Working for themselves, 'digital nomads' look beautiful

Leave the traditional workplace and continue to earn income online

Youth school workplace

  "Vagabond" originally refers to people who have no land to cultivate and are displaced.

And with the word "digital" as a prefix, it has been endowed with new connotations.

"Digital nomad" now specifically refers to a lifestyle that relies on the Internet and mobile devices to work, leaves the traditional workplace, breaks the constraints of working time and space, and continues to earn income online.

This new work and lifestyle is increasingly sought after among young people.

Traveling while working "I never want to go back to the traditional workplace"

  "Tick tock, tick tock..." At 4:00 in the morning, on a small bed in a youth hostel in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the alarm clock rang.

Yeye turned over and got up, turned on the computer, put on the earphones, and clicked to enter "Video Conference".

The other end of the screen is in China, at exactly 5 pm Beijing time.

  From the Eurasian continent to South America, across the vast Pacific Ocean, the Internet connects Yeye and his colleagues in the two places.

  This is Yeye's work and life status.

When many workers in the workplace go to work from 9 to 6, she works four to five hours a day, "does not live in a fixed place", travels around after work, changes towns or cities every week, and changes countries every two or three months.

  Yeye usually lays back in bed after the 20-minute meeting in the morning to catch up on sleep, wakes up and gets up to deal with work, and goes out with a backpack in the afternoon to play.

  She once defined her life as a slow travel in South America as a backpacker working with a computer.

Later, she realized that she had become a "digital nomad" without knowing it.

  Previously, Yeye was a standard white-collar worker.

After graduating from a bachelor's degree in 2016, she entered a social enterprise in Beijing to work, rented a living room on the second ring road, and took a 10-minute ride to her office on the third ring road to work.

The corporate culture is open, the relationship between colleagues is friendly, and the salary is good, but she always feels that "something is missing".

  After resigning in 2018, she bought a plane ticket to Bogota, Colombia.

Unexpectedly, the originally planned vacation turned into a sojourn, and the stay lasted for three years.

She travels while working, traveling to many countries: Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru...

  During this period, her work and income were divided into two parts: full-time and part-time. She worked as a remote project manager in the company, marketing overseas education projects, while working as a spoken language coach, occasionally as a jewelry buyer, and as a freelance writer.

Her overall income is about 20%-30% lower than when she was in Beijing, but her monthly expenses do not exceed 5,000 yuan, and she can still have a few thousand yuan in savings.

  Working, traveling, not in a hurry, and learning Spanish by the way... This kind of life makes Yeye never want to return to the traditional workplace.

  From 2021, she gave up her full-time job and became a promoter of the "digital nomad" lifestyle. She created content through self-media, and opened a "digital nomad" shared office space in Dali with her friends.

Cracking the Dilemma of Loneliness and Building a "Home" for "Digital Nomads"

  The "nomadic" life isn't always pretty.

During the journey, loneliness will always hit you inadvertently.

In 2019, Yeye returned from South America and stayed in a youth hostel in Xinjiang. When other tourists discussed going camel riding and sand boarding, she worked from 7 am to 9 pm.

"I didn't have anyone to work with at the time, but it would have been better to have a 'digital nomad' with me. I was so lonely in that moment."

  As a senior "digital nomad" who has been "nomadic" for more than ten years, Xu Song has found a way out of the dilemma of loneliness.

Xu Song and his wife have been wandering with backpacks since 2004, and have traveled to more than 20 countries. They have published travel notes such as "America Wait and See" and "West Asia Wait and See". Later, they chose to settle in Dali.

There are people from all over the country in Dali, and it is a community that has established acquaintances and embraces a variety of lifestyles.

And a new kind of community relationship is the antidote to loneliness.

  In 2021, he and his friend Ade launched the DNA Anji "Digital Nomad" Commune in Hengshan Village, Anji, Zhejiang, hoping to "replicate" the Dali model.

This commune was transformed from an abandoned bamboo and wood processing factory. According to the Co-working (shared office) and Co-living (shared living) needs of "digital nomads", a shared office area, dormitory area and various matching.

  There are shared rooms for 2 to 6 people in the dormitory area, and there are also double-bed rooms for 2 people in containers.

There are shared kitchens and canteens in the park, and you can also order takeaways through mobile phones.

In the office area, conference room, and coffee area, "homeless people" can stay, work, chat, entertain, and share at any time.

  Illustrator Ju Feng has been completely freelance since 2019. When he came to Anji, he wanted to meet interesting "homeless" friends, and this place has indeed changed his attitude towards social interaction to a large extent.

  Jun Feng was not very keen on socializing at one time.

After entering the freelance state, he rented a shared office space twice, each time for about two to three months, but he didn't communicate much with people.

In order to avoid being closed and depressed, he often deliberately arranges himself to participate in some knowledge sharing and exchange activities.

  Having lived in the "Digital Nomad" commune for more than a year, Jufeng felt the long-lost "human touch".

"These people who finally get together have many common characteristics, such as the yearning for a free life. And everyone has a common life experience here, and it is easier to establish an emotional connection with each other," said Feng Feng.

