The rise of the Digital Nomad – and the difference in being an Expat

Nov 30, 2022 | Relocation, Removals Services

What is behind the rise of the Digital Nomad lifestyle? And what is the difference between being a digital nomad vs. an expat?

Today’s world of influencers who travel the world; remote working that has sped up through the era of covid and lockdown; and general lifestyle trends led by technology advancements have brought a whole new way of working.

Back in 2007, Tim Ferris wrote his book “The 4-Hour Workweek”. Many people dreamed about being able to work while travelling to exotic locations at the same time. And with the rise of remote work in a post-Covid world, that dream is now more possible than ever.

It has encouraged a ‘work from anywhere’ mindset. And it has led to more and more people embracing the digital nomad lifestyle.


What is a digital nomad? 

A digital nomad is a worker who leverages technology to travel and work at the same time. For example, a digital nomad might work remotely for a company as a full-time employee, or alternatively, they might manage their own location-independent business.


BBC started reporting on this a while ago too: “The words “digital nomad” generally conjure the image of a millennial expat in Costa Rica, peppering Instagram with selfies in a hammock, a computer in one hand and piña colada in the other. The caption: office for the day.

Now, however, with workers beginning to make decisions in a post-pandemic reality, an increasing number of people may be embracing the digital-nomad lifestyle – and not just young workers posing under palm trees. Globally, the rise of a large, new group of travelling, remote workers is one of the prevailing narratives about a Covid-19-reformed work world.”


Everyone is talking about digital nomadism


A recent linkedin article talks about much the same traits:

“Companies establish work-from-anywhere policies

According to a recent Qualtrics survey, 80% of employees searching for a new job stated it was critical that their future employment allows them to reside wherever.

Employers are paying attention. Many organizations are converting to permanent flexible work arrangements now that workers want to continue working remotely. Spotify, for example, promotes the concept that “work isn’t something you go, it’s something you do.”

Their work-from-anywhere strategy allows individuals to work from anywhere within specific geographic boundaries. For example, if a position is located in Sweden, the individual may be able to work remotely throughout Europe.

Foreign countries lure digital nomads

The interest in this new location’s independent lifestyle has sparked an interest in digital nomad visas. According to trend tracking site Exploding Topics, searches for the term “nomad visa” are up an incredible 2,400% over the past five years. As a result, countries are introducing visa options to lure foreigners for extended stays.

For example, Brazil regulated the granting of both temporary visas and residence permits for immigrants who work for foreign employers. As a result, they may stay for one year and renew the visa for a second year. Most recently, Indonesia announced that the country is developing a new visa that would be effective for five years—longer than any other digital nomad visa currently available.

To date, a total of 49 countries have jumped on the digital nomad visa bandwagon.

Families embrace the digital nomad lifestyle

Digital nomads used to be thought of as twenty-somethings backpacking from hostel to hostel, looking for anywhere they could plug in their laptop. But flexible work and homeschooling have helped usher in a new type of digital nomad that wants to see the world and create lasting memories with their families. It’s called the “anywhere worker,” according to a recent Lonely Planet survey.

Most anywhere workers can be found in high-tech jobs, with 61% working full-time. About 70% of people in this category are between 24 and 44 years old, while 35% are between 45 and 54. Almost half are married, and, unlike the typical digital nomad, 70% are parents who take their families with them.

More products and services exist to support digital nomads

A growing number of products and services have emerged to help digital nomads navigate their lifestyle challenges.”


Which European countries welcome Digital Nomads?

Many European countries offer Digital Nomad Visas to qualifying foreign remote workers who plan to set up their remote work in Europe. These include Portugal, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Malta, Romania, Spain, and Norway.

For example, in the last two months, Portugal launched its digital nomad visa, officially called the ‘residence visa for the exercise of professional activity provided remotely outside the national territory’. It is open to non-EU citizens who are employed or self-employed by a company outside of Portugal.

To note: each person and company would need to investigate their options per country and individual circumstance.


What is the difference between a Digital Nomad and an expat?

Described by blogger, Saga Killa, “The work culture of expats is very different from that of digital nomads. Expats, like their digital nomad counterparts, like to travel but they also value having roots.

Expats have a strong desire to combine work and travel but their move to a new place or country is not always temporary, and because they like to stay put for a while, they take steps accordingly.

Unlike digital nomads, expats like to work at places they have settled or something they can call home.

Well, in a nutshell, if you want stability in your life and a long-term career, friends, community and a place you can call home, then moving away as an expat is the best choice you have. Often driven by a random social or economic event, expats usually go abroad with the best intentions of returning to their homeland.

Digital nomads are the complete opposite of expats; they are constantly on the move and they do not stay in a place for very long time. So, if you love to travel and if you seek some adventure in your life and want to live life on your own terms, then you’re already on the path to become a digital nomad.”


Are you a digital nomad in the making?

What started as a privilege for a select few individuals in the workforce has become accessible to many others over the past few years. The digital nomad movement accelerated with the pandemic, and many people quickly realized that they don’t need to be in an office all day to be productive.

“Prior to the pandemic, digital nomads were often seen as a fringe way of working and limited mostly to freelance jobs, but as companies adopt more flexible arrangements, including location independence and remote work options, we anticipate people will have more opportunities than ever before to work remotely — and from anywhere in the world.”


Moving around the world as a digital nomad and an expat

Moving abroad can be overwhelming.

Sorting out logistics and documents while you’re deciding what your new life will look like and saying goodbye to everyone is a lot.

But thankfully, it doesn’t have to be overly nerve-wracking and demanding – especially if you have a dependable removals company to rely on, with Shires Removals Europe.

With nearly fifty years’ experience moving customers around the corner, and around the world, at Shires Removals Europe we completely understand that international relocation can be doubly stressful and hectic for people undertaking a big move.

So we aim to make things as easy and stress-free as possible for our customers.

We help you with your move from A-Z. From packing and loading, to transportation logistics and paperwork, to offloading on the other side. It’s a full door-to-door removals service.



International Moves. Home Moves. Office Moves. Business Moves.

Whether you are moving house or office, nationally or internationally, our friendly and helpful staff aim to make the move as easy and stress free as possible.


We provide Local, National and International Removals, Packing, and Storage services to Domestic and Commercial customers.

You find a place, and we’ll take you there!


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