I’ve been living nomadically for three years, and I’m often asked what my advice is for people trying it. Here’s the 80/20 of all my advice:

  • Work out of restaurants and 5-star resorts. They’re gorgeous and if you pay for a meal, ~99.9% of restaurants and resorts are fine with you working there.
  • Ask ~20 different AirBnBs for a 40% discount if you stay for a month. ~5-10% will say yes, then you’ll get to stay in way nicer places for cheaper. 
  • Travel with a folding bike. It will help you get around and really see the cities. 
  • Use NomadList.com to find the best places to stay. It allows you to search cities by cheapness, safety for women, weather, number of nomads, etc. Nomad List is the best and I wish everything were Nomad List.
  • Social contact is the main reason people stop nomading. To fix that a) travel with at least one friend/partner and b) become excellent at location-independent friendships. The main way to do this is to set up recurring calls. Make it the default to talk to people. If you have to choose to hangout with people each time, you will just forget to. You should probably already be doing this. Full short article on how to do this well
  • Some of the best places to nomad, according to Nomad List / me
    • Bali (particularly Canggu and Ubud). Tropical paradise, tons of nomads, insanely cheap and beautiful living arrangements. 
  • Thailand (particularly Chiang Mai). Same as Bali. 
  • Istanbul. The Mediterranean with mosques and cats. (So many cats!) Very safe for women, filled with history. First world infrastructure and third world prices. Better time zone for working remotely in Europe. 
  • Buenos Aires. European style city, very cheap and safe. Better time zone for working remotely from North America
  • Medellín. Jungle in a city. Cheap and gorgeous. Better time zone for working remotely from North America


Other articles you might like:

Cross-posted from my personal blog

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18 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 5:02 PM

Work out of restaurants and 5-star resorts. They’re gorgeous and if you pay for a meal, ~99.9% of restaurants and resorts are fine with you working there.

Hm, for lower-cost counter-service places maybe but it sounds like you are talking more about higher-end places. Those types of places I would feel awkward sitting and doing my work the whole day. Thoughts on that? Can you point to any examples, say on Google Maps?

Travel with a folding bike. It will help you get around and really see the cities.

Have you run into concerns about it getting stolen? Or do you bring it into places with you? What do you think about a scooter instead? How do the logistics of this work if you are not living there permanently? Bring it on the airplane?

Chiang Mai

I visited Chiang Mai about two months ago and seriously fell in love. I hope to spend 2-3 months per year there moving forward. My biggest hangup though is the heat. Do you have any thoughts on that?

I also heard that for ~6 months of the year the farmers do some sort of burning-of-crops-thing which produces really bad smoke. Have you found that? That combined with the heat seems like it'd make long term living there difficult. Maybe you could focus on staying indoors and take Grabs places.

Is this a problem in other (southeast Asian) countries?

it sounds like you are talking more about higher-end places. Those types of places I would feel awkward sitting and doing my work the whole day.

 

I've been doing it for years and it's fine. Not for the whole day, but if you come for lunch, you can usually stay until a bit before dinner and they're fine.

Think of it from their perspective. They just don't want you to be taking up valuable real estate that could be filled with paying customers. Between lunch and dinner most restaurants are pretty empty, so you don't have any counterfactual costs for the retaurant. 

Before lunch you can either get breakfast and do the same thing, or come between breakfast and lunch and order a coffee or two, and the same logic applies. 

If you want to stay all day, you'd definitely want to order three meals, which could be a lot, depending on your budget and the country. 

For the bike, since it's folding, I just take it into whichever place I'm working from. ~99% of the time, it's fine. ~1% of the time they ask you to keep it near the front desk, where somebody's watching over it. 

And since they're so small, you can put them in your luggage, so you can travel with them just fine! 

I've been doing it for years and it's fine. Not for the whole day, but if you come for lunch, you can usually stay until a bit before dinner and they're fine.

Gotcha, that makes sense. I think you're right about the socially acceptable period being something like the timespan of a breakfast/lunch/dinner service rather than the whole day.

For the bike, since it's folding, I just take it into whichever place I'm working from. ~99% of the time, it's fine. ~1% of the time they ask you to keep it near the front desk, where somebody's watching over it.

Makes sense.

And since they're so small, you can put them in your luggage, so you can travel with them just fine!

Oh wow that's really cool! Thanks for pointing this out, I'm considering a folding bike now. Something about traveling with a bike, even a folding one, just didn't click in my head before, sorta like a round peg in a square hole. It makes sense now though.

Two things for heat:

  1. Have a small portable fan that you carry around with you. I love this one because its legs allow you to attach it to practically anything.
  2. You might adjust after you're there for awhile. I grew up in Canada and used to go around in shorts and t-shirt in10C/50F weather. Now, after being in >26C/80F for the last 3 years, I get cold if it goes below 26C/80F. (Not sure if I'm allowed to call myself Canadian anymore) The key is to avoid A/C. If you're in air conditioned places too much, your body will never adapt. (Of note, this is just me and I don't know what percentage of people this happens for)

You'll adjust after you're there for awhile.

How confident are you about this in general? And how much do you think there are individual differences? Personally I grew up in NY and later on lived in Vegas for about six years and never really adjusted to the heat at all.

I did notice that certain people are much more tolerant of it than others. My girlfriend's family would always have barbecues in the summer in 100 degree weather and say it's not that bad because we're in the shade or because the sun is down. I'm not sure how much of that is selection effects vs adjusting vs whatever else though.

Good question! Not at all confident. I'll adjust the claim there to make it more clear this is just an anecdote. 

I see. Thanks for clarifying.

I'm not sure myself but it feels like the sort of thing where maybe what happens to the average person doesn't matter. People interested in living nomadically should probably try it out for N months first and see how they personally adjust.

Idk though, maybe months is too short a timeframe, maybe it takes years. But if it takes years that feels like too big of an investment to be worthwhile for most people, especially if there's also a risk that you never actually adjust.

Just based off of my experience, I adjusted to living in southern India (high humidity, >30c/86f most days) in about a month. The first month I was dying and having to drink water constantly, and then about a month in I'd adjusted almost completely. 

I've been RVing full time within the US for a little over a year, so not quite as nomadic as this :-). But for internet I've been relying on Starlink (too big for what you are doing, and only usable under open sky), and a Solis hot spot for cellular data (https://soliswifi.co/pages/solis-lite) (switches among all the major wireless carriers based on strength of signal, unlimited plans are available in the US but global plans seem to have more stringent throttling rules). Do you use any kind of hot spot, or rely only on finding wifi places?