The new operating model gathers more young people in the countryside

  Since the opening of internal beta invitations at the end of 2021, more than 400 people have entered "DNA".

Two-thirds of young people are engaged in cultural and creative jobs, such as editors, translators, illustrators, designers, etc., and most of the remaining one-third are programmers, and some young people are unemployed and working Find your direction in life.

  At the end of 2022, Ah Lu, who started from Dachang Naked Ci, began to try the "digital nomad" lifestyle, learning literary theory and psychology, trying to write novels, and communicating with different "homeless" friends.

She doesn't want to go back to her original work status, and plans to start a business with her partners to serve as a platform for "digital nomads" and to amplify the value of "digital nomads". She also plans to participate in some cultural tourism or rural revitalization projects.

  For more than a year, Junfeng has received many new work projects: presenting real estate company building brochures in the form of handbooks, drawing portraits of the 100 innovative celebrity walls of Anji Creative Design Center ACDC, and making white tea original tabloids... Among them, some of the work The income is comparable to the charging level of big cities.

At the same time, he also participated in the preliminary research and planning of external projects for rural revitalization.

  In fact, Xu Song and his partner Ade were associated with rural revitalization when they first launched the "Digital Nomads" commune. more and more attention.

  After the operation of the commune was on the right track, Xu Song and his "homeless" partners started a new rural revitalization project in Yu Village, Anji, mainly in planning, space design and other work.

At present, the project has entered the construction stage and is expected to be put into trial operation in March 2023.

At the same time, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Jiangsu, Shandong and other places also have villages who are interested in cooperating with the team...

  "MIT graduates get job offers from Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. Is it logical for him to choose to go to Silicon Valley? If one day, there will be a first-class village in China, and students from famous schools such as Beijing and Qing Dynasty will receive job offers from Anji and Shanghai at the same time. He will also be willing to live in Anji." Xu Song thought, gathering groups of like-minded "homeless" partners, who are divided like "cells" and jointly invested in the promotion of the "digital homeless" lifestyle and rural revitalization.

  "'Nomads' usually live in various places for 6 to 18 months, and will have a deep connection with the local area. When the 'digital nomad ecology' gradually develops, there will be dozens or hundreds of 'digital nomad' strongholds across the country, and there will be more than 100 'digital nomads' bases around the world. Thousands of 'digital homeless' strongholds, is it conceivable that in the future 'homeless' will marry and have children on the road? Will new educational needs and new learning models be formed from this?" Xu Song said.

Text/Reporter Chen Jing Coordinator/Photo courtesy of Lin Yan and Zhang Bin/Respondents

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What are "digital nomads"?

  The concept of "digital nomads" was first proposed by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners in the book "Digital Nomad" (1997), they predicted that the development of mobile and portable technology will promote a new way of life, people can get rid of work The constraints of time and place restructure the relationship between work and leisure.

  Today, "digital nomads" have changed from fantasy to reality.

The definition given by Jarod Zhang, the founder of the "Digital Nomad" tribe in China, is that "Digital Nomad" is a new way of life empowered by digital information technology. This breaks the strong relationship between work and work location, achieves geographical freedom and time freedom, and enjoys the geographical arbitrage bonus, and the people who live globally mobile.

Jarod proposed four quadrants of "digital nomad" cash flow: remote work, freelancing, Internet entrepreneurship, and online investment.

He believes that freelance jobs such as copywriting, design, translation, and programming are one of the entry points for transition from traditional work to the "digital nomad" lifestyle with the lowest threshold.

Remote work is the safest way to realize the "digital nomad" lifestyle. Being able to enjoy a stable income can also avoid uncertainty and risks.

The first two are the easiest to achieve in a short period of time, but from the perspective of pursuing freedom, entrepreneurship and investment are more long-term choices.

  On, the world-renowned information website for "digital nomads", the development of "digital nomads" is divided into four stages.

  The first phase is from 2007 to 2013.

"Working 4 Hours a Week" by Tim Ferriss describes a lifestyle of remote work and geographical arbitrage (roughly referring to earning wages in developed countries/first-tier cities and spending in developing countries/fourth-tier small cities).

The improvement of Internet technology has made remote work possible, and the first batch of early "digital nomads" have appeared in the past few years.

  The second stage is from 2014 to 2020. In Silicon Valley, where technology companies gather, remote work becomes routine, and technology workers lead the second wave of "digital nomads".

During this period, many "digital nomad" centers (that is, places where "digital nomads" gather more) have sprung up around the world, such as Chiang Mai, Bali, Medellin, Budapest, and Lisbon.

Statistics show that from 2013 to 2016, the number of local "digital nomads" in Chiang Mai increased from dozens to thousands.

At this stage, more companies targeting independent remote workers have also emerged. Co-working spaces and co-living spaces have helped "digital nomads" reduce the loneliness in "nomadic" life.

  The third stage is from 2021 to 2028. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are working remotely, which provides an opportunity for "digital nomads" to enter the mainstream.

  The website predicts that 2028 to 2035 will be the fourth stage of the development of "digital nomads". It is estimated that 1 billion people will be away from their homeland for part of the year and "nomadic" around the world.