Digital nomads have many freedoms and are the decision maker for many aspects of their lives. One of the most significant freedoms is the decision of how long to stay in a country and decide when to move to the next one.
So how often does a digital nomad change locations? It varies from person to person: it can be short as a one month stay, or it can be as long as three years or longer.
Some of the key deciding factors are:
*Do you like to travel fast or slow?
*The Cost of living
*The number of attractions in the city or village
*Whether you want to socialize or make friendships/relationships
*The magnet of other places where you want to live, that pulls at you
How long should digital nomads stay in one location? It is important to note that digital nomads – people who make a living while also traveling around the world are varied; some prefer to go fast while others do it slowly. Some of the nomads are wealthy, others scrape by, and some fall in the middle of both extremes.
Timeline Options – Traveling Fast or Slow
Depending on your interests and character, you have the decision power to travel fast or slow. There are benefits and disadvantages to both; however, it will likely come down to your interests. Things such as do you like to explore a new city and its culture fully, and spend time knowing about the place. Or the opposite, if you see the main parts of the city over two weeks, it provides you with sufficient knowledge, and that is enough. For some, they won’t know whether to go fast or slow until they get there and “feel” the city and its environment. Still, others will base the decision on the people they have met (or haven’t met) and decide to stay or move on.
Long Term Stay in a Place
We shall define the long-term stay perspective as living in one city for more than six months. The reasoning behind this timing is that, by the end of the six months, you will have developed a routine, experienced the culture, and gotten to make new friends. This option is perfect if you hope to get into your work zone, learn the local language, and build close relationships.
Short-Term Stay in a Place
Some people enjoy moving from one place to another every week or two, even though that might hurt productivity for others. Some digital nomads prefer developing a routine, a morning exercise schedule, and make friends before moving on and is a perfect option if you are doing some freelance projects from one time to the other or you prefer traveling instead of working.
It makes the perfect time length for most digital nomads: medium length stay encompasses living in one place for about eight weeks. This time frame allows the travelers enough time to develop a good routine, meet some local people more often, get to understand the city better, try out some less known cuisines and restaurants, and do some less known tourist activities. By the time eight weeks are up, most digital nomads leave the place feeling satisfied with their tourist experience.
This time frame has one big caveat – the time is not quite enough to form solid relationships if that is something you hope to do. Moreover, you will also not learn much of the local dialects in two months if that is one thing you always hope to achieve.
Consider Trying Out Different Lengths
How much time a digital nomad should spend in one city comes down to personal preference. It encompasses spending an amount of time that will allow you to get the best out of your experience. In this regard, digital nomads should consider trying out different types of lengths to find out which one works best for their desires.
While it might seem enjoyable to wake up every morning in a charming hotel room with the Eiffel tower just a short distance away, the sad reality is that some of the world’s top cities like London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Shanghai are quite expensive. You might have enough money to land in one of these cities, but it is always best to start with a realistic destination. Locations in Southeast Asia and South America are well known for their low cost of living; locations in Eastern and Central Europe also offer similar comparable prices in some instances. Digital nomads should always try to find a delicate balance between a city they can afford and one they love.
If you are a person who has a long bucket list of places to go, there are many digital nomad locations in the world to choose. Places like Medellin, Lisbon, Tallinn, and Chiang Mai are beautiful hotspots with a developed startup community. The chances are that, if you are a digital nomad, you have already done your fair share of research on what are the best cities to work and live as a nomad, and you have probably come up with a list of the places you will consider visiting. The attractiveness of some of these places combined with your bucket list will be a strong magnet, and subsequently, the urge to move to another city frequently will pull at you.
While cities such as Bali in Thailand seem to be great for some people, Bali might not be the right digital nomad city for you because choosing a place to work and live is not necessarily about what sounds fun for a tourist. There is a lot more consideration that goes into it.
When Deciding to Move – Some Considerations
You will have to consider other issues such as time zones, visas, internet, cost of living, residential apartments, and so much more. All these aspects are always different for every nomad. What makes a perfect destination for one person – based on their internet needs and visa requirements – might be wrong in your case.
The first thing that you will have to think about is whether or not you will face time zone restrictions. If you are a freelancer, there is an excellent chance that you do. For instance, if you are freelancing for clients located in the US, you cannot hop over Europe or Asia without significantly disrupting your work schedule. You might decide to stay in a place no more or less than three hours’ time difference from the area where your clients are.
Even if you do not do live calls or teleconference meetings, consider how significantly altering your time zone will affect your work in numerous other ways. What if a client requires an urgent revision and emails you first thing in the morning of their time? Do you think they are okay waiting for over eight hours before hearing back from you?
Use this consideration as your first criteria when choosing a nomad spot for you. Fortunately, the globe is quite expansive, so limiting your locations to those that match your time zone will not leave you without enough choices.
Cost of Living
This one is pretty straightforward – a city’s average cost of living is probably the first thing you will consider when looking for places to reside. What is not straightforward, though, are the things that constitute a city’s cost of living:
Groceries: A city you hope to visit might have affordable housing costs, but once you arrive there, you might find the grocery costs are sky high. It might happen in places like Ecuador.
Utilities: Some digital nomad locations have high utility costs. When power is expensive in particular countries, Airbnb hosts and landlords will tack that cost onto your total rent. It makes the housing cost to climb up considerably – especially if you have to use the air conditioning often.
Flights: While at home, transport costs make up a part of your cost of living, but this will not include flight costs. For a digital nomad, however, this is a cost you must consider. Do not just look into the total cost of the first flight; how many more flights will you take while in that country? How much money will you spend every time to move?
When choosing a place to live and work, one of the most important aspects to consider should be the internet connection. In most developed cities around the world, there are not many issues to worry about in as far as the internet connection is concerned. It might, however, be a problem because, in such big cities, the cost of living is quite high and most digital nomads prefer moving into remote areas. So how can you find a place where the internet connection is good without limiting yourself on where you will live? First, consider messaging Airbnb hosts in the cities in which you hope to move. Ask them to run several speed tests from the house.
Moreover, ensure that you only travel with an unlocked phone so that you can purchase a SIM card in each different country. In most countries, you can get a prepaid SIM card with a data plan. All you will have to do is to put that card into your unlocked phone, and you will enjoy your mobile hotspot everywhere you go.
Digital nomads are as varied as the day is long. Some prefer to move fast while others like to stay in a place a little bit longer before moving away. How much time a nomad spends in one location boils down to personal preference. You will have to come up with the perfect length of time that will enable you to get the best experience out of your nomadic visit. To come up with the ideal time frame, you should consider trying different time lengths to realize which one will work best to your desires and be open to new opportunities.
I’m the owner of Digital Nomad Explorer. I’ve traveled to over 50 countries and been an expat in Scotland, Finland, and China. I was a digital nomad while having my own robotics company and traveled throughout Europe and China working remotely. Currently, I’m location independent with a home base in Kirkkonummi, Finland.