"For eight years I have studied digital nomadism, the millenial trend for
working remotely from anywhere around the world. I am often asked if it is
Before COVID upended the way we work, I would usually tell journalists that the
numbers were too small for a definitive answer. Most digital nomads were
travelling and working illegally on tourist visas. It was a niche phenomenon.
Three years into the pandemic, however, I am no longer sure. The most recent
estimates put the number of digital nomads from the US alone, at 16.9 million,
a staggering increase of 131% from the pre-pandemic year of 2019.
The same survey also suggests that up to 72 million “armchair nomads”, again,
only in the US, are considering becoming nomadic. This COVID-induced rise in
remote working is a global phenomenon, which means figures for digital nomads
beyond the US may be similarly high.
My research confirms that the cheaper living costs this trend has brought to
those able to capitalise on it can come with a downside for others. Through
interviews and ethnographic fieldwork, I have found that the rise of
professional short-term-let landlords, in particular, is helping to price local
people out of their homes.
Before the pandemic, digital nomads were mostly freelancers. My research has
identified four further categories: digital nomad business owners; experimental
digital nomads; armchair digital nomads; and, the fastest emerging category,
salaried digital nomads."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics