You’re probably familiar with digital nomads - those people that travel the world constantly, working either freelance, as a blogger, or in a very flexible job that allows them true location freedom. The value proposition behind digital nomadism is pretty simple: see the world. As long as you have an internet connection, you have earning potential. And you can disappear into remote wherevers for some true disconnection.
While the pandemic broke the general concept of digital nomadism (closed borders make for poor travel experiences), it opened up a new opportunity: the Slow Nomad.
The Slow Nomad, like the digital nomad, likes travelling and wants to see the world. But they don’t have to do it all in a year. The Slow Nomad is characterized by:
Having a home base (in some cases).
Spending multiple months or even a year or more in one location before moving.
Can be more connected into the traditional employment world (especially with rising remote work).
Values living like a local over hopping from locale to locale.
Might instead see themselves as someone with a “nomadic home base” instead of someone who travels a lot.
Values having roots and community vibes.
This person is not someone who is always vacationing (that’s a vacationer) or someone who must travel all the time (that’s a digital nomad). Instead, the Slow Nomad might be a person who:
Snow Birds for 6 months a year to different locations.
Spends one year at a time in different countries.
Does home switches and cultural exchanges for months at a time while continuing to work.
But what does the Slow Nomad need for their lifestyle to work?
To answer that, we look at four categories:
Short-term rentals can be expensive and the traditional rental market focuses on very lengthy stays. Slow Nomads need mid-term rental infrastructure that has the flexibility to handle stays of 6 months to 3 years with no issue. Part of this means understanding how to do credit and background checks on a global scale. I know in my native Canada, for instance, it’s nearly impossible to get approved to rent traditional without a Canadian bank account and previous rental history, driving many would-be nomads into expensive short-term rentals.
High speed internet is a given, but Slow Nomadism isn’t just about working from home in different locations for your entire life. Cafes, coworking spaces, and normalizing the idea that work can be done anywhere. I know freelancers who have closed deals in museums, on their phone using wifi (I’m one of them). Not that a museum is a good work spot, per se, but we need to rethink public spaces for this new reality.
The hallmark of any nomad is packing light - and that means no car. Add in the different ways of driving around the world (insert joke about manual transmission versus North American drivers here) and it’s clear that true Slow Nomads need transit options. This doesn’t necessarily need to be the fanciest subway system, but just a system that works.
One of the big reasons behind digital nomads moving around so much is the privilege (or lack thereof) of your passport. Some countries are entitled to 90 day stays on arrival with just a passport stamp, while others may require consular appointments booked months in advance just to go on vacation. For Slow Nomadism to really work, governments need to let people in - something many governments around the world are already doing.