It’s often assumed that when the topic of digital nomads comes up, almost immediately they think about young people in their late teens or their 20s. Type the keyword ‘digital nomad’ into Google images, and you are likely going to see one recurring picture. Young digital nomads are, in most cases, portrayed having a good time on the beach with a high-end laptop on the laps and a cocktail by their side. I’m well aware, based on all my travels, that digital nomads are of all ages. My experience as a digital nomad came when I was in my 40s. It got me thinking… what are some of the different perspectives of being an older digital nomad?
So first, is it possible to be a digital nomad when you are older? The answer is a resounding, “Yes.” Some compelling reasons why older digital nomads may enjoy and be more suitable for this life are:
• Experienced in life situations and business life
• Desire to travel and experience foreign countries before they are too old
• More financially stable
• Have already experienced marriage and have children
Let’s take a closer look.
Experienced in Life Situations and Business Life
The more years you live, the more experienced you become with life situations and even foreign cultures. Although a young person can experience much in their teenage years, say, for instance, their family lives abroad, a person who has lived 20 more years could experience similar or more life happenings. A lot of life situations come from meeting their partner, getting married, having children, and taking care of their parents. Likewise, a lot of events can happen with jobs and careers in a person’s 20s and 30s.
A recent study revealed that successful nomads always adopt the lifestyle with a reliable income and marketable skills already in place. It is important to always have some form of stability and blueprint before jumping into the lifestyle. It is where older nomads excel as compared to younger nomads. Often, older nomads have more experience in their professional field and a massive arsenal of skills given that they have been working for an extended period.
Digital nomads leverage technology to generate income without being necessarily tied to one particular location. Given that working means getting online, nomads can work from anywhere for as long as they can connect to the internet. This lifestyle has its benefits, and here are a few that stand out for the older generations.
Desire to Travel and Experience Foreign Countries Before They Are Too Old
When you reach your 40s or 50s, the aging process starts to kick in, and you may find you don’t have as much energy and strength as you did in your 30s. Although some of the aging effects can be overcome with active exercise and diet, still there is a decrease in energy and strength that comes with aging.
Travel can be tough on the body. Even athletes can be worn down by the timezone changes, rigors of waiting, and then needing to move fast and changing hot and cold climates. If it is adventure travel, for instance traveling to the mountains to do some hiking or rock climbing, it adds to the level of strain.
An older person can certainly take these rigors, especially if in good condition, but many middle-aged people know the tough conditions that can happen during travel and aim to take their travels in younger years.
More Financially Stable
There is an illusion that a nomadic lifestyle holds more riches than being a corporate worker. In a majority of cases, however, more people stand a better chance of doing financially better if they stayed in one place. Having a freelance business can be profitable and allow you to maintain your lifestyle. However, to grow it into a business takes specialization.
Generally, expenses and revenue are the pillars on which finances lie. For expenses, you can save a lot of money by visiting in low-cost cities, although you will spend more than a native given the prevailing information gap. The bigger problem comes to making money while always changing locations.
Even in today’s internet-connected world, it is not easy to form a lasting relationship with clients if you cannot attend physical rendezvous. Additionally, it is hard to be focused and committed with a reliable revenue stream if you always change locations.
However, the problems associated with limiting finances are the older nomad’s strong points. In most cases, older digital nomads are financially stronger as compared to younger nomads. An older digital nomad will often have more monetary savings than the fresh out of college nomad. For this reason, older digital nomads will always enjoy the pleasures associated with money consistently streaming in as they look for other sources of income.
Already Experienced Marriage and Children
If you read some of the stories or watch some of the Youtube videos of digital nomads in the world, you find that some have left this lifestyle because life moved forward into another phase and a lot of the reasons include finding a partner and having children. Of course, it is not the only reason, but frequently there is a calling to have a more stable life.
An older digital nomad might already be married, and the kids all grown up. They don’t have the longing for a family or more stable life; perhaps they have already had enough of that and are looking for adventures that the digital nomad lifestyle gives.
Drawbacks of Being an Older Digital Nomad
The nomadic lifestyle, as seen on social media, can be very captivating, especially for those stuck in a job they do not like. After all, we all want to work from sunny, exotic locations, or make new friends from all over the earth. However, life always puts a cost on every choice we make. If the nomadic life were purely beneficial, every single one of us would be trying it out. Below is a list of drawbacks that can explain why being an older digital nomad is disadvantageous.
In most cases, a nomadic way of life will ask you to make numerous leaps all by yourself, since it is not easy to find a companion that will always follow you as you travel. For older people, being alone will quickly bring a deep feeling of loneliness: a feeling nobody enjoys. Avoiding this feeling is easier for people who have settled down and entered a stable relationship, developing a circle of close friends, or meeting family members. For nomads, being alone is unavoidable, even if you have excellent social skills.
Fear of Missing Out
As your family continues growing older and your friends start getting grandchildren, you will not be around to accompany them during these intimate moments. Older digital nomads often regret missing such moments in the future, for life will always change. It is important, especially for older nomads, to spend time with their loved ones.
There will be many occasions where your close family members may want to spend some time with you. Even though this will cripple your preferred style of living, you should still consider how important it is to have close family relations.
May Start to Have Health Issues
Some nomads reach a point where workstations do not offer enough human interaction for them or continuously being on the move is a significant obstacle to their business ambitions. What happens in such situations? Well, the most suitable solution to such problems is usually the same: travel slowly and stay longer.
Older digital nomads face different problems and difficulties vis-a-vis young nomads. Always being on the move is a big issue for older people given that their bodies are not as strong and energetic as before. For them, the only solution to such concerns is usually the same: travel slowly and stay longer. For this reason, more cities have established digital nomad hubs. The hubs have quickly changed cities such as Lisbon, Berlin, Medellin, and Chiang Mai into nomad hotspots.
Tips for Older Nomads
Being an elderly nomad is not enough; all digital nomads, both young and old, must always strive to be successful. An older digital nomad might have an established career, accumulated a few assets, have a family, and a few other things that will set them apart from the younger nomads. Below are a few points you should realize if you hope to start as an older nomad.
Insurance is Important
Even though younger nomads might not take insurance seriously, an older digital nomad must get full insurance coverage. Essential insurance policies to purchase include: life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, personal articles floater, renters insurance, an umbrella liability policy, medical evacuation policy, and automobile insurance.
Plan your Retirement Accordingly
As an older nomad, you should understand that you do not have very many active years left. You should, therefore, plan your future after retirement accordingly. You will have to check your insurance covers and investments.
Consider your Health Status
Age will come with numerous health concerns; therefore, older digital nomads must consider preparing for a few health challenges. You should also have in mind the fact that the level of medical expertise differs from one country to another. Even though younger nomads might find medical abilities to be okay in most states, most of them do not suffer from severe medical conditions like older nomads might.
Most people attribute a digital nomad’s lifestyle to youth. It brings up a question touching on older members of the society: how can one, in his or her advanced years, be a digital nomad? Common misconceptions do not help in answering this concern. Most people believe that digital nomads are younger and that older people are scatter-brained, boring, conservative, and risk-averse.
However, the reality of the matter is more people are seeking to embrace technology and rethink life after retirement. Older people are no longer happy with a boring and uneventful life after retirement. Most of them want to see and witness new experiences before their bodies call it a day. As digital nomadism becomes even more popular, the diversity within this group of professionals is increasing by the day.
Is this lifestyle suitable for all age groups? Of course, yes. The desire to travel, have adventures and experience new cultures happen at all ages, and with today’s technology, any age group can live the digital nomad lifestyle. It is all a matter of determination and making it work for you.
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.