Interested in our Partner Program for businesses or our Local Guide Program for experienced expats and digital nomads? Click here to learn more.
Expat Exchange - Living Abroad As A Global Nomad
Expat Exchange
Free MembershipSign In

Living Abroad As A Global Nomad

By Joshua Wood, LPC

AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers

Summary: Here's an introduction to the world of Global Nomads. While they're certainly not a new phenomenon, they are getting a bit more notice lately. This intro includes some sober insights into what it means to embark upon such a lifestyle, the benefits, and the risks.

Living Abroad - As A Global Nomad

An ever increasing part of the expatriate population is a group known as global nomads.

Global nomads call no place home, at least permanently, and are typically freelance workers, whether in the tech sector, teaching, a temporary placement, or some other means of making ends meet as they travel around the globe.

Breaking this group down a bit further, Digital Nomads are people who utilize technology to make their lives as "Global Nomads" a functional reality.

Over the course of the last few decades, the ability for people to utilize technology to telecommute has obviously grown exponentially.

The benefits for employers and employees are real. Employers enjoy lower overhead costs for their employees, while the Global Nomads get to live their dream of shunning the cubicle and traveling the world.

However, there are also real risks involved in being a Global Nomad, and once anyone contemplates the notion of crossing borders, a significant number of complications enter into the equation.

Here is a breakdown of both the upside and the downside to help discover whether or not the global nomad and/or digital nomad experience is for you.


You get to see the world. The lifestyle envisioned by someone setting out to be a Global Nomad is a romantic one, and it's a truly exhilarating experience when it's working.

You'll be exposed to different cultures and peoples, and you'll see the world from a vantage point that few get to know.

Many of these expats also get to earn a living that is commensurate with the pay scale in the United States, the U.K., Australia, or any other developed nation. When this level of income is spread out in a country, or countries, with a far lower cost of living, it's easy to imagine that the benefits are great indeed - again, when it's working.

Pitfalls & Challenges

There are challenges to being a Global Nomad, and they are many. People who explore the notion of moving abroad to assume the Global Nomad lifestyle might envision themselves of working on their laptop for a few hours each day at a poolside bar. Aside from those that are already financially secure, it can be a real battle.

Whether or not you're allowed to live as digital or global nomad in a particular country must be carefully researched. The legality of being in a country and working as a global nomad has to be answered on a country-by-country basis. In many ways, it is relatively easy for global nomads to fly under the radar. That doesn't mean it's legal! Every expat should remember that a law that is rarely enforced can still be enforced, and with prejudice.

There are countries that embrace it more than others, and some countries are beginning to formerly recognize this population with specific visas for this group of expats.

Some people feel that Global Nomads are nothing more than tax cheats, and that they game the system by living a "first-world life in third-world countries." Global Nomads will say that they should foot the bill for services back home that they will never use. It's an ongoing debate.

Don't confuse a freelance lifestyle with absolute freedom. If you've moved abroad to sit on your butt all day, you're in for a big surprise that could very well include begging for money to purchase a one-way ticket home.

Being a global nomad truly requires a lot of work and discipline. Not only do you have to get your work done, you have to balance finding jobs and/or projects and completing them. No easy task.

Exploring the Global Nomad Lifestyle Further

From USAToday.com, explore how Global Nomads Make the World Their Home.

In 6 Ways for Digital Nomads to Save Big on Taxes on Entrepreneur.com, those that pay U.S. taxes will get insights on how structure their business, avoid penalties and more.

This article about the challenges to being a global nomad on theStreet.com offers some insight into the potential stumbling blocks.

Do Digital Nomads Cheat the System? Many Global Nomads believe they are living a more meaningful existence than others, so this offers a bit of contrast.

Once you decide you are going to take the plunge into the Global Nomad lifestyle, here are some Planning Tips For Digital Nomads from Huffington Post.

Expat Exchange is going to introduce more content related to Global Nomads. Stay tuned!

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

First Published: Jun 06, 2018

How do I use Expat Exchange?
You'll gain access to the best information and features when you join our site (it's free). Then, choose your destination and you'll find many of these features for your country:

  • Country Forums
  • Country Guides
  • City Guides
  • Best Places to Live
  • Healthcare Guides
  • Real Estate
  • Cost of Living
  • Pros & Cons

Copyright 1997-2024 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal Partners & Local Guides