, and some claim that these nomads contribute to gentrification.
- On the positive, digital nomads bolster the economies of the cities they visit.
There are about 40 million digital nomads worldwide, most of whom are from the United States. This is surprising considering that in 2017, only 2.9% of the total U.S. workforce were able to work from home at least half of the time, according to FlexJobs.
34% of these workers earn $50k–$100k per year, according to Moneyzine data. Only about 7% of the digital nomad community earned less than $25,000 annually, and a staggering 33% of digital nomads worldwide had an income level between $100,000 and $250,000 per year.
CEO of Moneyzine Jonathan Merry said, “Thanks to the internet, there’s now no reason to be stuck at a desk job and tied down in one place. Remote workers — including digital nomads — are more productive. They have fewer distractions and interruptions and can focus better when disconnected from the office. In addition, some digital nomads earn more than others because they have a larger following and focus on higher-paying freelance projects and certifications.”
So, are digital nomads more productive?
There has been some debate lately about whether digital nomads are as productive as their in-office counterparts.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, remote workers are 35%–40% more productive than their in-office counterparts.
According to FlexJobs, remote workers are more productive because they experience fewer interruptions and a more comfortable workplace.
Remote work is growing rapidly as companies realize how much more productive their employees are when they don’t have to come into the office full-time.
These are the biggest challenges for digital nomads
While working as a digital nomad allows for working from anywhere in the world, it has some drawbacks, such as having to learn to take breaks/vacations in new and interesting ways while still being productive.
It is also possible that digital nomads’ social life could suffer since they most likely won’t have coworkers nearby. Still, the concept of digital nomadism is gaining popularity due to the level of flexibility that the lifestyle provides.
Opinions on the digital nomad lifestyle are varied
To many, the idea of this type of globe-trotter lifestyle seems ideal. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of this way of working, there have been some negative consequences for the cities where digital nomads visit/live.
On the subreddit “r/digitalnomad” with 1.7 million people, one user asked the question, “Is being a digital nomad a good or bad thing for the world?” This question garnered 350+ comments, which are on both sides of the fence. Many users said that digital nomads drive up the rent prices in the cities they live in, and that traveling by plane often is not helpful in mitigating climate change.
One user commented, “In Bali (Canggu area), it drives up rents like crazy; average local people can’t afford to live there, but the positive side is local economy is thriving.”
Essentially, digital nomads may be unknowingly gentrifying the cities they visit.
Mexico in particular has become a hub for digital nomads, but some locals are asking these remote workers to stay away as the cost of living increases in the area, according to EuroNews.Travel.
Mexico is an affordable living destination for many nomads, especially if they’re being paid in U.S. dollars or Euros. Its great climate, natural beauty, good food and growing abundance of coworking and coliving spaces makes it extra appealing to the nomad community.
According to the popular remote worker website Nomad List, Mexico City is the fifth fastest growing remote work hub in the world. According to an autonomous University of Mexico study, nearly a third of Mexico City residents had to move homes during the pandemic; most cited unaffordable rent as a contributing factor.
“Those who are too quick to celebrate the benefits of remote working should be more sensitive to the nuanced impacts of WFH on minorities and gentrification,” said Antonio M Bento, Professor of Public Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California.
On the positive, digital nomads bolster the economies of the cities in which they visit.
One user on r/digitalnomads said “when people bring money into your local economy, it provides jobs and opportunities for locals. When visitors come, they spend money from outside the local economy, providing additional trade surplus. They will help support new hotels, restaurants and bars. Those businesses will employ more people and those people will spend more money. This additional economic activity will eventually cause housing values to increase, benefiting all owners.”